SF Studios has boarded “Ellen,” an inspirational period drama about an unsung Danish woman who saved Jews during WW II. It will be directed by Mehdi Avaz (“Collision”) and executive produced by Niels Juul, whose credits include “Ferrari,” “Silence” and “The Irishman.”
Written by James Wyllie, the English-language movie will tell the true story of Ellen Nielsen, a fishmonger and single mother of six kids, who initiated the dangerous transport of Danish Jews on fishing boats to safety in Sweden during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. Ellen’s tiny house, which was located in a fishing village on the outskirts of Copenhagen, became the central point of the Danish resistance movement and harbored a complex system of secret communication and transport.
Juul, who previously headed Cecchi Gori Pictures where he worked on “Life Is Beautiful,” “Il Postino” and “Shawshank Redemption,” is passionate about the project.
“When I first got into the film business, my mother, herself a single mother who lived during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, asked me if I had heard about Ellen Nielsen and her incredible heroics and stamina and if I thought it might make for a good movie,” said Juul, who is currently exec producing Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
“After digging into the true story and reading Cherine Munkholt’s comprehensive research paper, it became clear that (as usual) my mom was right. In Ellen, I’ve rarely come across a story that celebrates the beauty and power of universal motherhood and how her initiative got a whole village involved in one of the most daring rescue operations during WWII, ultimately affirming the old Jewish saying, ‘Whoever saves one life, saves all of humanity,'” added Juul, whose currently attending with Cannes with Avaz.
Wyllie, an expert on WW2 and Nazi Germany who previously wrote “Goering and Goering: Hitler’s Henchman and His Anti-Nazi Brother,” penned the script of “Ellen” based on Munkholt’s research.
Avaz made his feature debut with “While We Live” and followed up with “Collision.” He’s currently working with SF Studios on “Toscana,” a romantic drama with Cristiana Dell’Anna, Laerke Winther and Anders Matthesen.
“As filmmakers, we can travel back and forth in time with our stories. I want to travel back in time and tell Ellen’s amazing story that has shaped many mothers and sons today,” said Avaz.
SF Studios’ roster of ambitious films and series includes the Danish epic movie “Margrete Queen of the North,” the Norwegian feature film “Quisling,” the Swedish feature film “The Emigrants” and Swedish original series “Snabba Cash” for Netflix.
“The story is incredibly strong. Born for the screen. We are very excited to team up with Niels Juul and Mehdi Avaz in making this film,” said Yaba Holst, head of nordic acquisition at SF Studios.