Xavier Koller directs Moritz Bleibtreu in a band of chimney sweeps
by Bénédicte Prot
26/06/2012 - From the middle of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, hundreds of children aged between 8 and 15 came down to Milan and other towns in Lombardy and Piemont to escape the misery in their native mountains. Because they were so small, they were very good at climbing up inside chimneys. After their families left them to Italian chief chimney sweeps, they worked in slave-like conditions that often led to their death, from bronchitis, cold, or hunger. In 1940/41, German authoress Liza Teztner and her husband Kurt Kläber dedicated a famous children’s story to them called The Black Brothers, in which its young hero, Giorgio, manages to band together with his friends to escape the dark universe of the chimneys.
This novel, based on the tragedy, has now inspired Oscar-winning Swiss director Xavier Koller’s new film (after notably Journey of Hope in 1991), Die Schwarzen Brüder (lit. “The black brothers”), which has been shooting since June 14. The screenplay was written by Fritjof Hohagen and Klaus Richter, and the main roles have been given to Moritz Bleibtreu (photo), Richy Müller, and Waldemar Kobus. The cast will also include Dominique Horwitz, Catrin Striebeck, and Sabine Timoteo (The Free Will). Pixomondo will be in charge of the film’s special effects.
Shooting will be ongoing until mid-August in Ticino, Cologne, Frankfurt, and South Tyrol. The film is produced by Enigma Film in co-production with Starhaus Filmproduktion, Dschoint Ventschr, Herold Productions, Monaco Film, and enigmafilm West, and with the support of the FFA, the DFFF, the German and Swiss culture ministries, as well as several regional funds in both countries. Studiocanal is set to release Die Schwarzen Brüder in German cinemas next year.
(Translated from French)