Cannes: Austrian Production Company Schubert Launches With Projects From Past Fest Contenders

European cinema has a new production boutique. Austrian producer Johannes Schubert, whose latest work with compatriot Jessica Hauser, Club Zero, is screening in this year’s Cannes competition, has launched a stand-alone production outfit, called simply Schubert.

The company’s initial slate includes new features from Austria’s Markus Schleinzer, director of 2011 Cannes competition entry  Michael  and 2018’s  Angelo, which premiered in San Sebastian; Egyptian-Austrian writer/director Abu Bakr Shawky, a 2018 Palme d’Or contender with  Yomeddine; and the new project from Germany’s Franz Böhm, whose Dear Future Children won the 2021 audience award at Toronto’’s Hot Docs fest.

Rose, Schleinzer’s new film, is a 17th-century period drama set in the aftermath of the Thirty Years’ War, in which a mysterious soldier appears in a secluded Protestant village, claiming to be the heir to a long-abandoned estate. The soldier tries to fit in and even contemplates an arranged marriage with the daughter of a wealthy farmer, but the villagers, and an old servant on the estate, doubt his true identity. The project, inspired by hundreds of documented cases of transgender figures in European history, is in the financing stage, with Germany’s Karsten Stöter of Row Pictures on board as co-producer and backing in place from the Austrian Film Institute and the Vienna Film Fund. Packaging is underway and Schubert expects to soon unveil a major German actress cast to play the lead. 

Böhm’s  Keep Her Quiet, which has secured pre-production financing from Germany’s MFG film fund, Austrian Film Institute, and the Vienna Film Fund, is a fictionalized thriller based on the true-life story of the journalists who first reported on the existence of internment camps for the Uyghur Muslim minority in western China. The film follows an Uyghur journalist based in Washington D.C. who risks everything to uncover the truth about China’s policy of “cultural genocide” and traces a young Uyghur woman’s escape from the camps.

For something completely different, Schubert is developing Abu Bakr Shawky’s Ramses, a political satire/road movie set against the attempt to build the first car “made in Egypt” in the 1960s. But when the car breaks down during a test drive across the Austrian Alps, Selma, a young motoring journalist, uncovers the truth behind the vehicle’s origins and finds herself at the forefront of a diplomatic crisis. The project is still in the script stage.

Operating in Austria and Germany, Schubert is also looking to get on board projects as a co-producer, hoping to benefit from Austria’s new production incentive, which in addition to a 35 percent tax incentive, includes a potentially game-changing 60 percent tax rebate up to $5.5 million [€5 million] per project on an international local spend of at least $109,000 [€100,000] above Austrian financing.

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