New feature films by Margarethe von Trotta, Lasse Hallström and Patricia Riggen are among 11 projects awarded around €5.7m production funding by the Düsseldorf-based Filmstiftung NRW at its latest session.

The largest sum — € 1.5m — went to Mexican-born Riggen’s biopic Vivaldi, which is set to star Kevin Zegers, Jessica Biel, Veronica Ferres, Ben Kingsley and German-American violinist David Garrett. The co-production between Michael Souvignier’s Zeitsprung Entertainment and US outfit Raffaella Productions will be theatrically released in Germany by Senator Film and handled internationally by Sierra Pictures.

Director Riggen was one of the contributors of this year’s portmanteau film Revolucion and had previously made Under The Same Moon (La Misma Luna) in 2007.

Distributor Senator Film is also involved in one of Lasse Hallström’s forthcoming projects, The Danish Girl, which received € 1.2m funding. The German-US co-production by its Cologne-based production arm Senator Film Köln with MMC Independent and ELBE LLC will recount the true story of the artists Einar Wegener and Greta Waud in Copenhagen of the 1920s. Nicole Kidman is set to take one of the leads as the first person to undergo a sex-change to become a woman.

Meanwhile, veteran German director Margarethe von Trotta is to continue her gallery of outstanding female figures from history after Rosa Luxemburg and Hildegard von Bingen with a biopic of the philosopher Hannah Arendt. Heimatfilm, the producer of this year’s Golden Bear winner Bal, has recruited France’s MACT Productions, Israel’s Transfax Film and Canada’s Sienna Films as co-producers for the film (Hannah Arendt) which was awarded € 750,000. Films Distribution will handle international sales, with von Trotta’s “regular” theatrical distributor Concorde Film releasing the film in Germany.

This round of funding also saw support going to two projects with involvement from the German outposts of the US majors.

€250,000 went to Gregor Schnitzler’s comedy Resturlaub, the second local production being prepared by Sony Pictures’ Deutsche Columbia Pictures Filmproduktion after its box-office hit Friendship! 

Based on Tommy Jaud’s bestseller of the same name, the story focuses on a young brewery manager from Bavaria, who seeks to escape the narrow confines of life in the sticks by starting anew at the other end of the world in Argentina. Former Shooting Star Maximilian Brückner and Mira Bartushek are attached as leads.

In addition, Munich-based Claussen + Wöbke + Putz attracted over €301,000 for Elmar Fischer’s Offroad about how a young woman’s life changes radically after buying a jeep. Nora Tschirner and Elyas M’Barek are already confirmed for the romantic comedy which is set to be the second local pickup by new distributor Paramount Pictures after Tim Fehlmann’s post-apocalyptic thriller 2016 – Das Ende der Nacht.

Other projects supported at this session included Jeanine Meerapfel’s German-Argentinian co-production Der Deutsche Freund, which will be handled internationally by The Match Factory; Markus Sehr’s feature debut romantic comedy Eine Insel namens Udo, to be produced by Hupe Film with Little Shark Entertainment; and Tradewind Pictures’ planned live-action children’s film based on the Pettson & Findus franchise, Pettersson & Findus – Kleiner Quälgeist, große Freundschaft, with the speaking cat Findus as a computer-animated character.