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Shooting begins as Beta Film partners with Oscar-winning director Florian Gallenberger on “The Turncoat”


Jun 13 2019

Munich, 13 June 2019. Beta Film and Oscar-winning director Florian Gallenberger continue their long-lasting partnership with The Turncoat, a captivating WWII drama in the tradition of International Emmy-awarded and highly acclaimed Generation War. The limited series by producer Dreamtool for public broadcaster NDR, ARD Degeto and SWR, which is currently being shot in Poland and Germany, is based on the internationally best-selling novel by Siegfried Lenz, one of the most important and widely-read authors of German post-war and contemporary literature. Multi-awarded director Gallenberger (John Rabe, Colonia, Quiero ser) and scriptwriter Bernd Lange (The Vanishing) depict the story of young Wehrmacht soldier Walter, who is stranded in the no man’s land of the Polish forests, surrounded by partisans, questioning the meaning of duty, conscience, friendship and love.

Up-and-coming German talent Jannis Niewöhner (Maximilian and Marie de Bourgogne, Beat) stars alongside Malgorzata Mikolajczak, Sebastian Urzendowsky (Academy Award-winning The Counterfeiters), Rainer Bock (Academy Award-nominated Never Look Away), and Ulrich Tukur (Academy Award-winning The Lives of Others). Producers are Stefan Raiser and Felix Zackor. The Turncoat (4 hours) will be shot in Krakow, Wroclaw, Warsaw, and Bavaria and wraps at the end of August. Beta Film handles world sales and will present first images at MIPCOM in Cannes this fall.

Siegfried Lenz, whose books were translated into 22 languages and sold more than 20 million times, had himself deserted during the last days of the war. He wrote the novel in 1951 at the age of 25, but kept it under lock and key due to profound criticism in post-war Germany. The Turncoat was only rediscovered and published two years after his death in 2016. Since then, the novel has been published throughout Europe and Asia, a U.S. release is due soon.

Director Florian Gallenberger: “While the novel was way ahead of the curve in 1951, today it is immensely relevant. Nationalist tendencies are on the rise all over the globe, the desire for strong leaders and simple answers to complex questions is more and more prevalent. The Turncoat deals with issues that are highly urgent today; therefore, it is a novel ripe for adaptation. Lenz has succeeded in facing these complex questions of guilt and responsibility on a deeply human level. He tells this through the viewpoint of his characters so we can not only relate to and understand their emotions but live through them as well.”

Producer Stefan Raiser: "These are stormy times, even though we are the generation which has everything – peace, freedom and prosperity. We want to create a touching film that shows us how important it is to fight for these values, just as Lenz himself wanted to do with his novel."

Summer 1944. Walter Proska (Jannis Niewöhner) is about to return to the Eastern Front when his train is blown up by partisans. Together with a scattered bunch of German soldiers, cut off from the front, he awaits certain death while the commands of his superior Willi Stehauf (Rainer Bock) are becoming more and more senseless and inhuman. Proska's encounter with the young Polish partisan Wanda (Malgorzata Mikolajczak) and his friendship with his comrade Kürschner (Sebastian Urzendowsky) increasingly make him doubt the validity of his oath of allegiance. As the Red Army draws closer, Proska becomes a prisoner of war and can only save himself by defecting to the enemy.

The Turncoat is produced by Dreamtool Entertainment for NDR, ARD Degeto, and SWR, supported by the Polish Film Institute, the FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, and the MFG Filmförderung Baden-Württemberg.

For further information:
Dorothee Stoewahse
Tel: + 49 89 67 34 69 15
Cell: + 49 170 63 84 627,

Pics available at:, Login: ftppress01, Password: 8synopsis, File: Beta Film