There are 11 principal German POW characters in Collective Development Incorporated’s upcoming WWII drama, ‘Silent Night In Algona’ (Inspired by Actual Events).
And when the screenwriter, DJ Perry, and director, Anthony Hornus started their international casting search for strong, bilingual (German-English speaking) actors a year ago, authenticity – not ‘Nazis out of Central Casting’ – was the top priority.
The story takes place in 1944 Algona, Iowa, where a German POW camp was thrust upon the small town. Not all citizens were receptive to the Army’s mandate.
These men were the enemy. Members of Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich.
But while many were indeed maniacal Waffen-SS, many others were conscripts into the Wehrmacht, regular army. Farmers, bakers, butchers, teachers, architects. Men from all walks of life drafted into terrible circumstances. Just like American GIs.
German actors Bejo Dohmen and Benjamin Schnau, both now living and working in LA, were two of the first ‘POWs’ to enthusiastically sign on to the project.
Mr. Dohmen, born, raised and trained in Cologne, built a strong 10-year career in Germany working in film, TV, theater, commercials, voice over and music videos. His move to LA a few years ago has earned him critical acclaim and a Best Supporting Actor award at the Global Film Festival for the short film, Kommando 1944.
Mr. Schnau, also a cast member in Kommando 1944, was born in East Germany and moved with his family to Frankfurt after the Berlin wall came down. In addition to being a multi award-winning actor, Mr. Schnau is a professionally trained boxer, a singer-songwriter, author and trained as an actor in London before moving to Hollywood.
Both men – Mr. Dohmen as ‘Klaus’ and Mr. Schnau as ‘Jorg’ – are conflicted characters. But for very different reasons.
“Silent Night In Algona’ is such an important film, with a powerful message,” enthused Mr. Dohmen. “I could feel Klaus’ pain for what he was forced to see and do under the Nazi regime. His personal search for forgiveness as a decent human being is the biggest battle he’s ever been in.”
For Mr. Schnau, who has played opposite Gary Oldman in ‘Mank’ and other well-known actors, the character ‘Jorg’ and his followers infest the POW camp with the twisted ideology of a ‘Master Race’ through genocide.
Any POW who ‘defies’ Hitler and the Reich becomes a traitor in the ranks and must be ‘dealt with.’
Said Mr. Schnau, “I’m very happy for this opportunity and the message the film carries with it. Jorg is a complex and controversial character because he’s an ideologue. A Nazi true believe. I enjoy characters with conflict.”
‘Silent Night In Algona’ films in Algona, Iowa, in late fall.
Collective Development inc.