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The opening film of the 2017 Berlinale has been revealed.

Etienne Comar’s directorial debut Django will open the festival, and participate in the official competition of the Berlinale.

The French film revolves around Django Reinhardt, the famous guitarist and composer, and his flight from German-occupied Paris in 1943. Within moments, this superb guitarist was able to reach people’s hearts with his instrument. Yet as Sinti, his family was harassed and hounded by the Nazis.

“Django Reinhardt was one of the most brilliant pioneers of European jazz and the father of Gypsy Swing. Django grippingly portrays one chapter in the musician’s eventful life and is a poignant tale of survival. Constant danger, flight and the atrocities committed against his family could not make him stop playing,” says Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick.

Director Etienne Comar has already made a name for himself as a screenwriter and producer – Of Gods and Men, Haute Cuisine, My King – and co-producer – The Women on the 6th Floor, Timbuktu.

For Django, Comar’s first work as a director, he cast actor Reda Kateb (Far from Men) in the title role. Starring alongside him are Cécile de France (The Kid with a Bike), as well as Alex Brendemühl and Ulrich Brandhoff.

The screenplay is written by Etienne Comar and Alexis Salatko. Django Reinhardt’s music was re-recorded for the film by the famous Dutch jazz band Rosenberg Trio.

The 2017 Berlin Film Festival takes place from February 9th to 19th.

We’ll be covering the Berlinale in its entirety, so keep it THN for more news over the next couple of weeks.