CANNES — “Bullets,” a women-driven political thriller which adds a new cutting edge to Nordic crime suspense, won the first Buyers’ Coup de Coeur, facing off with tough competition from other often high-end dramas from ambitious producers across Europe.
Created by “Border Town’s” co-screenwriter Antii Pesonen and Vertigo Production’s Minna Virtanen, and written by Pesonen Matti Laine (“Bordertown”) and Kirsi Vikman (“Mother of Mine”), “Bullets” drew heat when it hit October’s Mipcom with Nadcon, headed by Peter Nadermann (“The Bridge,” “The Killing”) and Belgium’s Lunanime/Lumière on board as co-producers, plus Sky Vision handling international sales.
A 15-minute sneak peek of select scenes at the MipDrama Buyers Summit did not disappoint. What the excerpts did more than anything else was to establish the shifting perspectives of “Bullets,” its two arresting main characters, the context, Helsinki, and a welling sense of tragedy.
The 15-minute excepts began with a crate being craned onto a dockside in Brussels.. In it is one Madina Taburova (“Game of Throne’s” Sibel Kekilli). So “Bullets” could be about immigration.
But the longest scene seen on Sunday was a chase scene with two plain-clothes cops pursuing a suspect down the corridors of Helsinki’s chicly glass plate-walled new airport. This is far more crime thriller.
Afterwards, one of the women, Mari Saari (Finland’s Krista Kosonen), who turns out to be an undercover cop, is sent to the refugee center in snowy woods in Finland where Madina has sought political asylum. Why is not clear. But there are hints that “Bullets” might be part sorority drama, and the relationship between the two women looks set to provide the series’ dramatic focus.
What was immediately striking about the scenes shown on Sunday was their plush cinematography, and original stylistic choices: the chase scene, for example, unfolds not to the thuds of a percussive score but wanly tragic orchestral notes, then near silence. Both the women seem alone and sad, a theme which will no doubt be thrown into a broader perspective by the series.
“‘Bullets’ is one of these series which feature large, strong independent women characters, a dark atmosphere with a powerful and meaningful topical subject, and storylines which intertwine, making it highly thrilling,” said Avril Blondelot, head of content insight at Eurodata TV Worldwide-Mediametrie who, before the sneak peek screenings, delivered an onstage presentation, Newest Trends in Drama Content, together with Tape Consultancy’s John Peek.
Building to what looks like a pulsating climax, “Bullets” also flags the building drive into high-end drama investment by European telecoms which accounted, between Telefonica’s Movistar + (“Gugantes”) and Finland’s Elisa (“Bullets,” “Arctic Circle”), for half the titles at the MipDrama Buyers’ Summit.
Telecoms certainly don’t want to lose much money making drama series. But the high-end dramas are designed ultimately to drive mobile and fiber optic subs: One reason why all these three dramas looked, if the MipDrama sneak peek is anything to go by, far above par for their countries’ drama production values.