Home Entertainment Embracing Pulpy Genre, Germany’s Hnywood Aims for the Stars (EXCLUSIVE) 

Embracing Pulpy Genre, Germany’s Hnywood Aims for the Stars (EXCLUSIVE) 

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An ambitious new production company is making waves in Germany, where it’s following up its successful 2020 comedy pic debut with a stylish erotic thriller that harkens back to Hollywood classics of the 1980s.

Launched in 2020 by Andreas Kröneck and Antonio Fernandes Lopes in the southwestern Baden-Württemberg city of Heilbronn, Hnywood is aiming high with plans to recapture the cinematic magic of yesteryear, including Edgar Wallace masked-killer mysteries and sexy swashbuckling space operas.

Hnywood – short for “Heilbronnywood” — is presenting its latest title, “Steal Her Breath,” at the European Film Market (EFM), where it is selling the film in strategic partnership with Munich-based Morefilms.

Written and directed by Kröneck, the film follows virtuoso thief Laura as she outmaneuvers relentless detective Maxine in a dangerous yet passionate cat-and-mouse game while a sadistic killer marks them for death.

“Steal Her Breath” stars Luisa Binger as the elusive thief, Christina Lopes (“Faustdick”) as the policewoman on her tail, and Katy Karrenbauer (“Cloud Atlas,” “Eldorado KaDeWe”) as the “queenpin” Bernie.

The film is very inspired by the works of Brian De Palma and the classic thrillers of the 1980s and 90s, says Kröneck.

In a rarity for German films, Hnywood produced the €2.5 million ($2.7 million) pic sans regional or federal film funding, tapping instead private investors and venture capital.

Producing without subsidies is “possible but it is of course a high entrepreneurial risk, which is something one is not accustomed to in Germany,” says Kröneck.

The film was backed by private investors and the company is raising venture capital for future productions, namely genre films made in Germany for the international market, including horror, fantasy and science fiction films, also in English language, he adds.

It’s a structure that allows for a much quicker production time, Kröneck points out. “This film took, from coming up with the idea to its completion, a little more than a year.”

“Steal Her Breath” shot in Heilbronn and in Matera, Italy (which also served as a key location in the James Bond film “No Time to Die”).

Hnywood’s debut production, “Faustdick,” a comedy about a dangerously indebted slacker forced to make a movie in order to pay back a loan shark, was likewise produced and financed independently. Released in 2020, it saw initial local success in pop-up drive-in theaters during the pandemic before it was acquired by Berlin-based distrib Neue Visionen for German-speaking territories, with Madrid-based Moonrise Pictures handling international.

Describing Hnywood as a kind of start-up, Kröneck says he and his team are eager to tackle the film market with “a great deal of entrepreneurial energy.”

At the same time, Kröneck stresses that Hnywood is not against state film funding and would certainly use it in future projects, including for a possible show it is currently developing for a series competition sponsored by pubcaster SWR. The logline: “Swabians vs. aliens,” says Kröneck.

Swabians are the people of the Swabian region that encompasses parts of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria and Kröneck is eager to highlight the traditional culture and distinct local traditions of the area and the fact that they are dying out.

The series, described as a mix of tragicomedy and science fiction horror, follows a TV personality whose trash-TV career is going downhill and returns home to her Swabian village with the idea of creating a reality TV show. As family friction arises, an alien invasion ensues, further complicating things.

Kröneck is also eager to tap local talent, particularly that of the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg, which boasts top animation and visual effects specialists.

“We want to try to produce genre cinema in Germany,” he stresses.

In addition to a modern adaptation of an Edgar Wallace classic and the space opera, Hnywood is developing a horror thriller.

“The Edgar Wallace films were the precursors to the later giallo and slasher movies,” Kröneck notes. “They were whodunnit slashers, like ‘Scream,’ with a masked murderer going around [killing people].”

Kröneck is also eager to use the area’s impressive local VFX talent for a classic “old-fashioned, unconstrained and sexy” sci-fi adventure that takes a page from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter pulp novels, replete with scantily clad heroes.

Expressing his love for old pulp stories, Kröneck says the film will be just as unconstrained as those tales used to be but “told with a lot of heart and intelligence.”

“We believe there’s a market and a demand for such films,” he adds, noting that there are no movies today like “Conan the Barbarian.”

That’s something the Hnywood team hopes to change.