CANNES — As this edition of Canneseries proves once more, Norway is a production hub to be reckoned with. Apart from the local series “Magnus” playing in competition, the festival is hosting producers Silje Hopland Eik and Cindy Hanson, of prolific outlet Cinenord, who are both on hand to present their latest project, “Ice Valley,” as part of Canneseries Drama Producers Pitch forum.
The genre bending project marks the latest TV venture for Cinenord, a production company that has also ushered 28 films. Eik and Hanson spoke with Variety ahead of their pitch session on Tuesday.
What were the roots of “Ice Valley?”
Hanson: It all originated from the fact that Silje and I are both from Bergen, the city at the center of “Ice Valley.” We’ve always been fascinated by this area, this sort of Bermuda Triangle of mysteries that go all the way back to the Viking age. It seems like an area that attracts murders, suicides, and accidents. It has this aura of mystery around it, and we’ve always wanted to tell a story from there. We started doing the research, and we found out just how many mysteries there were. So many people have disappeared and been exposed to terrible things there, and we just knew this had to be a show. So that’s when we started immersing ourselves in the creation process.
And how did you try to mix up the genre?
Hanson: We really wanted to combine in with a university setting, because we felt that hadn’t really been done before, where you have the supernatural element combined with a university setting. It’s a time of life where you’re looking for your identity, your values. You’re trying to figure out who you are and what you believe, and that’s why one of our headlines is: “What do you believe is happening in Ice Valley?”
We have our two characters who represent the polar opposites of belief. One is Thea, who is very spiritual and open-minded, and leans towards the mystical. And then you have Amir, who is the atheist, the medical student who looks for the empirical and rational solutions. I think most viewers will find themselves leaning towards one side or the other.
In that way, the series is a bit different from your average Scandinoir.
Eik: Scandinoir is so much about the landscape, and I think we’re still bringing that to mix. You have the fierceness of nature and its extreme beauty, and it’s almost like the landscape becomes a character in itself. At the same time, we’re breaking out of the traditional noir style because we’re moving into a hybrid genre. We have the aspects of teenage life — the fun, the parties, the questions of love and friendship that young adults face – and we’re mixing that with a more supernatural element. And that’s not very Nordic noir, which tends to be more realistic. This show is more exuberant – I think we more sharply delineate those contrasts of life. On the one hand, you have the more idyllic and beautiful aspects of Bergen, and then you have some much crazier stuff going in Ice Valley.
For your upcoming historical series “Atlantic Crossing” you opted to go with a public broadcaster rather than an international platform. What led you to make that choice?
Eik: I’m proud that we were able to finance such a high budget out of Scandinavia with our public broadcasters. It means that there’s still some willingness to come together. Those public broadcasters will reach the entire population, and that’s a much bigger public than any streaming platform. Still, we have high ambitions for international sales. Right now, we’ve just pre-sold throughout Scandinavia, Beta Film is handling international sales, and they’re very excited about the project. They have high hopes.
What other TV projects are you working on right now?
Eik: We have “Atlantic Crossing”, that is still shooting, and then we have “Wisting” which premieres this week. “Ice Valley” is something we have in development, and we have others in development too. We’re also exploring other genres than crime.
Hanson: But we still love crime!