Told, more than thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the story of the village “Unterleuten”, a fictional village in the Brandenburg province. Here they live together: Wende winners and Wende losers, Ostalgics, capitalists, city dwellers and old-timers. And anyone who thinks they can step out of contemporary history and into the idyll in the countryside is sorely mistaken. For the skeletons that lie in the cellar cannot be concealed in the long run. When a wind farm is to be built in the immediate vicinity of the village, this divides the inhabitants. Friends become enemies and vice versa.
The social novel “Unterleuten” by Juli Zeh was one of the most widely read novels of the year in 2016 and remained in the upper echelons of the bestseller lists for months. Reinhold Elschot and Silke Pützer produced the novel for ZDF on original locations in Brandenburg and Berlin.
In front of Theo Bierkens’ camera, the ensemble film stars Hermann Beyer, Nina Gummich, Alexander Held, Alexander Hörbe, Charly Hübner, Bettina Lamprecht, Úna Lir, Bjarne Mädel, Dagmar Manzel, Jacob Matschenz, Ulrich Noethen, Sarina Radomski, Christine Schorn, Jörg Schüttauf, Miriam Stein, Mina Tander, Thomas Thieme and Rosalie Thomass, among others. The scripts for the ZDF three-parter were written by Magnus Vattrodt. With “Unterleuten,” director Geschonneck and author Vattrodt continue their award-winning and successful collaboration for ZDF (“Ein großer Aufbruch,” “Das Zeugenhaus,” “Südstadt”).
Part 1 on Monday, March 9, 2020 at 8:15 p.m. on ZDF.
The village of Unterleuten in Brandenburg is a microcosm of German-German village life. Surrounded by golden cornfields and large expanses of forest, long-established villagers live here alongside city-weary newcomers. When the mayor invites the residents to a village meeting, many do not yet suspect the abysses that will open up in the hitherto peaceful village life: A lucrative wind farm is to be built not far from Unterleuten. While a part of the inhabitants decides to take up the fight against the establishment of the wind park, the owners of the land pieces in question begin now to vie for the tender and the profitable lease.
Part 2 on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at 8:15 p.m. on ZDF.
In Unterleuten, the interests of the residents clash: while a large part mobilizes against the construction of the wind farm, the different ownership structures lead to conflicts among other residents, and events come to a head: an investor from southern Germany tries to gain a competitive advantage. The mayor sees the village’s existence threatened if the contract is not awarded to the local “Ökologica,” since it is the largest employer. However, the company does not have enough hectares in the suitability area, whereupon the managing director exerts his influence in the village community. Old enmities boil up, and the situation threatens to escalate when a child disappears.
Part 3 on Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 8:15 p.m. on ZDF.
The mayor tries to defuse the tense situation between the residents and mediates on all fronts. The investor from southern Germany and the managing director of the “Ökologica” are vying for the land of a young entrepreneur who has moved in and wants to capitalize on it. Meanwhile, the “Ökologica” suffers from strikes and sabotage, and ultimately a divided village is left behind.
“Unterleuten” is a production of Network Movie Film and Television Production, Jutta Lieck-Klenke.
Photos: © ZDF / Stefan Erhard
Photomontage group picture: © ZDF / Mathias Bothor