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DR Premieres Ex-Pat Drama ‘Liberty’

In Berlin for its world premiere, the series creator and director talked with Variety about their African-based drama

DR / Aske Alexander Foss

As the Berlin Film Festival continues to dedicate more time and space to growing the high-end TV market, it should come as no surprise that DR, Denmark’s famed public broadcaster which also claims to be Scandinavia’s largest international distributor, is looking to make a significant impact at the Festival.

Among the projects and finished series that DR has brought to this year’s Berlinale, is Denmark’s African-based ex-pat period drama, “Liberty,” which screens in Berlinale Series.

The show is not only being distributed by DR, but was produced by the Danish public broadcaster well, in what could be considered former CEO Piv Bernth’s swan song with the state TV. She is the executive producer on the show, and saw the project to its completion though heading off to start her own production company, Apple Tree.

Based on the third book of a trilogy by Danish author Jakob Ejersbo, in which he tells stories based on those he experienced living as an ex-pat teenager in Tanzania, the series also calls upon creator Asger Leth’s own experiences spending time visiting his father every year in Haiti since he was 12 years old.

“I lived this ex-pat kid life where the parents are running around at their ex-pat parties with gin and tonics and Marvin Gaye while the kids are running around misbehaving,” Leth told Variety, “There is this complete lack of oversight.”

The series takes place in Tanzania in the late ’80s, and follows a group of European ex-patriot families and their stories as they live their lives in a culture vastly different then their own. There are stories of betrayal of principles, infidelity, greed and murder.

The multinational casting of the series proved to be one of the more difficult parts of the production.

“We had to show respect, not just go in there as Scandinavians and do everything in Danish, Swedish and English, but respect how the locals would speak to each other,” said director Michael Marcimain, who handled the difficult task of casting actors who spoke Swahili, and get them down to the shoots in South Africa, where the language is completely foreign.

When talking about their goals for Berlin, the pair were humble, yet hopeful.

“We are not market experts. We’re here because we are proud of our series and we want to show it,” explained Leth. “We are just here, proudly as parents, to present our kids to the world.”

So far things are looking good. DR commented that there had been a great deal of interest from broadcasters following Tuesday’s world premiere.

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DR / Aske Alexander Foss