Cannes: Alison Thompson to Launch Sunray Films with 'Alone in Berlin'

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Alison Thompson

Former Focus Features CEO James Schamus will be among the producers of the project, written by Achim von Borries and to be directed by French actor Vincent Perez.

Former Focus International highflier Alison Thompson will launch her new sales and production banner Sunray Films with a big-screen adaptation of Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin during Cannes.

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The novel, which sold more than 350,000 copies worldwide, has been billed as the greatest book about German resistance to the Nazis ever. Inspired by a true story, it details the story of a working-class husband and wife who, acting alone, became part of the German Resistance movement.

Thompson, a familiar face on the international distribution scene and former co-president of Focus International, will be reunited with former Focus Features CEO James Schamus, who will be one of the producers on the Fallada adaptation.

French actor-turned-filmmaker Vincent Perez will direct the script from Good Bye, Lenin! writer Achim von Borries.

Thompson will sell the movie, which has been developed and will be produced by Stefan Arndt and Uwe Schott of Germany's X-Filme. Along with Schamus, the quartet previously brought Cloud Atlas to the market.

Thompson said she is aiming to bring buyers news of casting during the Cannes market, with British and German actors needed for the script.

Pathe in France is backing the project in exchange for French speaking territory rights with Thompson's Sunray Films handling worldwide sales.

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Thompson said she and Schamus had both nurtured the project from very early on. "I just can't believe it hasn't been made into a film before now," Thompson said. "It's a good project to launch in Cannes because it's a great package."

After Focus International closed, Thompson took three movies from its sales slate which she will continue to sell. They include Mike Leigh’s Cannes Competition title Mr. Turner and Asif Kapadia’s untitled Amy Winehouse documentary.

She has also put the finishing touches on deals for Sunshine on Leith. "It's not a bad way to go to launch Sunray Films in Cannes, with a Mike Leigh film in competition and Alone in Berlin," Thompson said.