Hans-Christian Schmid could not have wished for better timing to start shooting his latest feature project, the English-language political thriller Storm, about the aftermath of the Balkan war.
Just a week earlier, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic had been apprehended after 13 years on the run.
Storm (working title), which began shooting on July 29 in Berlin, stars New Zealand-born actress Kerry Fox as a prosecutor at the war-crimes tribunal in The Hague who tries to persuade a witness, a Bosnian woman living in Berlin (Anamaria Marinca), to come to the court to give evidence against a suspected Serbian war criminal. The cast includes the UK's Stephen Dillane, Sweden's Rolf Lassgard and Germany's Alexander Fehling.
The $10m (EUR6.4m) project by Schmid and producer Britta Knoller's Berlin-based company 23/5 Filmproduktion is being co-produced with Zentropa International Cologne, Zentropa Entertainments Berlin, Zentropa Entertainment5 in Denmark, Zentropa International Netherlands and the Dutch production house Idtv Film. Piffl Medien will release Storm in Germany next year, while Trust Nordisk has taken international rights.
The film demanded that Schmid and his co-writer Bernd Lange, who penned his 2006 Berlinale competition entry Requiem, undertake a lot of background research. They travelled to The Hague and did fieldwork in Sarajevo and Banja Luka, speaking with prosecutors and defence counsel as well as people from the Victims and Witnesses Unit and the International Criminal Tribunal for Ex-Yugoslavia (Icty).
'Thematically, it is about law, justice and integrity and the importance that is given this precious entity of international law,' Schmid says, who along with Lange has a passion for 'New Hollywood (films of the 1970s) and political thrillers, and of films which function as dramas alongside the thriller elements'.
Storm marks 23/5's fourth production after religious thriller Requiem, And Along Come Tourists about the legacy of the Holocaust which screened in Cannes' Un Certain Regard in 2007, and Schmid's Polish laundry documentary Die Wundersame Welt Der Waschkraft, which completed shooting earlier this year.
Knoller is now developing the German-French co-production La Lisiere by Geraldine Bajard and also in the pipeline are children's feature Mein Sommer Mit Molomok due for production next year, and projects from writers Markus Busch and Daniel Nocke.
Knoller and Schmid work in complete collaboration, says the director: 'We complement one another. I'm also interested in knowing how the films will be produced, and what the budget and financing plan will look like. And the same goes for Britta's interest in the storylines.'