This year, the New German Television Productions section is being expanded to give more attention to the initial episodes of serial stories made for German television: as world premieres on the big screen, with the filmmakers attending. The Bernd Burgemeister TV Production Award, sponsored by the VFF, will for the first time be presented twofold: 25,000 euros will be awarded to the best TV movie as before, with a further 25,000 euros being awarded to the best series or miniseries in the program.
Most people just want to get ahead in their professional and personal lives, and when it comes down to it, the ends justify the means, right? Felix Armand, at least, shows little mercy. In the bitterly satirical six-part KING OF STONKS (showrunners: Philipp Kässbohrer, Matthias Murmann; lead director and director of episodes 1–3: Jan Bonny; director of episode 4: Facundo Scalerandi; director of episodes 5 and 6: Isabell Šuba), Felix dreams of becoming the CEO of Europe’s biggest financial tech company. In the process, this high achiever, played by Thomas Schubert, is tripped up by various stains on his reputation that were mostly caused by his own actions. He also has to help his power-hungry boss Magnus (Germany’s most likeable actor, Matthias Brandt, in his nastiest role) navigate some turbulent waters — definitely not an easy job. But if you’re aiming high, you have to be able to handle a lot of frustration. Endurance and patience definitely help — as does luck.
king of stonks
house of promises
What does that look like in the case of Jewish merchant Arthur Grünberg? In the series HOUSE OF PROMISES, Grünberg, played by the impressive Alexander Scheer, opens the Jonass department store in downtown Berlin. It’s the 1920s, and Berlin is a magnet that pulls in Vicky Maler (Naemi Feitisch), who is hoping for a job and, yes, a bit of luck. She hits it off with musician Harry (Ludwig Simon), too, but the couple must overcome internal and external obstacles that keep piling up. The history, which is depicted here in fictional form and includes the terror of the Nazi era, as well as the fictional relationship follow a zigzag course in this terrific series, for which Sherry Hormann directed the first six episodes, Umut Dağ the next six.
In a department store, one naturally expects to find goods that are in perfect condition. Not DAMAGED GOODS. That’s the name of a new comedy series (head writer: Jonas Bock, director: Anna-Katherina Maier) that is less about damaged goods than about five millennial friends who were in therapy as teenagers and who get scarred a bit more in the process of finally growing up. One member of the group demolishes the others’ privacy: Nola is her name, and she’s played by Sophie Passmann in her first major TV role. While Passmann in real life creates Instagram posts about herself and the vibrant (fashion) world, the series’ Nola does a podcast in which she talks very candidly not only about herself, but also about her friends. Trouble is brewing: entertaining trouble.
liberame – after the storm
The six-part series LIBERAME – AFTER THE STORM (screenplay by Astrid Ströher, Marco Wiersch; directed by Adolfo J. Kolmerer) is also about five friends (played by Friedrich Mücke, Johanna Wokalek, Natalia Belitski, Ina Weisse, and Marc Benjamin) who have achieved a supposedly secure status in affluent society. On a Mediterranean sailing trip, they encounter a boatload of refugees — the visual contrast between the two groups could hardly be greater — and must decide whether to help the people in need, even if that means breaking laws in the process. They choose compassion, but the next morning the boat has been cut loose. Years later, the case is reopened. Who was to blame for the disaster that ensued?
Revisiting the past and old questions of guilt is something state police investigator Maik Briegand (Mišel Matičević) also has to do in the series LAUCHHAMMER (screenplay by Frauke Hunfeld and Silke Zertz; directed by Till Franzen), in which the bloody thread of a murder case leads him back to the area where he grew up. Lauchhammer is the name of the town in eastern Germany where Briegand was once a policeman and where he is now tasked with an investigation, leading to run-ins with his old colleagues, his ex-wife, and his family.
the net – promised land
The past just isn’t so easy to shake off, as is seen in the no less exciting thriller series MUNICH GAMES (created by Michael Aviram; screenplay by Michal Aviram and Martin Behnke; directed by Philipp Kadelbach). On the 50th anniversary of the terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics, a friendly match is to be held between an Israeli and a German soccer club. When another attack is threatened, the German authorities must cooperate with the Israelis, resulting in a nicely diverse team (played by Seyneb Saleh, Yousef Sweid, Sebastian Rudolph, and others).
People bond out of necessity, as can also be observed in the series THE NET – PROMISED LAND (screenplay by Bernd Lange, Johannes Flachmayer, Thomas Ritter, Anneke Jannsen; directed by Rick Ostermann). Three people brought together by chance, played by Birgit Minichmayr, Max von der Groeben, and Eva Mattes, aim to find out whether there’s a connection between two deaths in the soccer milieu. Their investigation leads them to the very top of FIFA — sorry, the fictitious World Football Association — to a boss who once thought that the ends justify all means. But perhaps the air is very thin up there. And down below, life is perhaps less turbulent, more beautiful?