SHOWCASE: ZDF Studios Brings Out Broad, Appeal-Packed Slate

Oct 5th, 2022

This summer, a new president and CEO took the mantle at ZDF Studios. Dr. Markus Schäfer, a former CEO of All3Media Deutschland, is now heading up the storied German company, which arrives at MIPCOM with a packed slate across drama, kids, factual and entertainment.

“Our diverse new slate for MIPCOM features a range of ambitious and high-caliber shows,” says Schäfer. “We are proud to be working with some of the world’s most gifted producers, alongside our own network of production companies, and are always open to meeting new international creative talents. We are looking forward to taking our new slate out at MIPCOM.”

From the ZDF Studios Drama catalog, Boundless—Magellan’s and Elcano’s Journey to the Edge of the Earth features an epic adventure, following the quest of Juan Sebastián Elcano and Ferdinand Magellan around the world after they set sail from Spain 500 years ago. Simon West (Lara Croft: Tomb RaiderBlack Hawk Down) directs, and the cast boasts Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld) and Álvaro Morte (Money Heist). The event series features high production values and is shot in locales such as the Dominican Republic, Basque Country, Madrid and Seville.

Emmy Award winning-showrunner Frank Doelger (Game of Thrones) is behind The Swarm, based on Frank Schätzing’s international bestseller of the same name. The story follows as a group of scientists come together believing that there is an intelligent life force dwelling in the deep Arctic Ocean, capable of manipulating its environment, the ocean and everything that resides in it. They undertake a daring mission, manning a cutting-edge, technologically-engineered vessel to track it and go deep into the Arctic Ocean in search of this unknown menace. ZDF Studios and Beta Film are jointly distributing The Swarm.

The award-winning Irish actress Charlene McKenna (BloodlandsPeaky BlindersVienna Blood) stars in the drama Clean Sweep. She plays Shelly Mohan, a housewife and mother of three married to a Garda detective (Barry Ward; Jimmy’s HallBlood Cells), who kills her former partner in crime when he threatens to expose her dark past. Inspired by actual events, it tells a compelling and relentless story of mothering and the price paid for long-buried sins.

In the unscripted arena, Surviving Hothouse Earth shines a light on the topic of global warming. The three-part doc investigates Earth’s distant past to understand its present and unravel its future, with each episode covering a separate issue: oceans, land and civilization. Cinematic shots of nature, landscapes and urban life are combined with interviews with international experts.

Sweeping aerial views are front and center in Africa from Above, which promises a fresh perspective of the continent. The ten-part series covers natural wonders and diverse habitats, provides a look at indigenous wild animals and celebrates the people who live and work in various countries. ZDF Studios will hold a screening of this impressive series at MIPCOM on Monday, October 17, from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the Auditorium A of the Palais des Festivals, followed by a Q&A with the experts involved in this production: Ralf Rückauer (VP Unscripted at ZDF Studios), Bo Stehmeier (CEO of Off the Fence), Friederike Haedecke (deputy head of department for History + Society at ZDF), Marcus Arthur (CEO of UKTV and president of BBC Studios U.K. and Ireland) and Wolfgang Bergmann (managing director of ARTE Germany and coordinator of ARTE for ZDF).

Taking a look back in history, War Gamers spotlights the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS or the Wrens). It tells the stories of how an all-female team was recruited to unpick how German U-boats were sinking so many British and American ships and how they even devised tactics to defeat them.

ZDF Studios recently added to its catalog the format Quiz Hunt. It sees players compete in a life-sized board game where, in order to move forward, the two contestants—one being the winner from the previous round—have to answer questions correctly. The show has already proven to be a hit on ServusTV, where it occupies a 5 p.m. slot and has achieved average ratings of 7.9 percent this year.

For the youngest set of viewers, ZDF Studios is presenting Grisù, about a little dragon who dreams of becoming a firefighter. From Mondo TV and Toon2Tango, the show’s animated protagonist is able to draw on his heroic spirit and never gives up. 

Another highlight from the Junior slate, Törtle centers on a tortoise who grew up in a pet shop, though he is neither a pet nor a wild animal. In every episode, Törtle gets caught up in the culture clash between humans and animals but always emerges as the unexpected hero.

In Mimo & Leva—Back to the Bronze Age, two kids with different paths in life (and other plans from what those predetermined paths are!) experience exciting adventures, overcome outdated traditions and forge their own futures. The animated series takes young viewers back in history.

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