Finland’s Vertigo Goes Beyond Nordic Noir at Series Mania

Refugee drama ‘Layla’ to take part in Co-Pro Pitching Session

Finland’s Vertigo is moving beyond Nordic Noir with an ambitious, six-part TV series about Europe’s migrant crisis which they’ll be presenting at Series Mania.

Based on the book by best-selling Finnish novelist Jari Tervo, “Layla” is the story of a 15-year-old Kurdish girl who travels the perilous migrant route from Turkey to northern Europe, where she hopes to be reunited with her older sister.

Vertigo’s Minna Virtanen and Sagafilm Nordic’s Kjartan Thor Thordarson will be looking for financing when they present the series at the Co-Pro Pitching Session in Lille. “Layla” will be directed by the Kurdish-born, Swedish helmer Karzan Kader.

Virtanen says she was immediately drawn to the acclaimed book, and bought the rights with an eye toward developing it into a feature film. “But as a concept, it didn’t work really well,” she says.

Following the eponymous heroine as she flees an arranged marriage in Istanbul on her wedding night, “Layla” travels from the refugee camps of Italy to the brothels of Finland, taking a panoramic view of the current refugee crisis in Europe with a narrative depth, says Virtanen, that’s particularly well-suited to a longer format. “The characters have so much substance,” she says.

Virtanen estimates that 60-70% of “Layla” will be shot outside of Finland, with much of the drama unfolding in Italy and Germany. Though the novel was published in 2011, the Finnish producer has worked with Tervo to ensure the series reflects the most recent stage of Europe’s ongoing refugee drama.

“We’re on the same page, and that’s very important,” Virtanen says of the best-selling author. “He doesn’t even want to get involved with the scriptwriting process.”

Though “Layla” exposes the networks of human traffickers profiting from Europe’s refugee crisis, and reveals the dark side of the “land of white lilies” when Layla is forced into prostitution, Virtanen says the ultimately uplifting story is “like a fairy tale.”

“This [plot] sounds very horrifying, but the storyline is still full of warmth and hope,” she adds.

Earlier this month in Cannes, Vertigo won the inaugural Coup de Coeur Award at the MipDrama Buyers Summit for “Bullets,” a female-driven political thriller about an undercover cop and an ex-terrorist. “Layla” is the latest example of the company’s drive to go beyond Nordic Noir.

“I think they are just very good storylines with very strong characters,” says Virtanen.

More Film

  • Clark Gable III

    Clark Gable's Grandson, Who Hosted 'Cheaters,' Found Dead at 30

    Clark Gable’s grandson, Clark Gable III, died on Friday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Variety confirmed with the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office. He was 30. “It’s is with an extremely heavy heart we say goodbye to my beautiful son Clark,” his mother wrote on Instagram. “He passed this morning. I will always [...]

  • You Were Never Really Here If

    Film Independent's Spirit Awards Fly the Flag for Indie Film

    As the 2018 awards season marches slowly into its final days, only a handful of honors remain undistributed after some of the most volatile and contentious campaigns in years. Front-runners have come and gone in one major category after the next, as each guild and critics group announced different winners than its predecessors, demolishing expectations [...]

  • A Quiet Place

    John Krasinski Returning to Direct 'A Quiet Place' Sequel

    John Krasinski is returning to direct the untitled sequel to Paramount’s horror hit “A Quiet Place.” Krasinski revealed the news Friday via an Instagram post that said “…time to go back. #PartII 5-15-20”; the post showed the red lights that became synonymous with the alien threats in the first movie. “A Quiet Place” starred Krasinski, Emily [...]

  • Red Carpet Guide to the Bowtie

    Five Tips to a Perfect Bow Tie on Oscar Night

    Warren Alfie Baker is always on the hunt for just the right bow tie. He’s a Hollywood stylist who helps keep such clients as Lucas Hedges, Norman Reedus and Harry Shum Jr. looking sharp. “It seems like the easiest thing to sort out, but so many mistakes can be made,” Baker tells Variety. And the [...]

  • Francois Ozon's 'The Grace Of God'

    Francois Ozon's 'By The Grace Of God' Delivers Strong B.O. Opening in France

    Rolling off its triumph at the Berlin Film Festival where it won the Silver Bear, François Ozon’s Catholic church sexual abuse drama By “The Grace Of God” had a strong theatrical bow in France where it sold nearly 50,000 tickets on 290 screens on Feb. 20, its first day out One of the best opening [...]

  • David Oyelowo Peter Rabbit 2

    David Oyelowo Joins the Cast of Sony's 'Peter Rabbit' Sequel (EXCLUSIVE)

    Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo is set to join the cast of Sony Pictures’ “Peter Rabbit 2,” the live-action hybrid sequel to the 2018 family hit, sources tell Variety. He joins Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson, who are returning from the first film, as is James Corden in the voice of the mischievous Peter Rabbit. [...]

  • Luke Wilson Zombieland 2

    Luke Wilson Joins 'Zombieland' Sequel (EXCLUSIVE)

    Luke Wilson is set to join the ensemble of the upcoming “Zombieland” sequel, sources tell Variety. Wilson will star alongside Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin in “Zombieland 2.” As previously reported, Zoey Deutch, Thomas Middleditch, and Rosario Dawson are also boarding the cast. In the sequel, the zombie slayers must face [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content