First Hand Launches

    • Industry
    • November 20, 2017
    • By Geoffrey Macnab

    First Hand Films has arrived at IDFA ready to launch an epic Hitler documentary (The Hitler Chronicles), a film about breasts (The Boob Show) and a new project about ‘80s Norwegian pop sensation A-Ha (A-Ha The Film).

    The Hitler Chronicles, directed by Hermann Pölking-Eiken and produced by Thorsten Pollfuß for Epoche Media Production, “relates the life of Adolf Hitler as it interacts with and responds to Austrian and German society as well as the national and international political trends and events during the first half of the twentieth century.” Company CEO Esther van Messel bills the archive-driven project as “an incredible piece of research. More than 30% of this has never been seen before.”

    “We are just launching it now. We haven’t signed any contracts yet. No rights have been given away yet,” Van Messel says. There are several different versions of the project – a seven-and-a-half-hour festival version, a three-hour theatrical version and TV mini-series versions in 4 or 13 parts. First Hand Films is launching the film here in Amsterdam and will start taking concrete offers after IDFA.

    In complete contrast to The Hitler Chronicles is Allah In Europe, Jan Leyers’ new 8 x 42 min documentary series about the future of Islam in Europe.


    The Boob Show, formerly known as The Weight of Breasts, sees Swiss-based American director Kristin Vermilyea confronting breast reduction surgery – and asking what big breasts mean and why people are so obsessed with their bodies. Van Messel is one of the producers of the film, now close to completion and supported by Swiss TV and ARTE.

    A-Ha The Film will tell the inside story of the Norwegian band who achieved their childhood dreams but then suffered a backlash. It is being produced by Motlys. The directors are Thomas Robsahm and Aslaug Holm.

    First Hand also has several titles in official selection, among them Laura Bari’s harrowing competition entry Primas, about two teenage girls who suffered horrific sexual abuse, and Mid-Length Competition entry See You Tomorrow, God Willing!, a lighter doc about seventeen elderly nuns roaming the shadowy halls of their convent. “It’s not so [much] about nuns and a monastery and God. It looks a little bit like when you come to the First Hand Films office and there is a bunch of women bickering and making jokes,” Van Messel quips. “When you watch Primas, you cry and you get very emotional. When you watch See You Tomorrow, you just laugh.”


    Another First Hand project is Cucina Povera, a new documentary from Anemon Production in Greece about the much-vaunted Mediterranean diet, which explains that this is a “diet of poverty” and comes from “the fact they just didn’t have better food.”

    On the Swiss theatrical distribution side, First Hand is to release Cern and the Sense of Beauty, about attempts to bring scientists together with artists at the research centre where the Large Hadron Collider is housed. The company has also recently released Laura Poitras’ Julian Assange doc, Risk.


    • Laura Poitras
    • 2016
    • 92 min

      Laura Poitras’s revealing portrait of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange details the degeneration of idealism into megalomania. 

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