Danish-German company Adomeit Film is set to explore uncharted territory with what could be the world’s first romantic comedy set in Afghanistan.
Shahrbanoo Sadat’s “Kabul Jan,” the third part in a planned pentalogy based on co-writer Anwar Hashimi’s autobiographical work, follows a young camera operator who falls in love with a married TV reporter twice her age.
Set in the biggest private TV station in Kabul, the story explores the forbidden romance while also examining the often dangerous work of reporters in the bustling newsroom along with the absurdities of modern-day life in the city.
“It’s also a tribute to all the journalists in Afghanistan,” says producer Katja Adomeit, noting the alarming number of reporters who have been killed in the country in recent months.
The project is among the titles selected this year for the International Film Festival Rotterdam’s CineMart co-production market and one of a number of projects in the works at the producer’s Copenhagen-based Adomeit Film.
The company is producing two projects by Danish helmer and cinematographer Illum Jacobi: “Fall of Man,” an Arctic-set neo-Western, and “Trance Mountain,” a supernatural thriller set to star Amanda Collin (“Raised by Wolves”) about adventurous and rebellious souls who refuse the journey into the hereafter.
Adomeit also produced Jacobi’s feature debut, “The Trouble with Nature,” a historical drama that unspooled in Rotterdam’s Bright Futures section last year.
With two other offices in Berlin and Lübeck, Adomeit Film has access to funding in both Denmark and Germany and has already secured support for “Kabul Jan” from Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund (HBF) as well as from regional German funder Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH).
The HBF is “always the first one to step in and give us the first chunk of money,” Adomeit notes. “That helps a lot because it can be used for script and development.”
Support from the FFHSH has also resulted in a strong connection to Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, Adomeit says, adding that interior scenes for “Kabul Jan” will shoot in the northern German region.
Adomeit is eager to find partners for the €2 million ($2.4 million) project and is also looking at possible locations or other alternatives for Kabul. While the film will likely include some footage filmed in Kabul, shooting in the war-ravaged city, particularly with an international crew, remains out of the question.
Sadat shot her previous films, the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight winner “Wolves and Sheep” and “The Orphanage,” in Tajikistan due to their more rural settings, but “Kabul Jan” necessitates a more expansive location that can double for the Afghan capital.
Adomeit is also entertaining the idea of a virtual set as a possible solution. She is ideally looking for a co-production partner in a third country “who can really be creatively and productionally involved, either with scenes that can be shot in that country and look like Kabul or do a virtual production.”
The film’s cast will likely include a mix of Afghani actors who live in Germany as well as from Afghanistan. Adomeit points out that the film’s subject matter makes it very difficult for actresses who live in Afghanistan due to the country’s strict religious and cultural mores.
While making a comedy about war-torn Afghanistan may seem “morally wrong,” it is the absurdity of everyday life in the country, the rules people must follow, the security checkpoints, that Sadat sees as “comedic, and that’s a big part of it as well,” Adomeit explains.
“Kabul Jan” will be the most challenging film she and Sadat have done in terms of targeting a wider audience, she says. While it’s still part of an arthouse film pentalogy, the goal is to cross over more into entertainment.
It’s something she is also looking to do with her other projects, such as “The Last Mermaid,” a lesbian take on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic “The Little Mermaid.”
Written and directed by Daniel Borgman, “The Last Mermaid” is a family film that follows a young mermaid, the last of her kind, as she tries to save the world from an evil witch while falling in love with a teenage girl in Copenhagen.
Borgman is also developing “Breathe,” a mystery-thriller about a young freediving champion investigating her mother’s apparent suicide attempt, which Adomeit is likewise producing.