• Alexander Wadouh  © Nina Reichmann
    Chromosom Film -
    Passion for

A portrait of producer Alexander Wadouh

Alexander Wadouh © Nina Reichmann

“I’d been fascinated by the film world from an early age and initially wanted to be an actor before then thinking of becoming a director,” recalls Alexander Wadouh of Berlin-based Chromosom Film. The fact that he would eventually become a film producer was thanks to a chance phone call from a friend who recommended that he apply to the Production course at Berlin’s German Film & Television Academy (dffb).

Not that Wadouh was a greenhorn when he set about filling in his application form to the dffb in 2003 since he had already had his first taste of working in the film and TV industry with a variety of production jobs for companies like Gloria Burkert’s MTM Medien und Television München and Claussen+Wöbke Filmproduktion. After three years of studies, he then widened his horizons even further by working for Philippe Bober’s Berlin-based company Essential Filmproduktion on such projects as Shirin Neshat’s WOMEN WITHOUT MEN and Ilya Krzhanovsky’s marathon project DAU as well as for the associated sales company Coproduction Office.

Meanwhile, Wadouh had set up his own production company Chromosom Film which was catapulted into the spotlight in 2012 when his production with Schiwago Film of Jan-Ole Gerster’s tragicomedy OH BOY, starring Tom Schilling, had its world premiere in Karlovy Vary and then a day later at Filmfest München, subsequently travelling the international festival circuit to much acclaim. Gerster’s debut feature picked up six Lola statuettes at the 2013 German Film Awards and the European Discovery Award at the European Film Awards the same year.

Since then, Chromosom Film has been behind productions as diverse as Noaz Deshe’s WHITE SHADOW and Gabrielle Brady’s ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS as well as York-Fabian Raabe’s BORGA and, most recently, Florian Hoffmann’s WHISPERS OF WAR which has received audience awards at the festivals in Thessaloniki, Tallinn and Madrid.

The film will be the second film after BORGA to be released in Germany by the distributor Across Nations Wadouh founded with Tommy and Elaine Niessner of East End Film. “What I particularly like about being a producer is this variety of ideas, people and places,” Wadouh explains. “Every project has new challenges and needs a different approach toward its realisation.”

While the creative side definitely has its attraction for Wadouh, he is just as fascinated by the entrepreneurial aspect and the nuts and bolts of raising the financing for a film. “This often involves us having to think in international dimensions and come into contact with other cultures and mentalities we wouldn’t normally be dealing with. But that keeps your mind fresh and agile!”

Apart from Wadouh, there are another two producers working at the company. Julia Niethammer has been with Chromosom for the past 10 years and mainly looks after the documentaries, but is now increasingly handling fiction projects as well.

Roxana Richters, meanwhile, works exclusively on the fiction projects with a focus on up-and-coming filmmakers. “We always decide together about which projects we are going to accept or reject,” Wadouh notes. We receive lots of ideas for films, but prefer working with those screenwriters and directors we already know.”

Any new ideas have to appeal to all three pro­ducers and their decision to commit to a project comes after intensive discussions about the feasibility, financial viability and marketing potential of a particular project. “We’re interested in similar subjects which means that we rarely end up with a stalemate, but each of us has their own particular focus and preferences.”

As Wadouh points out, a common thread running the films Chromosom produces is that “they should be meaningful, have a political stance and inspire the audiences to think differently.”

“Moreover, we always want the audience to have a sense of the film’s origins as far as time and place are concerned. We don’t do pure entertainment although we naturally want to entertain people. But entering into a dialogue with a film and its content is very important for us.”

Martin Blaney