EXCLUSIVE: Wavelength’s documentary Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer is proving a hot property. The Emmy-winning film production company headed by Jenifer Westphal today announced Shout! Studios has acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film, and MetFilm has acquired international rights.
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Thomas von Steinaecker wrote and directed the documentary about Werner Herzog, the legendary German filmmaker who has brought to life dozens of films including Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), and documentaries Grizzly Man (2005), Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010), and Meeting Gorbachev (2018). Von Steinaecker’s film “presents a comprehensive portrait of an iconic artist of our time and features interviews with Robert Pattinson, Nicole Kidman, Chloé Zhao, Christian Bale, and more,” according to a release. “With exclusive behind-the-scenes access into Herzog’s everyday life, rare and never-before-seen archival material and in-depth interviews with the man himself and celebrated collaborators, we are given an exciting glimpse into his process and personal life.”
Wavelength says the film is “the first and only documentary on the legendary auteur Werner Herzog, co-produced with Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning production company Spring Films and German production studio 3B.” It premiered at Telluride last year, as part of a celebration of Herzog’s 80th birthday.
“We are thrilled to bring this story to U.S. audiences,” said Westphal, founder, CEO and executive producer of Wavelength. “It is the only full access documentary on the iconic filmmaking pioneer that is Werner Herzog. This isn’t just another Hollywood biopic. It’s a rare and unmatched look into Werner’s life and creative process. It truly is a great story and it’s been an honor to have been entrusted to tell Werner’s story the right way.”
Jordan Fields, SVP Acquisitions and Originals at Shout! Studios, said in a statement: “As the North American home of Werner Herzog’s catalog, we are thrilled to distribute this profoundly thoughtful and entertaining look at one of cinema’s true titans. Thomas von Steinaecker’s intriguing film will be catnip for Herzog’s longtime fans, but it’s also a broadly appealing introduction to colorful history and fascinating artistic process of a pop culture icon.”
Herzog was born in Munich but grew up in a remote Bavarian town in a house without running water or a telephone. At 19 he made his first film, and he later became a key figure in the creative explosion of New German Cinema, along with filmmakers Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Volker Schlöndorff, and Wim Wenders. In 2009 he was named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
“He is a film director, screenwriter, author, actor, and opera director best known for his unusual filmmaking process,” Wavelength notes. “He is the man who had a 320-ton steamboat hauled over a steep hill in Peru, who hypnotizes his actors, climbs down into volcanoes, talks to murderers on death row, cooks and eats his own shoe and was shot at. He’s the man who lends his voice to The Simpsons, stars in blockbusters such as The Mandalorian and The Man – who in a sort of magical act – walked from Munich to Paris to prevent the death of a woman ﬁlm critic he greatly admired. It is stories such as these that have made this remarkable director a cult ﬁgure the world over.”
Wavelength is an award-winning New York-based film production company helmed by Emmy-winning filmmakers Jenifer Westphal and Joe Plummer. “The duo is best known for both supporting stories that highlight little-known or under-recognized communities,” the company notes, “as well as championing significant tastemakers and individuals of cultural impact.”
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