“It’s crazy what we’ve achieved in such a short time even with the pandemic coming in between,” says Jamila Wenske who took over the running of the Berlin-based production company Achtung Panda! Media from Helge Albers in summer 2019.
In less than five years she has been involved in two films invited to Cannes, one premiering in San Sebástian, another at the Max Ophüls Filmpreis Festival in Saarbrücken, and she will now have her latest production - Asli Özarslan’s ELBOW (ELLBOGEN) – celebrating its world world premiere in the Generation 14plus competition during this year’s Berlinale.
Jamila, who studied Film Production at the film school in Babelsberg at the same time as such filmmakers as Robert Thalheim and Maja Classen, had already made a name for herself in the German and international film landscape before she took over the reins at Achtung Panda!, having also participated in such training programmes as the Franco-German Masterclass L’Atelier, ACE, EAVE PUENTES and the SHIFT Female Leadership Programme.As the joint owner and shareholder with Sol Bondy of One Two Films for 10 years, she had been involved in films as diverse as Juho Kuosmanen’s THE HAPPIEST DAY IN THE LIFE OF OLLI MÄKI, Isabel Coixet´s THE BOOKSHOP and Vadim Perelman’s PERSIAN LESSONS.
Prior to Jamila arriving at Achtung Panda!, the company had focused since its founding in 2015 on producing documentaries, but she expanded the outfit’s output to include the co-production of European arthouse fiction. This consequently saw her working again with the OLLI MÄKI producer Aamu Film on Kuosmanen’s next feature project COMPARTMENT NO.6 which won the Jury Grand Prix in Cannes in 2021, as well as Birgit Möller’s romantic dramedy FRANKY FIVE STAR starring Lena Urzendowsky and THE WOODCUTTER STORY by Mikko Myllylahti, which premiered in the Semaine de la Critique in Cannes in 2022. Co-production has also been the order of the day for her latest German project: Aslı Özarslan’s ELBOW was made with French and Turkish partners.
Looking back at the output for these first five years, Jamila notes that there isn’t any common thematic thread to the films. “What’s more important for me is that I want to focus on making films by, with and about women and these can be either documentaries or fiction films. If I make a film with LBTQIA subject matter, I would only want to do this with someone from that community,” she explains. “And when I am going to work with male directors, I want to make sure that they have a feminist perspective – and that certainly was the case with Juho and Javier Marco [director of the 2021 co-production JOSEFINA].”
Although she enjoys reading the works of such authors as Philip K. Dick and Stanislaw Lem, science fiction is one genre that she can’t imagine considering.
“I am not into technical gimmicks, however, it would be fun to make a near future drama,” Jamila says. “As far the thriller genre, for example, is concerned, I would only consider that if it is addressing socially relevant issues.”
In the meantime, Achtung Panda! has a diverse bag of projects lined up for the next two years.
Jamila serves as a co-producer on Vasilis Kekatos’ debut feature OUR WILDEST DAYS which she describes as “the Greek answer to AMERICAN HONEY”, Lucia Garibaldi´s A BRIGHT FUTURE, whose first feature LOS TIBURONES was awarded at Sundance 2019 and she is currently working with writer-director Lola Randl on the social mystery drama DAS ANGSTTIER, based on Randl’s eponymous 2022 novel, set to shoot in 2025.
Moreover, she will partner with Oma Inge Film, the co-producer of Nora Fingscheidt’s breakout film SYSTEM CRASHER, on her first foray into TV series with the tragicomic romantic drama TAMIM which should be going into production at the end of 2024.
“The series will be shot in German and Arabic and centers on a young engineer with Syrian roots who has been living in Germany for the past 10 years. He has built a new life, and now he hopes to find true love“, Jamila explains.