Lindholm: Scribe brings reality to nail-biting drama

10 Directors to Watch 2013: Tobias Lindholm

With his two feature films, the 2010 prison drama “R” and the recent thriller “A Hijacking,” Tobias Lindholm has exhibited a knack for tense storytelling and palpably gritty realism.

After taking a stab as a novelist, Lindholm entered Denmark’s national film school and focused on screenwriting in order to master movie structure. “American films are so well built, and I remember at one point I decided to only watch documentaries, to understand the logic of reality, instead of the logic of the editing room.” He fondly recalls the presidential campaign doc “The War Room”: “I remember thinking if I can ever write a film as clear as this, that would be the best. Reality is so precise.”

Such close attention to veracity has infused his work: For “R,” he cast real-life inmates and guards; “A Hijacking” features an actual hostage negotiator and sailors who had experienced a hijacking just a year before. “It’s all about working with the actors,” he says. “And the best way to get true feelings from them is to surround them with these professionals, so it will seem as real as possible.”

Lindholm’s frequent collaborator Thomas Vinterberg, with whom he wrote “The Hunt,” praises the writer-director’s “sympathy, clarity, coolness, courage and ambition,” as well as his “ultra-precise portraits of human beings (and) beautiful combination of real life and grand drama.”

For now, Lindholm is content to continue making such genuine dramas. “I’m drawn to these tragedies of the world I live in,” he says. “I don’t feel like I’m smart enough to do comedy.”

Next up, he plans to complete his “trilogy” about “men in small places” with a movie about the war in Afghanistan, likely to shoot in summer 2014. (He just had twins.)

Homebase: Copenhagen
Inspired by: “The 1970s in the U.S. was one of the most interesting periods in film history,” he says, also citing the Dardennes, Dogma 95, Ingmar Bergman and “United 93,” which he calls “a naturalistic masterpiece.”
Rep: Agents: Jerome Duboz, Robert Newman (WME)