German producer-distributor Senator Entertainment is launching a Cologne-based production arm to be called Senator Film Koln Produktion to take advantage of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) as an international production hub.

In addition to developing and producing German- language features, the new company will produce international and English-language in-house projects and co-productions to be shot in NRW region.

The new company will be managed by Senator Entertainment’s board member Helge Sasse (pictured) with producer Ulf Israel.

Israel, who had been running 3L Filmproduktion for the past five years and handled such international projects as Paul Schrader’s Adam Resurrected, Julie Delpy’s 2 Days In Paris and Ben Verbong’s Whether You Want It Not (Ob Ihr Wollt Oder Nicht), will join Senator Film Köln from January 1, 2010.

Senator Film Köln is also in talks with Cologne’s MMC Studios for a long-term partnership on the production of international features at the facility. 

Additionally, Berlin-based Senantor Film Produktion has boarded Oliver Schmitz’s Chanda’s Secrets as German partner, with Senator Film Verlieh taking German rights. The project is a co-production between South Africa’s Enigma Pictures and Germany’s Niama-Film and is a coming of age story about a young South African girl based on the novel by Allan Stratton. 

Principal photography began last week at locations in the township of Elandsdoorn near Johannesburg with a local South African cast. Bavaria Film International is handling international sales.