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Annual Top Films Lists

Through the Looking-Glass…Top 100 Most Anticipated Films of 2018: #5. Christian Petzold’s Transit


Director: Christian Petzold
Writer: Christian Petzold

It’s already been four years since Christian Petzold unveiled his last masterwork, Phoenix, which (along with 2012’s Barbara) significantly elevated the Berlin School alum’s international acclaim. His next project, Transit, is an adaptation of a 1944 novel by Anna Seghers (the notable German Jewish author has a significant body of work, and her 1939 novel The Seventh Cross was adapted into a 1944 film starring Spencer Tracy), and finds Petzold returning to WWII ravaged Europe. Set a few years before the period depicted in Phoenix, this latest takes place in Nazi occupied France, and concerns a young man who escapes a concentration camp. Asked to assist his friend by delivering a letter to a writer in Paris, the man arrives to find the man has committed suicide. Adopting the writer’s identity, he doesn’t expect he’ll have to contend with the dead man’s wife who is desperately searching for her husband….but falling in love with the woman, the imposter must figure out a way to leave France together without her finding out she has her husband’s transit visa.

Cast: TBA

Production Co./Producer(s): Schramm Film Koerner & Weber, Neon Productions.

U.S. Distributor: Rights available.

Release Date: Continuing to mine dark periods of Germany’s history, Transit promises to be another stellar achievement from Petzold. As more details emerge, we can expect his usual collaborator Nina Hoss to be cast as the dead writer’s wife (which will be an interesting counterpoint to her lead role in Phoenix if this ends up being the case). Petzold has premiered most often in Berlin (four times, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2012) and competed in Venice with 2008’s Jerichow. Traditionally, German films tend to be locked out of consideration at Cannes, but thanks to the extremely positive response to Phoenix following its premiere at 2014 TIFF (not to mention the response to Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann at 2016 Cannes), plus funding from the German-French funding committee, perhaps means Petzold can finally secure entrance to Cannes with Transit.

[related]Most Anticipated Films of 2018[/related]

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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