“Flee” multi-awarded Danish writer/director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, most recently nominated for the Nordic Council Film Prize, is set to take up the animated format and displacement theme with the project under the working title “Dane” (“Dansker”), spear-headed by Danish production outfit Ja Film (“LEGO Elves”).
The animation feature project is based on “The Dane Trilogy” (“Dansker Trilogien”) comic books by rising Danish talent Halfdan Pisket, winner of the 2019 series prize at the Angoulême international comics fest.
Consisting of the books “Deserter,” “Cockroach” and “Dane,” published locally between 2014-2016, the trilogy about identity and integration, draws on the life-experience of Pisket’s father. Forced to leave his native Turkey after deserting the army, the main character James struggles to integrate in Denmark and turns to the criminal world. His family will be key to his survival.
“I personally read ‘The Dane Trilogy’ a couple of years back and was immediately drawn in by the brutal and psychedelic approach to a very personal story,” said Rasmussen in a statement. “I read the whole thing in one go. It really stuck with me afterwards and I was surprised how Halfdan Pisket succeeded in captivating me and making me feel empathy toward a protagonist who is so unpleasant.”
For “Flee’s” director, the trilogy is “a story about violence, about how the violence of a community is inherited into a young man growing up in a patriarchal society racked by civil wars in its past. About how you lose your identity by making yourself tough and being violent and in the end how you break the vicious spiral.”
Ja Film co-founder Anders Berthelsen, who serves as producer with Marie Stokholm Wernicke and Lise Uldbjerg Jørgensen, said Rasmussen is writing a second draft of the script, together with “Flee’s” script consultant Eskil Vogt (Joachim Trier’s regular co-writer and writer/helmer of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard entry “The Innocents”).
“Jonas has a wonderful sensibility for character development and a talent for creating real emotions out of animated material,” said Berthelsen, whose company was tied to the post-production of “Flee,” produced by Denmark’s Final Cut For Real and Sun Creature.
Key to the “Dane” project is Dutch production powerhouse Submarine. Rights holders of “The Dane Trilogy” comic books adaptation, the Amsterdam-based outfit then turned to Ja Film, to steer the ambitious pic from Denmark, while staying on board as minority co-producers.
“Dane” has received support so far from Creative Europe (through Ja Film slate support), the Danish Film Institute and West Danish Film Fund. Visual development is slated to kick-start in September.
Housed in a chocolate factory in Aarhus, Denmark, Ja Film is behind the “LEGO Elves” TV series, shown on Disney Channel in the U.S. and the animated pic “Vitello,” co-produced by Zentropa and the U.K.’s Sellout Pictures.
Currently in production is the animated TV series “Monster Loving Maniacs,” co-produced with Belgium’s Belvision, Ginger Pictures and Italy’s Mondo. Toon2Tango serves as global distributor.
Meanwhile Rasmussen’s “Flee” described by Variety’s Peter Debruge as a “sophisticated refugee story,” is screening at the Nordic Focus section of this week’s Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund. The sold-out animated documentary, repped by Cinephil, is due to open in the U.S. via Neon and Participant.