Baltasar Kormakur Sets Series and Film Based on Icelandic Epic (EXCLUSIVE)

Baltasar Kormakur to Direct Film, Series
Lilja Jóns

Baltasar Kormakur is set to co-write and direct a feature film and a miniseries based on “Independent People,” the epic 1934 novel penned by Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, a leading light of 20th century Icelandic literature.

The project will lens in Iceland with local actors and crew, and all dialogue will be in Icelandic. Kormakur, the director of “Trapped” and “Everest,” said “Independent People” will mark Iceland’s most extensive and ambitious TV and film production to date.

Kormakur will be producing both the film and the six to eight part miniseries via his banner RVK Studios. Iceland National Broadcasting Service (RUV) will co-develop and co-produce with RVK.

On top of directing, Kormakur will serve as head writer for the show and will collaborate with other scribes. The feature film, meanwhile, will be based on the first two episodes and will be theatrically released.

Set in early 20th century Iceland, “Independent People” depicts a harsh battle of wills between Bjartur of Summerhouses, an ordinary sheep farmer, and his spirited daughter Asta who wants to live unbeholden to him.

“Independent People” became a manifesto for Icelanders who struggled to break free from century-long Danish domination, which they achieved in 1944. Kormakur said the struggle of “Independent People’s” protagonist can easily be applied to the struggle of other small nations of the world and individuals all around the world breaking free from oppressive regimes.

“To make a film from Iceland’s most famous book has been a dream of mine for a long time. This story of hardship, stubbornness and broken dreams is universal and speaks to all people, not only Icelanders,” said Kormakur, who will next direct “Adrift,” a true story of survival at sea starring Shailene Woodley.

“What makes this monumental production even more interesting is that every Icelander will have an opinion on the final product, that’s how much this story means to us. It’s great that RUV is increasing it’s involvement in co-production of written drama and thus elevating Icelandic productions even higher,” added Kormakur.

RVK and RUV previously collaborated on the first season of Kormakur’s TV series “Trapped,” the crime drama that broke all rating records in Iceland and was a hit abroad, especially on the BBC in the U.K. “Trapped” traveled to more foreign markets than any previous Icelandic drama. Season 2 will start production later this year with a release planned for 2018.

“RUV has increased its participation in scripted Icelandic drama. Recent Icelandic series have been extremely popular locally and internationally. We are extremely proud to be a part of this ambitious project with Kormakur and RVK Studios,” said Magnus Geir Thordarson, director general of RUV.

Kormakur is also prepping “Katla,” a supernatural thriller drama series centering on the famous volcano of the same name in southern Iceland. Like “Independent People,” “Katla” will shoot at Kormakur’s planned film studio, which will be part of a 40,000-square-meter media center located outside Reykjavik.

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