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BABYLON BERLIN: X Filme, ARD, Sky and Beta present exclusive clips

Sky to broadcast from 13th October 2017/ Event Programming on Das Erste in late 2018

Berlin 8th February 2017. At a press conference today in Clärchens Ballhaus, Berlin, X Filme, Creative Pool, ARD Sky and Beta Film presented an initial insight into their joint series project BABYLON BERLIN. To begin with, director and authors Tom Tykwer, Henk Handloegten and Achim von Borries introduced clips of the series, which comprises two series of eight episodes each; and spoke about the shoot, which took place over the course of 180 days last year. The series was filmed from May to December 2016 in Berlin, Brandenburg and Nordrhein Westfalen.

Tom Tykwer had this to say regarding the intense shoot: ‘After almost three years working on the script, getting together for filming was an unbelievable joy. We had over 180 days to film, and sometimes we shot two or even three units parallel to one another. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine how we got it done. A big thank-you to our unbelievable team.’ At the same time he emphasized the teamwork with Achim von Borries and Henk Handloegten. ‘We wrote and produced the entire series together. There isn’t a single episode in which we weren’t all involved.’

For Achim von Borries the series has a clear protagonist: ‘The city of Berlin is quite clearly the focal point of our series. In 1929, Berlin was international, magical, a cosmopolitan capital city which drew the whole world to it. It was a real challenge to recreate the Berlin of the 1920s. The Neue Berliner Strasse, which our set designer Uli Hahnisch developed for the Babelsberg studio, made it possible for us to use streets from various parts of Berlin.’

Henk Handloegten highlighted the relevance of the series: ‘The 20s were all about partying. After defeat in the First World War, fathers were no longer home, and sons and daughters were dancing on the tables. This was possible due to the absence of authority figures, like in Berlin after the fall of the Wall. But then, towards the end of the 20s, things start happening way too quickly for people, the world becomes confusing, too chaotic, and the clamour for an iron fist grows louder and louder. In the course of the shoot, the world around us began to resemble BABYLON BERLIN more and more. Our series is more relevant than ever.’

Volker Bruch (‘Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter) and Liv Lisa Fries (‘Sie hat es verdient’) play the roles of Gereon Rath and Charlotte Ritter respectively. Volker Bruch recalled the shoot of the previous year enthusiastically: ‘BABYLON BERLIN was a relentless, dazzling ride. So many people have invested so much love and passion into this vision this past year. The project won’t let me go. It’s still with me, both as a satisfying memory and a breathtaking experience. I’ve never felt in such good hands (or so well dressed), creatively or in terms of the people involved.’

Liv Lisa Fries had this to say: ‘2016 was a year of fantastic colleagues, inspiring scenes and three wonderful directors. The shoot was inspiring, challenging, harmonious and invigorating. I danced a lot, I talked a lot, laughed and cried, I was euphoric, I was Charlotte Ritter.’

Producer Stefan Arndt emphasized the unique nature of the collaboration. ‘Bringing together Germany’s passion for crime stories with the most exciting time in Germany and Berlin’s history is a huge challenge, and unbelievably satisfying. Doing this with such expert partners, both our creative people as well as our friends from DEGETO, ARD, SKY and Beta, gives us hope that we can take up the tradition of German story-telling on television, and once again offer the public a German TV series that people will watch both nationally and internationally.’

Producer Uwe Schott added: ‘With an unbelievably engaged team of over 400 people, we were able to bring Berlin of the 1920s to life. Our thanks go to the sponsors, Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg, The Film and Media Foundation NRW, the German Motion Picture Fund and the EU Media Programme. We also thank the city of Berlin for its fantastic support.’

Carsten Schmidt, CEO of Sky Deutschland, revealed the broadcasting schedule. BABYLON BERLIN will be shown from 13th October at 20.15 on Sky Atlantic. Sky will broadcast double episodes of the series. Schmidt said this: ‘In the past few weeks, I have had many chances to watch our creative people go about their work. What I have seen impressed me very much, and gives me a very good feeling. In its production and narrative style BABYLON BERLIN will change the TV landscape in Germany. I’m already looking forward to the premiere on Sky.’

BABYLON BERLIN will then appear on Das Erste in 2018. Volker Herres, programme director explained: ‘BABYLON BERLIN is a filmic event of the first order, and we will schedule it accordingly for our viewing public. A historical documentary about this period of radical change is planned alongside, a period that is more relevant than ever at this point in time. And the series will be available online first, accessible prior to its linear transmission. We have forged a brave, new path in conjunction with our partners and I can already say this for viewers: it has paid off.’

Christine Strobl, CEO of ARD Degeto, said this: ‘BABYLON BERLIN will make German TV competitive on the international scale. We have forged a completely new path in terms of the project’s financing, which may serve as a model for future series. BABYLON BERLIN is not just a historical crime series set in 1920s Berlin; but represents the creation of a unique, new world in which Volker Bruch and Liv Lisa Fries dazzle as Gereon and Charlotte.’

As co-producer, Beta Film have taken on the worldwide distribution of the series: ‘We are delighted that the special qualities of BABYLON BERLIN, which we have known about from the start, have now begun to convince other parties too,’ said CEO Jan Mojto. ‘SVT Sweden, NRK Norway, DR Denmark, YLE Finland and RUV Iceland have already come to a decision on the basis of the script. In the last few days, they have been joined by Sky Italy, Sky Great Britain, the Spanish premium platform Moviestar +/Telefonica and the Belgian pay partner Telenet. Negotiations are in their final stages in the USA, France as well as in other European territories and Latin America.’

Based on the international bestselling series by Volker Kutscher, BABYLON BERLIN tells the story of Inspector Gereon Rath, as he makes his way through the maelstrom of drugs and politics, murder and art, emancipation and extremism that is 1920s Berlin.

Press release translation by Niall Seller, translator of Babylon Berlin and The Silent Death.

The Silent Death will be released on the 18th of May, 2017.

Volker Kutscher

Volker Kutscher