Cannes-bound ‘Dina’ hopes for chance of luck

Ship snafu, F-16 flyovers, foot-and-mouth hamper shoot

COPENHAGEN — Should “I Am Dina” be subtitled “I Love Trouble”? The principal photography for the pic has started under Ole Bornedal’s direction, but the producers are facing problems they never read about in their “Manual for Feature Film Producers.”

The $10.6 million, English-language “Dina” is shooting in Norway, with Oscar-winning producer Per Holst (“Pelle the Conqueror”), of Nordisk Film, and his Norwegian colleague, Axel Helgeland, of Northern Lights, sheperding the production. But the vets have been confronted with bad luck, including:

  • A former Caribbean cruiser chartered to accommodate cast and crew at the location 130 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle ran aground on the voyage from Malta and was four days late.

  • A secret NATO maneuver was suddenly launched in the area, including the frequent passage of low-flying F-16 jet fighters, adding an unexpected modern touch to the period drama.

  • A herd of cattle signed for the opening scenes was not admitted access to the location because of the transport restrictions since the outbreak of mouth-and-foot disease. And locals demanded special measures to disinfect French actor Gerard Depardieu, whose assignment requires several trips between foot-and-mouth disease-stricken France and unaffected (as of yet) Norway.

“I am myself a farmer, so I fully understand why they are anxious. I am taking all possible precautions,” explains Depardieu, who was full of praise for Norwegian author Herbjorg Wassmo’s 1989 novel and the director’s choice of Swedish actress Maria Bonnevie for the title role.”It might be an 18th century story, but don’t think of it as a period piece,” director Bornedal says. “This is ‘Gone With the Wind’ meets ‘Pulp Fiction’ — a very sensual drama of a wild woman.”

The most expensive feature ever produced in Scandinavia, “I Am Dina” portrays a woman whose life has been marked by a traumatic event during her childhood when she inadvertently caused the death of her mother. The novel, published in 20 countries, was adapted for the screen by Bornedal and Swedish writer-director Jonas Cornell.

With Denmark’s Nordisk Film as the main financier, Northern Lights — a Nordisk subsidiary — has packaged the film with, among others, Sweden’s Felicia Film, Germany’s Gemini Film and Apollo Media, and France’s Mandarin Film, with Scandinavian pubcasters NRK, SVT and TV2/Danmark also aboard.

Pic is slated to be released simultaneously in Norway, Sweden and Denmark in March 2002 through Nordisk Film-Egmont Entertainment. Already scheduled for Germany and France, pic’s international sales outfit, TF1 Intl., will launch the film at the upcoming Cannes market.

With its timetables in place, the pic, despite the early run of bad luck, still figures to make its June 22 wrap.

After its winter locations wrap, the production moves to Norsk Film Studios at Jar and the Airport Studios at Fornebu, both outside Oslo. Exteriors in the capital include the Akershus Fortress for an execution scene, pending the defense minister’s permission, since it takes place close to a national war memorial.

With just a bit of luck, the F-16s won’t be making a flyover.

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