We learned last year that Christian Petzold, one of Germany’s great contemporary filmmakers, will follow Phoenix, one of our favorites of 2015, with Transit, based on Anna Seghers‘ World War II-era novel of the same name. Led by Franz Rogowski and Paula Beer, the film is currently shooting in Marseille and the first photos have arrived.
Judging from the first look, it seems like Petzold might have updated the story to the modern day. As we await more details, check out the synopsis of the novel below, courtesy of Amazon for the film we imagine could make its debut on the festival circuit next year:
Having escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in Germany in 1937, and later a camp in Rouen, the nameless twenty-seven-year-old German narrator of Seghers’s multilayered masterpiece ends up in the dusty seaport of Marseille. Along the way he is asked to deliver a letter to a man named Weidel in Paris and discovers Weidel has committed suicide, leaving behind a suitcase containing letters and the manuscript of a novel. As he makes his way to Marseille to find Weidel’s widow, the narrator assumes the identity of a refugee named Seidler, though the authorities think he is really Weidel. There in the giant waiting room of Marseille, the narrator converses with the refugees, listening to their stories over pizza and wine, while also gradually piecing together the story of Weidel, whose manuscript has shattered the narrator’s “deathly boredom,” bringing him to a deeper awareness of the transitory world the refugees inhabit as they wait and wait for that most precious of possessions: transit papers.
One can also listen to our discussion of Phoenix, which begins around the 38:50 mark: