Berlin: Germany's Sommerhaus Boards Biopic of Teen Sailing Heroine Laura Dekker

Laura Dekker

The Dutch girl who, at 16, became the youngest person to circumnavigate the world single-handed, is working with German director Florian Cossen on a movie version of her life.

The story of sailing heroine Laura Dekker is getting the big-screen treatment.

Dekker stunned the sailing world in 2012 when, at age 16, she completed her solo sailing trip around the world —becoming the youngest person ever to accomplish the feat.

German production company Sommerhaus has signed on to produce a feature film based on Dekker's life, which Dekker herself will co-develop. Florian Cossen will direct and co-write the script for the film with his partner Elena von Saucken. The pair co-wrote both of Cossen's previous features: The Day I Was Not Born (2010) which picked up German Film Awards for best film score and supporting actress (for Beatriz Spelzini); and Cossen's 2105 English-language debut Coconut Hero.

Dekker became an international celebrity when she landed on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten on Jan. 22, 2012, having spent just under two years alone at sea, circling the planet. Courts in the Netherlands initially refused to allow the young girl to embark on the voyage and even stripped her parents of custody, putting her under the guardianship of the state. But Dekker challenged the ruling and won. On Aug. 21, 2010, she set off alone in a 38-foot two-masted ketch. Five-hundred eighteen days later, she made history.

Dekker was approached by several U.S. producers for the rights to her life story but turned them all down. Her famous voyage was the subject of a 2013 documentary, Maidentrip, from director Jillian Schlesinger, which premiered at SXSW. But Dekker was unhappy with the results and trashed the film online. “I am not going to say much about the film Maidentrip, but I won't be representing it as I am not fully standing behind it,” she posted on her official website.

Dekker, now 22 and living in New Zealand, will be working closely on the feature film, which she is co-developing with Cossen and von Saucken.

Berlin-based Sommerhaus are also in preproduction on the ambitious period drama When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, based on Judith Kerr's autobiographical novel chronicling her and her family's escape from Nazi Germany to the U.K. Caroline Link, the Oscar-winning director of Nowhere in Africa, will helm the adaptation, with shooting set to begin this year. Jochen Laube of Sommerhaus said Pink Rabbit will be “the first film about exodus, expulsion and exile in Nazi Germany that is suitable for children (to watch)."

In another new take on a classic, Sommerhaus is adapting Berlin Alexanderplatz as a feature film. Burhan Qurbani (We Are Young, We Are Strong) will direct. The pic will transport the action of Alfred Doblin's 1929 novel (and the 1980 miniseries adaptation by Rainer Werner Fassbinder) to the present day. Instead of a German ex-con struggling to find his way in a society that rejects him, the main character has been recast as a refugee seeking asylum in Berlin. Production will start later this year.

The latest Sommerhaus production, Thomas Stuber's In the Aisles, starring Franz Rogowski and Sandra Huller (Toni Erdmann), has its world premiere in competition Friday at the Berlin International Film Festival.

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