© Roger von Heereman
From book to screen - and in the middle of the Cannes Film Festival: the "Shoot the Book" event, organised by the French publishers' association SCELF and the Institut Français - with Frankfurter Buchmesse as event partner - brings the book industry and the film industry together. Ten titles selected by a jury were presented at the pitch session to the approximately 170 film producers present. Two of the ten publications came from Germany. We spoke with Dr. Katharina Meyer from Merlin Verlag about participating in the event on the Côte d'Azur.
Dr Meyer, you were on site at the event in Cannes. Can you tell us something about the pitch session?
Actually, two of us went to Cannes. The pitch was prepared and presented by Marie Thiriet, our Rights Manager at Merlin.
It was a first for us to be part of both Shoot the Book! and the Cannes Film Festival and its legendary red carpet!
The fact that the jury of Shoot the Book! chose our title alongside nine other title proposals from other publishers was a great success! It was a huge opportunity to be able to present the book to international film producers and get them interested in it.
For each of the 10 selected titles, there were two minutes of video pitch and five minutes of Q&A, for which we were very well prepared thanks to Ms Agathe Berman, who was the coach and also the moderator of the pitch session beforehand.
The room of the press conference where the session took place was well filled and it was a very nice, lively and inspiring event.
You presented Heinz Heger's book "The Men with the Pink Triangle" in Cannes. The book deals with the persecution of homosexuals during the Hitler regime. Why would you like to see the title made into a film?
The story is unbelievable, but true. It sheds light on the persecution of homosexuals in concentration camps and tells of a particular survival strategy. One understands the perversity and ambiguity of the concentration camp hierarchy, which simultaneously wanted to destroy gay men and also used them for their own sexual needs.
The book was first published by Merlin Verlag in 1972 - exactly 50 years ago! - for the first time. Since then there have been regular reprints and many licensed editions abroad. It very quickly became a mythical book of the gay movement.
From the beginning, the author had also wanted a film version to make this dark side of the story known.
During all these years, there were regular requests from producers. The film potential of the material was always clear to us. When the opportunity arose in Cannes, the moment had come for us to revive the project once again.
What was the response like in Cannes? Did you get to talk to film producers at the event? Will we soon be able to see a book adaptation in the cinema?
A book adaptation soon would be a dream come true. But of course the film industry has its own procedures that we book people have to adapt to!
We are very happy with the response in Cannes. In connection with the pitch session, there was the opportunity for B2B appointments. Time for these appointments was tight and the calendars of all participants filled up very quickly! Some appointments were planned in advance, others came up on the spot.
The topic is of course challenging and even if it doesn't always fit the producers' focus, all those we spoke to understood that it was a very important topic to work on for the film. And all these producers wanted to read the book. So we are still in the middle of the exchange and are very excited to see what develops from the further talks. We will of course keep you informed!
Dr Meyer, thank you very much for the interview!
The interview was conducted by Frank Krings, PR Manager of Frankfurter Buchmesse.