EXCLUSIVE: Actor-producer-director Matthias Schweighöfer is to be reunited with director Markus Goller for Frau Ella, the first project of Schweighöfer’s four-picture deal with Warner Bros Entertainment.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily, producer Dan Maag, a partner with Schweighöfer and Marco Beckmann in the Frankfurt-based production company Pantaleon Films, said that Frau Ella is set to begin shooting in late summer from a screenplay by Dirk Ahner based on Florian Beckerhoff’s 2009 eponymous novel. Schweighöfer will play one of the leads.

Beckerhoff’s debut centres on the 30-year-old Sascha who is recovering from an eye operation and has to briefly share a room with a snoring granny, Frau Ella. When there are plans to operate on her against her will, Sascha whisks Ella away under cover of darkness to his flat – and the beginnings of an unusual friendship.

Schweighöfer previously worked with Goller on his directorial debut Friendship! which was produced by The Lives of Others producers Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion with Deutsche Columbia Pictures Filmproduktion and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing.

Speaking about the four-picture deal Pantaleon signed with Warner earlier this year, Maag noted: “We have a lot of projects in development, so it’s good to have a long-term partner like Warner in place where one is guaranteed greater reliability in planning for raising finance and so on.”

Meanwhile, Schweighöfer is currently working in Berlin on his second feature film as a director, the romantic comedy Schlussmacher. This is Panteleon Films’ second project with the German office of US major 20th Century Fox after the actor’s highly successful directorial debut What A Man which posted over €12.5m at the German box-office last year.

The new film, penned by What A Man co-screenwriter Doron Wisotzky, is described by Maag as “more high concept and complete fiction”: Schweighöfer also appears in front of the camera, this time as Paul, a professional “separator” [the ‘schlussmacher’ of the film’s title] who works for an agency in Berlin assisting couples to break up. The end of each relationship brings him one step nearer to his long-awaited promotion as a partner in the company. That is, until he encounters the extremely clingy Toto (played by Milan Peschel who made such an impact in Andreas Dresen’s harrowing cancer drama Stopped On Track) who, in one fell swoop, turns Paul’s career plans and life topsy-turvy.

Other members of the cast include Nadja Uhl (Summer in Berlin), Heiner Lauterbach (The Guardian), director-actress Anna Bederke (Soul Kitchen) and French Canadian actress Catherine De Léan who was nominated for a Canadian Genie Award for her performance in Anne Emond’s controversial Nuit #1 this year.

The production between Pantaleon Films, Pantaleon Entertainment, Amalia Film and Fox International Productions received backing from  HessenInvestFilm, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, German Federal Film Board (FFA), and German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) and will wrap on May 17 after moving the shoot from Berlin to Frankfurt and North Hessen at the end of this month.

20th Century Fox of Germany will release Schlussmacher on January 13, 2013.