Berlin: Etienne Comar’s 'Django' to Open 2017 Festival

Courtesy of Berlin Film Festival

The biopic stars Reda Kateb as jazz legend Django Reinhardt.

The Berlin International Film Festival will open next month with the world premiere of Etienne Comar’s directorial debut Django, a biopic of jazz legend Django Reinhardt, starring Reda Kateb (Far From Men).

The film is set during Reinhardt's flight from German-occupied Paris in 1943. As a Sinti, Reinhardt and his family were harassed and hounded by the Nazis. Django will also be in official competition in Berlin.

“Django Reinhardt was one of the most brilliant pioneers of European jazz and the father of Gypsy Swing," said Berlin festival director Dieter Kosslick. "Django grippingly portrays one chapter in the musician’s eventful life and is a poignant tale of survival. Constant danger, flight and the atrocities committed against his family could not make him stop playing."

Reinhardt's music is a staple of movie soundtracks, including The Aviator, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Matrix trilogy. Woody Allen has used Reinhardt's tracks in numerous films, most famously in Sweet and Lowdown, where Sean Penn plays a jazz guitarist obsessed with Reinhardt (played in a cameo in the film by Michael Sprague).

Django marks the directorial debut of Comar, already famed as a screenwriter and producer on such films as the Of Gods and Men, Haute Cuisine and My King. Comar co-wrote the script to Django together with Alexis Salatko. Dutch jazz band Rosenberg Trio re-recorded Reinhardt's music for the film's soundtrack.

Cecile de France (The Kid with a Bike) co-stars alongside Kateb in the film, together with German actors Alex Brendemuhl and Ulrich Brandhoff.

Django is produced by Fidelite, Arches Films and Pathe. Pathe International will be handling international sales.

Django will open the 2017 Berlin festival on Feb. 9. The remaining titles in Berlin competition this year will be announced in the coming weeks.