Books to Film: The 2019 Books at Berlinale Draws From Biggest Submission Pool Yet

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Twelve titles will be presented for potential film development on February 11 as part of this year’s Books at Berlinale program at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Books at Berlinale will be held again at Berlin’s Abgeordnetenhaus, in its 2019 iteration on February 11. Image: Julia Biermann, Frankfurter Buchmesse

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

Books at Berlinale’s 14th Year: February 11

In a season in which books-to-film issues are growing more important for publishers, special attention will be on this year’s Books at Berlinale program, which again is sponsored by the Frankfurter Buchmesse along with the Berlinale Co-Production Market, a part of the European Film Market (EFM).

Film producers who would like to be part of this year’s event should write of their interest by February 4 to books@berlinale.de.

Organizers say that this year more than 160 submissions were made from more than 30 countries, and the event itself will again be held at Berlin’s state parliament building, the Abgeordnetenhaus. During the session, rights holders will participate in moderated pitch sessions to film producers.

Juergen Boos

In a prepared statement, Frankfurter Buchmesse director Juergen Boos is quoted, saying, “The selection consistently includes exciting new releases, bestsellers and prize-winning books with very high screen-adaptation potential—from 11 countries this year, which once again shows the diversity of the international literary landscape.

“I’m particularly pleased that Dance or Die’, a title by a Syrian author, is in the running.

“It’s important for the moving stories of our time to be told in different ways so that they reach a wide public.”

Boos’ reference to Dance or Die is to the true story of Ahmad Joudeh, who held on to his dream of dancing despite the war in Syria and threats from extremists, a compelling demonstration of the power of peaceful resistance through art. the book is represented by the Italian publisher DeA Planeta Libri.

Dieter Kosslick

The Books at Berlinale co-founder, Dieter Kosslick, is quotes, saying, “Our idea was and is to connect producers with the publishing industry on the basis of a curated selection of outstanding international books that are particularly suitable for filming.

“It’s great that Books at Berlinale continues to grow in the 14th year of its existence and is enjoying ever greater popularity.”

This year’s selection includes books and/or publishers and literary agents from Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, South Korea, Syria, and Turkey.

In moderated pitch sessions, literary agents present selected books for the consideration of film producers. Image: 2018 Books at Berlinale, Julia Biermann, Frankfurter Buchmesse

Selected Titles for Books at Berlinale 2019
  •  Dance or Die (Ahmad Joudeh, Syria), DeA Planeta Libri, Italy
  •  Love in Case of Emergency / Die Liebe im Ernstfall (Daniela Krien, Germany) Diogenes Verlag, Switzerland
  •  Salt on our Skin (Benoîte Groult), Editions Grasset & Fasquelle, France
  •  The Invisible Girl (Blue Jeans), Editorial Planeta, Spain
  •  The Wannsee Murder / Die Tote im Wannsee (Lutz Wilhelm Kellerhoff), Elisabeth Ruge Agentur, Germany
  •  The Girl with the Leica (Helena Janeczek, Germany) Gruppo editoriale Mauri Spagnol, Italy
  •  The Guest (Nermin Yıldırım), Kalem Agency, Turkey
  •  Keep Saying Their Names (Simon Stranger), Oslo Literary Agency, Norway
  •  Play Dead (A.F. Th. van der Heijden), Singel Uitgeverijen, Netherlands
  •  The Good Son (You-jeong Jeong, Republic of Korea), The Artists Partnership, UK
  •  Rightful Blood (Francesca Melandri), The Italian Literary Agency, Italy
  •  Great, and You? / Super, und dir? (Kathrin Weßling), Ullstein Buchverlage, Germany

The event has been held every year since 2006, organized by the Berlin International Film Festival in cooperation with Frankfurt. This year’s 160 submissions sets a new record.

This year’s selection from Norway precedes the country’s programming as the Frankfurter Buchmesse’s Guest of Honor at the fair October 16 to 20.

Simon Stranger’s Keep Saying Their Names (Leksikon om lys og mørke) has seen its foreign rights sell quickly into 11 territories and languages. The book, presented by the Oslo Literary Agency, won the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize in November and is both a critical and popular success.

The audience at the 2018 Books at Berlinale event. Image: Frankfurter Buchmesse, Julia Biermann


More from Publishing Perspectives on Books at Berlinale is here, and on books to film is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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