Afghan-German filmmaker Burhan Qurbani
, director of hard-hitting social drama “We Are Young. We Are Strong,” is adapting Alfred Döblin
’s 1929 novel “Berlin Alexanderplatz
,” one of Germany’s most renowned literary works of the past century. It was adapted twice previously, most famously by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
as a 1980 miniseries that remains an acclaimed and beloved classic. Departing from the book’s 1920s setting, Qurbani’s story takes place in the African refugee community of present-day Berlin. He spoke to Variety about the challenges of adapting a masterpiece, the refugee crisis and being haunted by Fassbinder.
How did the project come about?
Some four years ago I started working on the idea to adapt the novel. And then the refugee crisis came upon us. Of course there are many, many tragic, terrible, disturbing, wonderful and heart-warming original stories that refugees have to tell and those should be told. I chose a