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photo © Allegro Film

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 03/2013

A meeting during the 2012 Berlinale with Austrian producer Helmut Grasser of Allegro Film led X Filme’s Stefan Arndt to become a production partner in the adaptation of Thomas Willmann’s novel DAS FINSTERE TAL.

“Helmut gave me the novel to read and I couldn’t put it down for three days,” Arndt recalls. “I found it to be an extremely cinematic novel with an authentic setting in an isolated mountain village at the end of the 19th century.”

“I was immediately infected by Helmut’s enthusiasm for this allegory about crime and punishment,” he continues. ”And I could see the director Andreas Prochaska managing to bring elements of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and THE WHITE RIBBON together in this film.”

“DAS FINSTERE TAL isn’t a classic German or a classic Austrian story, it is a story from the Alps which, with many other things, connects our countries with one another,” Arndt explains. The laws holding swing there aren’t ones that would have any legal validity, they are archaic and unyielding.”

“It was my idea to cast someone from the English-speaking world as the stranger Greider, we needed an English actor who can speak a little German,” he says. “We made an incredibly authentic discovery with Sam Riley for the hero: he still has something very young and soft about him, but, at the same time, he has striking features.”

As in Michael Haneke’s Golden Palm winner THE WHITE RIBBON, particular care has been taken in casting all of the characters in this new film very authentically “so that you really think you are back at the end of the 19th century where people were having to fight for their survival on a daily basis.”

“Our goal is also to make the film so good that there will never be an American remake,” adds Arndt, who plans to release the Alpine Western through X Filme’s distribution arm X Verleih in early 2014.

DAS FINSTERE TAL marks Allegro Film’s third collaboration with Prochaska after he directed the two horror thrillers IN DREI TAGEN BIST DU TOT made in 2006 and 2008.

Genre Drama
Category Feature
Director Andreas Prochaska
Screenplay Martin Ambrosch, Andreas Prochaska
Cinematography Thomas Kiennast
Cast Sam Riley, Tobias Moretti, Paula Beer, Johannes Krisch, Martin Leutgeb, Helmuth A. Häusler, Clemens Schick, Florian Brückner, Thomas Schubert, Erwin Steinhauer
Producers Helmut Grasser, Stefan Arndt
Production Companies X Filme Creative Pool, Allegro Film/Vienna, in co-production with SamFilm GmbH, ZDF, ORF/Vienna
Shooting Dates January-May 2013
Festivals Berlinale 2014, Festroia 2014, Shanghai 2014, Karlovy Vary 2014; Puchon Fantastic 2014, Haifa 2014, Sao Paulo 2014, Gijón 2014, Palm Springs 2015, Göteborg 2015
Awards Bavarian Film Awards 2013 (Best Director, Best Leading Actor), German Film Award 2014 (Best Film Silver, Best Supporting Actor: Tobias Moretti, Cinematography, Production Design, Costume, Make-Up, Score & Sound), European Film Awards 2014: Production Design & Costume Design
With backing from FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, German Federal Film Board / FFA Filmförderungsanstalt, German Federal Film Fund / DFFF Deutscher Filmförderfonds, IDM Südtirol – Alto Adige, Austrian Film Institute (ÖFI), Filmfond Wien
German Distributor X Verleih

X Filme Creative Pool GmbH
Kurfürstenstr. 57
10785 Berlin/Germany
phone +49-30-23 08 33 11
fax +49-30-23 08 33 22