EXCLUSIVE: The Wave writer-director Dennis Gansel has been working on the feature adaptation of Robert Harris’ controversial best-seller Fatherland; Gansel among candidates to direct.

Dennis Gansel has been working with Matthias Pachte on the script of German outfit UFA Cinema’s feature update of Robert Harris’ best-selling novel Fatherland, which UFA expects a first draft of within three months.

For now, Pachte (My Brother the Vampire, 12 Paces Without a Head) is taking a lead on the script with Gansel among the candidates to direct the thriller. UFA optioned the rights to the film in 2009.

Gansel is no stranger to high-concept political thrillers with a touch of controversy after writing and directing acclaimed 2008 thriller The Wave about a high school experiment with Nazism and his most recent title The Fourth State starring Moritz Bleibtrau, Kasia Smutniak and Max Riemelt, about a journalist caught up in a terrorist plot in Moscow. The latter is produced by UFA and released by UPI on Thursday in Germany.

Novelist and screenwriter Harris (The Ghost Writer) is believed to have been contacted about the adaptation but as yet is not on board. Thomas Friedl is currently lead producer on the adaptation.

Harris’ novel imagines a world in which Germany won the Second World War and the Nazis still rule Germany. A few days before Hitler’s 75th birthday, amid a climate of fear, a local detective and an American journalist investigate the murder of a Nazi party big wig and come dangerously close to a hidden secret with momentous implications.

HBO produced a TV film version of Fatherland in 1994 starring Rutger Hauer and Miranda Richardson.

Gansel, nominated at the European Film Awards and Sundance for The Wave, is attached to Give a Boy a Gun, currently in advanced script development, from The Wave novelist Todd Strasser. Another potential hot potato, the thriller is about two troubled and heavily armed high school students who hold their classmates hostage.

Christian Becker of Munich-based Rat Pack is producing with Constantin Film on board for local distribution.