Germany’s ‘Books at Berlinale’ Competition Welcomes 12 International Novels

In News by Porter Anderson

As literary adaptations are shown in the Berlin International Film Festival, new works with potential for cinematic development are pitched on February 14.

The red iconic logo is a familiar sight during the Berlin International Film Festival, here seen last year at Potsdamer Platz. Image – iStockphoto: Max Ozerov

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

A Dozen Books Vie in the Event’s 12th Year

Nazlı Gürkaş of Istanbul’s Kalem Literary Agency pitches ‘Soraya’ by Meltem Yilmaz at Books at Berlinale last year.

Titles from Belgium, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and the UK have been selected from more than 130 initial entries in this year’s Books at Berlinale competition.

As reported by Publishing Perspectives last year, Books at Berlinale is a collaboration between the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 11-15) and the Berlin International Film Festival (February 9 through 19). The program began in 2006 and brings together literature and cinema, in having a select group of books presented to film producers who might want to consider developing them for the cinema.

Books at Berlinale sends out an open call for applications every year. Publishers and literary agents apply by submitting novels they believe had potential for film adaptations.

This year, the field of entries comprised material from some 30 countries and the 12 titles selected for presentations include new work from bestsellers Martin Suter of Switzerland and Herman Koch of the Netherlands, whose Het Dinner (The Dinner) is a film with Richard Gere in competition at the Berlinale. Another familiar author, the Kurdish writer Bachtyar Ali, is represented with a new work, as well.

Juergen Boos

“Books at Berlinale is now a must-attend event for producers,” says Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, “not least because many success stories begin here.

“Last year, Philipp Winkler’s debut novel Hool was presented at Books at Berlinale [and] the film rights have since been optioned.

“And again this year, from a record number of more than 130 submissions, the jury has selected those books that stand out for their high screen-adaptation potential. I’m certain that we’ll see the results on the big screen in a few years’ time.”

Books Chosen for the 2017 Books at Berlinale Event

This year’s pitching of the selected books is on February 14 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at the Berlin House of Representatives, Abgeordnetenhaus. It’s featured as part of the Co-Production Market.

Film producers active in literary adaptations may register along with journalists, publishers and agents, for the event by emailing

The titles selected for presentation are as follows.

  • Elefant (Martin Suter), Diogenes Verlag, Switzerland
  • Never Be Sad Again (Baptiste Beaulieu), Éditions Fayard, France
  • The Boy (Marcus Malte), Éditions Zulma, France
  • Ein mögliches Leben / One possible life (Hannes Köhler), Elisabeth Ruge Agentur, Germany
  • The Mascoteers: Enter the Zebra (Rollo de Walden), Kaiken Publishing, Finland
  • The Last Pomegranate (Bachtyar Ali), Literarische Agentur Mertin, Germany
  • The History of Bees (Maja Lunde), Norse Code Agency, Norway
  • Berlin – Fires of Tegel (Fabio Geda & Marco Magnone), Oetinger Filmrechte-Agentur, Germany
  • The Ditch (Herman Koch), Shared Stories, The Netherlands
  • We Own the Sky (Luke Allnutt), The Artists Partnership, UK
  • The Remnant (Rafael Cardoso), Villas-Boas & Moss Literary Agency, Brazil
  • The Joyce Girl (Annabel Abbs), Zeitgeist Literary Agency, Belgium

And for those interested in seeing literary adaptations, this year’s Special Gala at the Zoo Palast will present the premiere of the film adaptation of Eugen Ruge’s prize-winning novel In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts (In Times of Fading Light).

The Lost City of Z, a feature film by James Gray, is based on the bestselling novel by David Grann.

This year, three adaptations of literary works are in competition for the Golden Bear:

  • The American production The Dinner (directed by Oren Moverman; book written by Koch);
  • The Polish film Pokot (directed by Agnieszka Holland; book written by Olga Tokarczuk); and
  • Return to Montauk (directed by Volker Schlöndorff; book written by Max Frisch).

In addition, T2 Trainspotting, the sequel to Danny Boyle’s British film (book written by Irvine Welsh) will be screened separately, and is not part of the competition.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter

Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.