Florian Gallenberger - turncoat

After “Colonia,” Florian Gallenberger and Beta Film are poised to re-team on “The Turncoat,” a World War II mini-series premised on Siegfried Lenz’s bestselling novel by the same name. Florian Gallenberger is an Oscar-winning director.

Now filming in Poland and Germany, “The Turncoat” will boast a prominent German cast includingSebastian Urzendowsky (“The Counterfeiters”), Jannis Niewöhner (“Maximilian and Marie de Bourgogne”), Rainer Bock (“Never Look Away”), and Ulrich Tukur (“The Lives of Others”).

Dreamtool is producing “The Turncoat” for public broadcaster ARD Degeto, NDR, and SWR. Written by Gallenberger (John Rabe, Colonia, Quiero ser) and Bernd Lange (“The Vanishing”), “The Turncoat” portrays the story of young Wehrmacht soldier Walter who is deserted in the no man’s land of the Polish forests starts wondering the meaning of obligation, camaraderie and love.

“These are turbulent times, even though we are the generation which has everything – peace, freedom and prosperity. We want to create a moving film that shows us how important it is to fight for these values, just as Lenz himself wanted to do with his novel,” said Stefan Raiser who is creating the series with Felix Zackor.

Beta informed us that Lenz’s books were translated into 22 languages and sold more than 20 million units. The story of “The Turncoat” is motivated by his own adventures, as he had actually deserted the war during its final days. He wrote the novel in 1951 at the age of 25 but kept it secret. “The Turncoat” was only rediscovered and published two years after his death in 2016. The novel has since then been published throughout Europe and Asia, a U.S. release is due soon.

“While the novel was way ahead of the curve in 1951, today it is hugely relevant. Nationalist tendencies are on the rise all over the globe, the desire for strong leaders and simple answers to complicated questions is more and more common,” said Gallenberger.

“‘The Turncoat’ deals with issues that are very critical today; therefore, it is a novel ripe for adaptation. Lenz has succeeded in facing these complex questions of guilt and duty on a profoundly human level,” said the filmmaker.

The mini-series, which Beta explained as being in the same vein of “Generation War,” will conclude at the end of August. Beta Film takes care of world sales and will present initial images at Mipcom in October.