EXCLUSIVE: Beta Cinema will handle international sales on German director Isabelle Stevers’ grotesque drama Cooking Cats, which began shooting in Cologne last week.

UK actor Jim Broadbent has been cast as a British ambassador in the drama set in the world of international aid schemes with Maria Furtwängler as an UN aid worker caught between the contradictions of a jetsetting life and tackling Third World poverty.

Other cast members include former European Shooting Star Dorka Gryllus and newcomer Mehmer Sözer.

Stever’s previous films include the feature films Erste Ehe and Gisela and an episode of the omnibus film Deutschland ‘09.

The co-production between Sutor Kolonko Filmproduktion, cine plus Filmproduktion and broadcasters WDR, BR and NDR will be released theatrically in Germany by Movienet.

Shooting will continue at the Hürth-based Medienparks NRW studio, in Düsseldorf and Jordan’s Amman until the beginning of June.

Schipper thriller and love story

Another addition to Beta’s slate is actor-director Sebastian Schipper’s new feature film Eins Zwei Fünf Acht (working title), which wrapped principal photography in Berlin last week.

The first production from the fledgling outfit MonkeyBoy founded by Schipper with Jan Dressler is being co-produced by deutschfilm and Radical Media and will be released theatrically by Edition Senator in 2015.

The thriller about a heist with a difference and love at first sight stars Spanish actress Laia Costa, Frederick Lau (Ummah), Franz Rogowski (Love Steaks) and Bavaria Film Prize-winner Burak Yigit.

Two market premieres

Beta Cinema will have two market premieres at the Marché du Film in Cannes.

The first is Detlev Buck’s teen adventure/romance Bibi & Tina, which has taken more than €5.8m ($8m) at the German box office in the first eight weeks of its theatrical run for distributor DCM. A sequel has already found funding and will begin shooting this summer.

The second is Michael Bully Herbig’s romantic comedy Buddy, with Herbig starring as a guardian angel to Alexander Fehling’s fast-living womaniser Eddie.

The Beta team will also have a screener of Alain Gsponer’s drama, One Step To Freedom (Der Fall Grüninger), which was the opening film at the Solothurn Film Days in January.

Two-track strategy for Fiddlesticks

German film-maker Veit Helmer is employing a two-track strategy for his latest feature, the children’s film Fiddlesticks (Quatsch) by coordinating the theatrical sales himself and handing the responsibility for TV sales to BetaFilm’s VP International Sales & Acquisitions Claudia Schmitt.

Fiddlesticks will have its world premiere as the opening film of this year’s Golden Sparrow Children’s Media Festival in Gera on May 11.

Five days later, Helmer will be in Cannes to present the market premiere of the turbulent children’s comedy as the opening film of German Films’ “New German Films” showcase on May 16.

Speaking exclusively with ScreenDaily, Helmer explained that he was moved to make Fiddlesticks “because there are hardly any live-action films for very young children”.

“All you have nowadays are the animation films,” he added. “I grew up with such lovely films from Czechoslovakia and Pippi Langstrumpf and so that’s the reason why I decided to make this film.

“My four-year-old son gave me lots of ideas for the film with tractors, locomotives, and refuse lorries all having crashes. It’s bit like Police Academy for children - but nobody gets hurt.

“The story is about the children’s battle against the adults But it can be enjoyed at different levels so that it is a family film in the very best sense of the word.”

Helmer says that it was “the greatest adventure to date in my film-making career” to have six four year-olds playing children who escape from their Kindergarten to free their grandparents from the old folks home.

But he was ably supported by a stellar list of German actors, ranging from Benno Fürmann and Fritzi Haberlandt through Samuel Finzi and Margarita Broich to Alexander Scheer and Nadeshda Brennicke.

Fiddlesticks will be released in German cinemas this autumn by Farbfilm.