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Berlin Alexanderplatz: Repurposing a classic

Alfred Döblin’s ‘Berlin Alexanderplatz’ (1929) is a classic modernist novel from the Weimar era, telling the story of an ordinary man, Franz Biberkopf, trying to stay afloat in a society riven by corruption, violence and political prejudice. The hero, Francis, wants to be a good man and to live honestly but circumstances keep on getting in the way. Geoffrey Macnab talks to Leontine Petit, Dutch co-producer of Berlin Alexanderplatz.

It was made into a mini-series by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1980. Now, a contemporary version, Berlin Alexanderplatz, directed by Afghan-German auteur Burhan Qurbani, produced by Sommerhaus Filmproduktion and Lemming Film, and sold by Beta Cinema, is screening in Berlinale competition. It is supported by the Film Fund and Production Incentive.

“It’s a different approach on Alfred Döblin’s novel, told in the present day from the perspective of a refugee,” Leontine Petit (Lemming Film) says of Qurbani’s 3-hour re-imagining of the story, which she boarded after its pitch at CineMart 2016. “We really get into the head of an illegal refugee and experience what it is like to arrive in Europe and how to survive.”

Read the complete interview with Leontine Petit about the making of Berlin Alexanderplatz on issuu.com

Text by Geoffrey Macnab

Still: Berlin Alexanderplatz, Burhan Qurbani