Cannes favorite and Oscar nominee Tim Roth is teaming with Succession star Hiam Abbass for Come Together, about a terrorist whose life is saved by a Syrian refugee, from South African writer/director Oliver Schmitz.
Celsius Entertainment has landed world sales rights — excluding Germany, Austria, Australia and New Zealand — and is launching sales in the Marche du Film. The film will shoot in 2023.
A German/New Zealand co-production, Come Together centers on Charlie (Roth), a white racist who crashes his car on the way to carrying out a terrorist act, waking up in hospital unable to remember anything about his life (including his racism and his terrorism plans). While recovering, he befriends Alma (Abbass), a Syrian refugee and former doctor, who saved Charlie’s life at the scene, and they become friends. But when his history is revealed, she must decide if he really is a different person.
The poignant and high-concept film is being produced by Oliver Stoltz, who backed Schmitz’s Life, Above All, which bowed in the Un Certain Regard sidebar in 2010 and would go on to win several awards and become South Africa’s Oscar submission. Catherine Fitzgerald (Bellbird, The Orator) from Blueskin Films in New Zealand is co-producer.
“A few years ago (after the big wave of Syrian refugees coming to Germany) I read a tiny article in a local paper about a right-wing politician who crashed his car. The first people on the scene, who helped him, were Syrian refugees. This made a big impact on me and this idea stayed with me,” said Schmitz, who also directed 2016 Apartheid drama Shepherds and Butchers.
“We tend to help. It’s a very human condition, thankfully. Would we help to the same degree if we knew the other person hated you? I knew there was a meaningful story in this and a few years later, in discussion with Tim Roth, I saw a path for the story and sat down to write it, setting it in New Zealand – a society that is generally inclusive and with good values, so that it is all the more shocking when two worlds completely collide, a white racist who assumes this country is his and a recent immigrant, a Syrian doctor who saves his life and helps him, oblivious to his politics. It is strangely a story of hope and not of despair. I believe in this. It is possible.”
Alongside his film work, Stoltz is also a hugely successful German TV director, with credits including the award-winning comedy series Türkisch Für Anfänger and Doctor’s Diary, both of which have won the best series honor at the German Television Awards and the German Comedy Awards, as well as a Grimme Prize.
Added Celsius CEO Thierry Wase-Bailey: “We’re very pleased to be working with our great friend Oliver Schmitz on this very special film which tackles major social issues in an original manner.”
A Croisette regular, Roth was recently seen in Michel Franco’s Sundown and Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island and has Resurrection alongside Rebecca Hall coming up. Perhaps best known on television for playing Marcia Roy in Succession, Abbass recently appeared in Blade Runner 2049 and Gaza mon amour. She will soon be seen in David Bruckner’s Hellraiser reboot.