Sweden’s Plattform Produktion is teaming up with Dutch production group Lemming Film on director Ena Sendijarević’s colonial drama “Sweet Dreams.”
The film, which is set to shoot on location in Southeast Asia next year, follows tumultuous events triggered by the death of a Dutch sugar plantation owner who ends up leaving his Indian Ocean island estate to his young illegitimate son – the child of his Indonesian housemaid – upending not only his Dutch family’s plans but also established hierarchies in a single stroke.
Plattform, whose credits include “The Square” and “Force Majeure,” joins fellow co-producers A Private View from Belgium and Dutch pubcaster VPRO.
For Sendijarević, the film represents her contribution to the movement that is critically examining the past and the relationship between the West and the rest of the world and its continuing impact.
Following the death of the plantation owner and family patriarch, “everyone’s position in the pecking order is threatened, male and female, plant and animal. Chaos reigns. I want to dive into this schizophrenic state of being and express it cinematically.”
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The Bosnian-Dutch filmmaker, whose award-winning 2019 feature debut, “Take Me Somewhere Nice,” premiered in Rotterdam and went on to screen in Cannes and Sarajevo, cites Czech New Wave filmmakers like Juraj Herz as her “cinematic guides” in achieving her vision.
“Sweet Dreams” is “a darkly comic exploration of colonial power structures that recounts the final days of a Dutch-run sugar plantation in early 20th century colonial Indonesia,” said Lemming Film producer Erik Glijnis, further describing the film as “a disquieting mix of satire and thriller elements, with some surrealist influences as well.”
“The film relates to the present as well as to our recent and often problematic past and history,” he added.
“It’s a relevant and daring project that in the hands of Ena will result in an extraordinary film. Ena is definitely one of the up-and-coming talents in Europe, capable of touching upon urgent themes in an original and playful cinematic language,” Glijnis said, praising Sendijarević’s “unique style and cinematographic vision and her ability to connect to younger audiences.”
The project, which was presented at the Venice Gap-Financing Market, has already received funding from the Netherlands Film Fund, VPRO, the Netherlands’ CoBO Fund and Creative Europe. With the film set to shoot in Southeast Asia next year, the producers are now looking to secure international financing.
While they have been looking at Indonesia, where the story takes place, the producers are also investigating other options, according to Glijnis. “Due to COVID-19 we haven’t been able to send out scouts or visit possible locations.”
One of the main goals for the project at Venice was to secure a sales company. “We’re looking for a sales agent and possibly distributors and broadcasters that want to be involved in an early stage,” Glijnis said. “Besides that, we’re looking for partners based in Southeast Asia and looking to learn more from European producers that have shot projects in Southeast Asia.”
“Sweet Dreams” is budgeted at around €3 million ($3.55 million) and already has some €2.3 million ($2.7 million) in place.
The film’s producers include Glijnis and Leontine Petit for Lemming Film, Dries Phlypo and Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem for A Private View, Martien Vlietman for VPRO and Erik Hemmendorff for Plattform Produktion.
Lemming Film’s recent credits include Alejandro Landes’s Colombia-set thriller “Monos,” Burhan Qurbani’s “Berlin Alexanderplatz” and Shariff Korver’s upcoming military drama “Do Not Hesitate.”