Nordisk Film is developing “The Lioness,” an international feature film and a miniseries about Karen Blixen, the Danish author best known for her autobiographical novel “Out of Africa,” which Sydney Pollack adapted into the 1985 pic starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.
The film and miniseries will be written by Jakob Weis (“That Time of Year”), based on two upcoming books by acclaimed author and historian Tom Buk-Swienty, and will chronicle Blixen’s life as a coffee farmer in Kenya from 1914 to 1931.
Set in the early 20th century, Buk-Swienty’s biography tells the story of a young upper-class Danish woman who sought independence from her overbearing Victorian family and hoped to make it as a coffee farmer in colonial Kenya.
“After 17 years of hardship, marked by World War I, poor harvests due to various natural disasters, the onset of the Great Depression and her tragic love affair with Denys Finch Hatton, she is finally forced to abandon her beloved African farm, which ended up giving her many more hair-raising adventures than she had bargained for,” said Nordisk Film.
Buk-Swienty, who had access to exclusive material documenting the Karen Coffee Company, shows Blixen as a pioneering female CEO in charge of more than 1,000 workers and describes her complicated relationship with her uncle, the wealthy businessman Aage Westenholz.
“She loved and admired the Africans, and in her relentless struggle for the rights of her ‘black brothers,’ as she called the native people, she was way ahead of her time,” added Buk-Swienty, whose biography, also titled “The Lioness,” will be published in August.
Blixen wrote “Out of Africa” under the pen name Isak Dinesen.
Mikael Rieks (“Land of Mine”), producer at Nordisk Film Production, said the film and miniseries will “depict the period in Karen Blixen’s life when she steps into the role of businesswoman and adventurer, presenting a highly fascinating portrait of a very modern woman whose life resonates deeply with the fundamental issues of our times.”
“More than 30 years ago, Karen Blixen’s story took the world by storm in Sydney Pollack’s ‘Out of Africa’ starring Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer. It is therefore with great humility that we now carry on the torch,” Rieks said.
Nordisk Film will also collaborate with Buk-Swienty on “The Great Dane,” a biopic about the life of Danish scientist Niels Bohr. Buk-Swienty will write a biography of Bohr, which is expected to be published in 2022.
Rieks said the partnership with Buk-Swienty is the “culmination of a year-long search for the right collaboration to turn the lives of two of the greatest Danes who ever lived into film.”