‘Spencer’ Producer Komplizen, Studiocanal Kick Off Production on ‘A Better Place,’ German Series Set in a City With No Prisons (EXCLUSIVE)

Production has kicked off on “A Better Place,” which is produced by Komplizen Serien and Studiocanal Series in Germany.

Komplizen Serien, headed by David Keitsch, is the TV arm of leading movie production company Komplizen Film, whose credits include “Spencer,” for which Kristen Stewart was Oscar-nominated, and “Toni Erdmann,” which was Oscar-nominated in the foreign language film category.

“A Better Place” is the first German TV show to be produced by Studiocanal Series, the German TV arm of the French production powerhouse. Studiocanal Series is headed by Nicolas Loock.

The series will be shown on German streaming platform ARD Mediathek and broadcast channel Das Erste at the end of 2024. Studiocanal is handling international distribution.

It is shooting in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany from August to December. Alexander Lindh (“Druck,” “MaPa”) is the showrunner. Anne Zohra Berrached (“24 Weeks,” “The World Will Be a Different Place”) and Konstantin Bock (the editor on Oscar-nominated “Capernaum”) are directing.

The show poses the question: What if we were able to create a world without prisons?

It is set in a fictional city, where the mayor, Amir Kaan, and scientist Petra Schach have started a revolutionary social experiment: the local prison is to be closed, and the inmates are to be reintegrated into society. Instead of punishment, they are given a place to work, housing, therapy and the obligation to deal with their crimes. A social utopia for some, but a shock for the victims of crime.

“A Better Place,” a working title, follows events as this experiment unfolds across eight episodes of 45 minutes each. It portrays the experiences of the offenders, who are confronted with prejudice and cope with setbacks after returning to the city. The show throws up numerous issues: What is it like for those who are trying to rehabilitate the prisoners? What is it like for the inhabitants of the city, and the victims and their families, torn between the desire to forgive and the need for justice?

Keitsch commented: “‘A Better Place’ tackles a socially relevant and certainly polarizing topic — a world without prisons and a different idea of justice and a critical examination of our penal system.”

The ensemble cast includes Maria Hofstätter, Steven Sowah, Katharina Schüttler, Johannes Kienast, Sandra Borgmann, Richard Sammel, Ulrich Brandhoff, Alev Irmak, Youness Aabbaz, Aysima Ergün, Cynthia Micas and Constantin von Jascheroff.

“A Better Place” is produced by Keitsch, Jonas Dornbach and Janine Jackowski for Komplizen Serien; Loock and Kalle Friz for Studiocanal Series; Alexander Glehr and Johanna Scherz for Film AG; and the Post Republic. The coproducers are WDR and ARD Degeto for ARD, Canal+ in France and Canal+ in Austria.

The series was developed by Lindh and Laurent Mercier (“Eden,” “The Beast of Bayonne”). The writers include Karin Kaçi, Bahar Bektas, Nora Gantenbrink, Daniel Hendler, Emanuel Tessema, Maryam Zaree and Svenja Viola Bungarten.

Caren Toennissen and Frank Tönsmann (both WDR) and Christoph Pellander (ARD Degeto) are the editors. At Canal+ in France Brice Mondoloni is in charge of the project, and at Canal+ in Austria it is Philipp Boechheimer.

“A Better Place” is supported by the German Motion Picture Fund (BKM), the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Creative Europe MEDIA, and FISA+.

Keitsch added: “This package has convinced not only WDR and ARD Degeto but also international partners such as Canal+ and Studiocanal, and with the help of both European and German project funding, also represents a European model for financing major serial narratives. ‘A Better Place’ thus offers a great opportunity for all parties involved, for a serial narrative that manages to combine relevance and entertainment as well as to strengthen independent, European production and stories.”

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