The film’s working title, 3096, is taken from the number of days Natascha Kampusch was held captive by Wolfgang Priklopil
The ordeal of an Austrian woman who was kept locked in a cellar for eight years is to be turned into a feature film involving members of the team who produced a hit biopic about Hitler’s last days in his bunker.
The €6m (£4.9m) film about Natascha Kampusch has the working title 3096 after the number of days she was held hostage by her kidnapper, Wolfgang Priklopil, before escaping in 2006. The production crew aim to capture her claustrophobic nightmare by recreating in the studio an exact replica of her 2m x 3m cell.
The screenplay was drafted by Bernd Eichinger, the main force behind the 2007 hit film Downfall about Hitler’s last days. Eichinger based his screenplay on several intense discussions with Kampusch in the months before his death in January 2011.
Cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, who has collaborated with directors such as Werner Fassbinder, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, agreed to come out of retirement to work on 3096, at the request of its director, his wife Sherry Hormann.
The young Natascha will be played by the 10-year-old Londoner Amelia Pidgeon, while her older self will be portrayed by 29-year-old Antonia Campbell-Hughes from Ireland, who is best known for her role in Jane Campion’s Keats film, Bright Star. Danish actor Thule Lindhardt will play Priklopil.
The attempt to recreate Kampusch’s cramped confinement has led inevitably to comparisons with Downfall, whose success many critics put down to the effective way in which it managed to conjure the closed space and oppressive atmosphere of the Nazi leader’s bunker as Russian troops closed in on Berlin.
Filming of 3096 starts in Munich in May and the film is scheduled to open in cinemas around next spring. Its makers say the film will cover every aspect of the story, from Kampusch’s capture on her way to school at the age of 10 to her escape at the age of 18, and will not shy away from the topic of the sexual abuse she suffered.
Die Welt said a film was an appropriate way to retell the Kampusch story and that it had her blessing. “The suffering of Natascha Kampusch is the most oft-repeated story from the German-speaking world so far this century,” it wrote.
Martin Moszkowicz, the head of the film’s production company, the Munich-based Constantin Films, compared the Kampusch story to a Greek myth. “Essentially it’s like the story of Prometheus. Just as he shaped man out of clay, so [Kampusch's] kidnapper tried to create out of her a woman according to his own imagination and rules. But she defies him and triumphs.”