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DoP Rainer Klausmann, director Eran Riklis (photo © Arsenal Filmverleih)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 02/2010

Shooting begins this summer on the German-French-Israeli co-production PLAYOFF which is inspired by the life of Ralph Klein, Israel’s most famous ever basketball coach.

In the screenplay by David Akerman, Gidi Maron and Eran Riklis, the basketball coach Max Stoller becomes a national hero when he makes Maccabi Tel Aviv into European champions in the late 70s. But he becomes a national traitor equally as fast when he then accepts the against-all-odds job of turning the totally hopeless West German basketball team – of all people – into European winners!

Max always insists that Germany means nothing to him and that training their national team is just another job on his path to NBA glory. But things aren’t that simple as he refuses to speak German to the young players. When he discovers what happened to his own family in Germany in the 1940s, it is not what he had expected…

“The French company Fidélité had been discussing working with us for some time and then pitched us this project by Eran Riklis,” Egoli Tossell Film’s Jens Meurer recalls. “We knew of Eran’s work because our distribution company Timebandits had released his film THE SYRIAN BRIDE in Germany.”

“It is an interesting development for Eran because for the first time it takes him completely outside of Israel,” Meurer continues. “It is typical for his directorial style because there are really dramatic elements. Moreover, it is a fun and feel-good movie as Klein gets this completely hopeless German basketball team even as far as the Olympics. And, of course, I expect that Eran’s good relationship with the actors will come to the fore – after all, he was the one who put Hiam Abbas on the map.”

“In fact, it is a very German story,” he observes. “And we have a great German cast lined up, including Hanns Zischler and Max Riemelt.”

For Egoli Tossell Film, the 5 million Euro PLAYOFF will be the first production that the Berlin-based production house has shot in Hessen. “Almost 100% of the shoot will be in Hessen and we have found the right kind of locations to recreate the late 1970s and early 1980s,” Meurer explains. “In addition, we are working together with the Frankfurt Maccabi basketball team which originates from the late 1970s, and some of the players will be appearing in the scenes of basketball matches.”

PLAYOFF is set to be the first feature film production to go before the camera in what promises to be a busy year for Egoli Tossell Film. A summer start is due for Katja von Garnier’s adaptation of the first of the three Francois Lelord bestselling HECTOR'S JOURNEY novels, which will be shot at locations in Germany, China, France and South Africa as a co-production with Warner Bros. Entertainment Germany.

In addition, the company is partnering with Jim Jacks, Stuart Pollock and Spain’s Morena Films on Iain Softley’s medieval action film Ivanhoe which should shoot at locations in Middle Germany and Spain from the autumn.

Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2010
Director Eran Riklis
Screenplay David Akerman, Eran Riklis, Gidi Maron
Cinematography Rainer Klausmann
Erwin Prib
Cast Hanns Zischler, Max Riemelt
Producers Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonnier, Michael Scharfstein, Jens Meurer
Production Company Egoli Tossell Film/Berlin, in co-production with Fidélité Films/Paris, Topia Communications/Tel Aviv
Format 35 mm, color
 English, German, Hebrew, Turkish
Shooting Dates Frankfurt and Wiesbaden, June – August 2010
Sound Technology Dolby SRD
Festivals Montreal 2011
Awards Bet Actor ex aequo Danny Huston Montreal 2011
With backing from German Federal Film Board / FFA Filmförderungsanstalt, German Federal Film Fund / DFFF Deutscher Filmförderfonds, HessenInvestFilm, Eurimages

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