Colonia is a 2015 historical romantic thriller film directed by Oscar-winner Florian Gallenberger, produced by Benjamin Herrmann, written by Torsten Wenzel and Gallenberger, and starring Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl, and Michael Nyqvist. The film is set against the backdrop of the Chilean military coup and the real “Colonia Dignidad”, a notorious cult in the South of Chile, led by German lay preacher Paul Schäfer. The film is an international co-production of companies in Germany, Luxembourg, and France.
Principal photography began on 2 October 2014 in Luxembourg; filming also took place in Germany and Argentina. It was shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
In 1973, a young couple become entangled in a Chilean military coup at a time when there is much protest on the streets against General Augusto Pinochet. When Daniel is abducted by Pinochet’s secret police DINA, Lena tries to find and save her boyfriend. She tracks him to a sealed-off organization called “Colonia Dignidad”, which presents itself as a charitable mission run by a lay preacher, Paul Schäfer. Lena joins the organization to rescue her boyfriend, only to learn it is a cult from which no one has ever escaped. She later finds Daniel, who acts disabled. Daniel discovers the organization is also an illegal operations center for DINA. Lena and Daniel attempt to escape from Colonia Dignidad along with Ursel, a pregnant nurse. Ursel gets killed and both Lena and Daniel escape to German embassy. Staff from the embassy betray them but the lovers exit the country via a plane with incriminating photographic evidence against Colonia Dignidad.
On 29 September 2014, it was announced that Emma Watson and Daniel Brühl would star as a couple in the upcoming film which is based on a true story, directed by Florian Gallenberger who co-wrote the script with Torsten Wenzel. Benjamin Herrmann would be producing the film through Majestic Filmproduktion, and Nicolas Steil would co-produce through Iris Productions. Kolja Brandt would be director of photography, and Hansjörg Weißbrich would be the film editor. On 27 October, Michael Nyqvist joined the film to star as Paul Schäfer.