U.S. born British filmmaker Aaron Brookner (“Uncle Howard”) is plotting his first Nordic noir, slated for a market debut at Haugesund’s Nordic Co-Production Market, part of the leading Scandinavian confab New Nordic Films (Aug. 23-26).
Based on the novel “A Gift to My Mother” by London-based Finnish author and journalist Jouko Heikura, the thriller is being written and produced by Brookner and Paula Alvarez Vaccaro, co-founders of pedigreed Pinball London, which acquired rights to the book and handled the English-translation for the pic’s initial development stage.
The novel was brought to them by their Finnish co-producer Pauliina Stahlberg, credited for Netflix crime drama “Deadwind,” Seasons 2 & 3.
The story – slightly altered for screen purposes- – centres on a London-based human rights female lawyer, as she attempts to solve the mystery of a crime committed years ago against her terminally ill Finnish mother. Her rogue investigation takes her to a suspicious neighbour, and puts her own life in jeopardy.
Vaccaro and Broockner, who collected multiple kudos in Venice 2020 for their U.K./Portuguese drama “Listen,” co-written with helmer Ana Rocha, are thrilled to be preparing their first Scandi-co-production, dealing with a topic close to their heart: Immigration.
“Pinball has always been about producing content with an international perspective. This is part of our DNA,” explains Argentinian-born Vaccaro. “Even with Sally Potter’s ‘Ginger & Rosa,’ we brought in a Canadian partner,” she noted. “Then when Brexit came, we started looking at content from an immigration perspective.”
“‘A Gift to My Mother’” therefore combines the immigration theme that we’re so fond of with a fascinating, complex and multi-layered plot. It also gives us a chance to collaborate with Nordic producers, that I profoundly respect for their progressive and often trailblazing mindset,” added Vaccaro.
Brookner, whose international breakthrough came with his 2016 Sundance doc “Uncle Howard” exec produced by Jim Jarmusch, said he sees “A Gift to My Mother” as “a London take on Nordic Noir”. He wants to take inspiration from David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” for the majority one-location thriller, budgeted under €2 million ($2 million).
Vaccaro said she has a second draft of the script “with enough bone for a partner to give notes” and hopes to lock co-financing deals on the heels of Brookner’s pitch in Haugesund on Aug. 24.
A total of 23 international projects will be pitched at New Nordic Films’ Nordic Co-production Market in Haugesund, which runs parallel to the 50th Norwegian Int’ Film Festival (Aug 20-26).