GÖTEBORG, Sweden — Established Nordic prodco Sagafilm (“Stella Blómkvist”, “Case”) is producing Icelandic crime series “Sisterhood,” in association with Sky Studios, for commissioners NENT Group’s Nordic streamer Viaplay and Iceland’s OTT service Síminn.
The six-part series will premiere simultaneously on Viaplay and Síminn in 2021, with the latter retaining domestic first window rights. NBCUniversal Global Distribution handles international sales.
“Sisterhood” is the first project to originate from a multi-year development and distribution deal inked by Sagafilm and U.K.-based Sky Studios last fall. Sagafilm’s head of development Jóhann Ævar Grímsson (“Stella Blomkvist”, “Thin Ice”) is its creator/writer, with Björg Magnúsdóttir (“The Minister”) as co-writer. Silja Hauksdóttir (“Agnes Joy”) will direct all episodes.
“Sisterhood” begins with the skeletal remains of a young girl, Hanna, who disappeared 20 years ago, being unearthed in a picturesque fjord town in Iceland. Vera, a newly-promoted investigator is assigned to the case and delves deeper into it than anyone expects. Her peers consider Hanna’s case to be open and shut, especially as the girl’s mother was the prime suspect at the time, and has spent most of the intervening decades in state institutions as a result. But, the discovery of the remains and the renewed investigation rattles a small group of women, now in their thirties, who one fateful night killed the young girl in a fit of manic rage, and have had to live with their guilty secret ever since.
“By making its chief subject adult women who committed a heinous crime in the past, “Sisterhood” becomes a subversion of the well-trodden crime genre, “said Grímsson, for whom the core “is not the whodunit, but the notions of guilt, shame” and underlying complex web of emotions. At the same time, the characters are under “the immense pressure that the truth of what they did is closing in on then,” he comments.
Kjartan Thor Thordarson, executive producer and Sagafilm Nordic CEO, said he is delighted to unveil “Sisterhood” in Göteborg and to collaborate again with Síminn and Viaplay who were on board his prodco’s earlier hit “Stella Blómkvist.” For him, the collaboration with Sky Studios and NBC Universal brings “new depth to Nordic drama and its worldwide potential.”
Jason Simms, director of international scripted at Sky Studios, described “Sisterhood” as “a richly layered story of guilt, secrets, justice and grief, told from the unique perspective of its female protagonists.“ “We’re certain this gripping and intriguing drama will resonate with viewers around the world and are excited to showcase it to buyers later this year,” he added.
Síminn’s executive VP of programming, Pálmi Guðmundsson stressed that rarely does he “shake hands” on a scripted drama at the pitch stage, but that was the case with “Sisterhood” as “he has “enormous faith in the story and the characters.”
The crime series received support from the Icelandic Film Centre, the Icelandic Ministry of Industry, Innovation’s 25% tax incentive program and the E.U.’s Creative Europe.
At Göteborg’s TV Drama Vision confab, Sagafilm will give a two-minute sneak peek of its political series “The Minister” toplining Icelandic star Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”). The eight-part series, commissioned by Iceland’s pubcaster RÚV, will bow later this year. Cineflix Rights handles global distribution.
Part of Sagafilm’s “make local go global” content strategy, upcoming premium drama “Signals,” will be pitched at the Berlinale Co-Pro Series (Feb 25-26). The long-running series, ordered by Iceland’s Channel 2, is co-penned by Grímsson with Margrét Örnófsdóttir (“Flatey Enigma”), poet/lyricist/writer Sjón (“Lamb”) and Óskar Jónasson (“Remote Control”), who will also direct.
Two premium Nordic series co-produced by Sagafilm will bow in 2020: Climate change suspense thriller “Thin Ice,” produced by Banijay-owned Scandi brand Yellow Bird for C More/TV4; and the political drama “Cold Courage” produced by Finland’s Luminoir with Belgium’s Potemkino and Ireland’s Vico Films for Viaplay. Lionsgate handles global sales.