Two-time Academy-award nominated Norwegian actor Liv Ullmann (‘The Emigrants,’ ‘Face to Face’), Ane Dahl Torp (“Charter”, “Home Ground”) and model-turned actor Elsa Brisinger, have been cast in the forthcoming Swedish dark fable “The Nix.”
The eerie pic anchored in Scandinavian mythology was pitched on Wednesday at Haugesund’s Nordic Co-Production Market by rising Swedish talent Niclas Gillis, multi-awarded for his US-set short pics “The Cave” and “Hold Me Down,” the latter winning Best Short Film at Harlem Int’l Film Festival.
“The Nix” is being produced by Nordic Factory Film Sweden’s Helene Granqvist (“Granny’s Dancing on the Table”), president of WIFT, and executive produced by Michael Huffington, former U.S. congressman, philanthropist and film producer, attached earlier to “Hold Me Down.” Non-Stop Entertainment serves as co-producer and distributor for the Nordics and Baltics.
Set in Dalecarlia, Sweden in 1868, a year of famine, the female-driven pic is an elevated horror about the Nordic ancient spirit of the woods, famed as a seducer who lures women and men to their demise. When Frida’s (Elsa Brisinger) father is found dead in the forest, her mother Freja (Ane Dahl Torp) accuses her of having incited God’s wrath through sin. In an attempt to turn the family’s fortune, Frida prays to the spirits of the woods, and becomes seduced by The Nix who takes her to the mountain. It is up to Freja and ultimately grandmother Flora (Liv Ullmann) to try to save Frida.
Speaking to Variety, Gillis said he was “inspired by The Book of Job in the Old Testament, how it relates to life. Each woman represents different stages of growth,” he explained. “Frida is full of hope and dreams, she wants life to be fair. Her mother Freja was once full of hope, but now she lives in the ruins of the broken dreams. Meanwhile Flora is stoic. She has accepted and embraced life, the way Friedrich Nietzsche refers to in his ‘Amor Fati.'”
“Ultimately, it’s a movie about aging, about wisdom,” observed the helmer, who has done thorough research around the The Nix fable, flanked by top Scandinavian experts.
Gillis said reuniting Ullmann, Torp and Brisinger is a dream come true. “Liv is an extraordinary actor, and working with her is unreal,” he said, thrilled to mention that Ingmar Bergman’s iconic muse agreed to work with him based on what she called a “very original, strange and quite wonderful script.”
Gillis cast Torp based on her outstanding performance in “Charter,” and added Brisinger following a screen test.
Non-Stop Entertainment CEO Jakob Abrahamsson sees the pic as a much-needed missing link in Swedish storytelling. “I’ve long been wondering why the Swedish film industry has not been making more use of our own myths and tales, those that have been handed down from generation to generation,” he noted. “Naturally there have been some great exceptions such as ‘Border,’ but all in all, we’ve seen ourselves outrun by the rest of the Nordic countries,” he noted.
Abrahamsson praises the filmmaker’s authentic and solid scriptwriting, with “three distinct and strong female protagonists,” at the center. “Hearing Gillis talking about how he wants to tell the story, and the precise ambition down to the smallest details of authentic locations, clothes and props, is a pure delight,” said the distributor.
The €1.9 million feature is due to start filming in May 2022.
Gillis is repped by Albatros Agency in Sweden and XYZ Films in the US.