The enduring real-life mystery of “Isdal Woman” will be the subject of a new spy thriller series.
Handwritten Pictures, part of Stefan Arndt and Tom Tykwer’s X Filme, and Beta Film’s “Undercover” producer Good Friends are the German producers. Fenes Film is the Norwegian partner. Beta Film will handle distribution and take the project to market. German and Norwegian broadcasters are expected to be announced shortly.
Isdal Woman has fascinated people for almost 50 years, with the BBC reporting new findings as recently as this week. The case began in 1970 when hikers found the body of a woman in the Isdalen Valley on the west coast of Norway. Initially considered a suicide, the case took a mysterious turn when evidence came to light showing she was in possession of fake identities, fueling speculation that she may have been a Cold War spy. Her identity has still not been established.
A popular podcast, “Death in Ice Valley,” from Norwegian and British pubcasters NRK and the BBC, covered the story. Now it will be the subject of a drama series.
The eight-hour series will follow two timelines. It will connect the story of a young female detective in 1970s Norway with a woman in present-day Germany, who works for a diplomat and becomes accidentally involved in the case. Both have to uncover the Isdal Woman’s identity while facing pushback from the powerful groups who have tried to keep it secret for almost 50 years.
Good Friends’ Moritz von der Groeben (“Arthur’s Law”), Fenes Film’s Sigurjon Einarsson, and Eric Bouley and Christopher Sassenrath from Handwritten Pictures will executive produce.
The production and writing team hails from the film and television industry with Ólafur Egilsson (“Woman at War”), Óskar Jónasson (“Reykjavík-Rotterdam”), German TV director Florian Knittel and newcomer Philipp Sickmann all attached. A research team of Norwegian journalists and historians, including Bjørn Westlie, a renowned writer, journalist and professor at Oslo Metropolitan University, will also work on the show.
“There must be good reasons why the mystery of the Isdal Woman could not be solved up to the present day,” said von der Groeben. “During development, we were astonished by the fact that, during the Cold War, the picturesque Norwegian west coast had been a crucial site of the arms race and spying activities – in many ways what happened back then is being mirrored today.”
Sassenrath added: “Isdal Woman is an original yet genuine European narrative with roots in Norway and all of Scandinavia, but also in Germany. Accordingly, the mystery surrounding the dead woman is capable to reach and fascinate viewers from all over the world.”
Shooting on the project gets underway in fall 2020.