GOTEBORG, Sweden– “Happy People,” the sophomore project of Samanou A. Sahlstrom, whose debut “In Your Arms” won Goteborg’s jury prize and Dragon nod for best film, was one of the highlights of Goteborg’s Nordic Film Lab.
Weaving mystery and family drama, “Happy People” centers around a Danish couple living abroad in a idyllic small resort with their 10-year old son. But one day, the boy mysteriously disappears and his clothes are found on the deserted beach. The film then depicts how each parent is coping with the grief of losing their only child and cultivating the hope that he might reappear, and how that tragedy has affected their relationship. Sahlstrom also said “Happy People” will have procedural elements as audiences will follow the investigation surrounding the boy’s disappearance in the small village. Danish shingle Meta Film is developing the project.
Johannes Nyholm’s “Koko-Di Koko-Da,” a tragicomic family drama dealing with a similar issue as “Happy People” but much differently, was also a standout at the Nordic Film Lab. Nyholm is best known for his short “Las Palmas” and the animated feature The Tale of Little Puppetboy.”
Organized by Nordic Film Market topper Cecilia Edstrom, the Work-in-Progress session, which didn’t seem as packed as last year, nevertheless managed to attract a large panel of international sales execs from TrustNordisk, LevelK, Yellow Affair, Versatile, Wild Bunch and Memento, as well as European distributors and festival programmers such as Frederic Boyer, artistic director of Les Arcs film fest and Tribeca.
The session included a few Nordic Twilight titles, notably Bo Mikkelsen’s (“Tabu”) “What We Become” about a village plagued by a deadly virus, and Ali Abbasi’s chilling “Shelley” about a surrogate mother whose pregnancy unleashes an evil force. Both pics have been acquired by Paris-based Indie Sales. “Shelley” is produced by Profile Pictures (“When Animals Dream”).
Although not a pure genre film, “White People,” from Lisa Aschan, also sparked attendees’ curiosity. Produced by Garage Films, “White People” marks Aschan’s follow-up to “She Monkeys.”
TrustNordisk presented the first clips of “The Model,” Mads Matthiesen’s Paris-based drama set in the fashion industry. The well-polished film follows a young model who develops a deadly obsession with a photographer. It’s produced by Meta Film.
Other notable projects pitched included “Sparrows,” a coming-of-age tale directed by Runar Runarsson (“2 Birds,” “Vulcano”) and Aasne Vaa Greibrokk’s (“Short of Breath”) debut feature “All That Beauty.”
Produced by Mikkel Jersin,”Sparrows” follows the journey of a 16-year old boy who has been living with his mother in Reykjavik and is forced to go live with his father in a remote village where he hasn’t been since he was a child.
“All That Beauty,” produced by Yngve Saether and Hans-Jorgen Osnes, depicts the chaotic, yet passionate relationship of two comittment-phobic people through decades.