Beta Film has acquired world sales rights to “Estonia,” an ambitious Finnish series telling the true story of Europe’s deadliest maritime disaster of the 20th century. The eight-part event drama will reteam “Bordertown” creator Miikko Oikkonen (“Bordertown,” “Helsinki Syndrome”) and helmer Juuso Syrjä (Bordertown), who will split directing duties with Måns Månsson (“Snabba Cash”).
Finland’s biggest drama project to date, “Estonia” is produced by Beta Nordic Studio’s Finnish banner Fisher King, and co-produced by Swedish Kärnfilm AB, Panache Production Belgium and the Estonian Amrion Oü. Also co-producing are streaming service C More Finland and Sweden, along with the broadcaster TV4 and MTV Finland, in collaboration with Beta Film.
The character-driven series, whose shoot is due to start in the spring, will captures the true event of the sinking of the MS Estonia, the country’s largest ship, in September 1994. The cruise ferry was hit by a major storm, which led to uncontrolled tilting. Within one hour, the MS Estonia sank in Finnish waters in the Baltic Sea, claiming more than 850 lives.
The show will chronicle the subsequent investigation launched jointly by Estonia, Finland and Sweden. Since the confidentiality agreement signed by all investigators and authorities ended in 2019, “Estonia” will deliver insights into conflicts, lies and conspiracy theories which have recently emerged.
The character-driven story will be told through the eyes of survivors, rescuers, family members, politicians, investigators and journalists.
Producers are Matti Halonen and Johannes Lassila at Fisher King, Martina Stöhr and Petra Jönsson at Kärnfilm AB and Riina Sildos at Amrion Oü and André Logie at Panache Production. Executive producers are Piodor Gustafsson (C More) and Jani Hartikainen (MTV Finland).
Filming will take place in Finland, Sweden and Estonia, while the water scenes will be shot in the water tank sets in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, which boasts one of the most advanced water stages in Europe.
“I’m very humbled and proud to be a part of the upcoming series ‘Estonia.’ The scripts about the investigation and the reasons behind the accident are truly intriguing and captivating,” said Månsson.
Fisher King CEO Matti Halonen said, “The sinking of Estonia was a tragic event. It is very important for us to respect all the victims and their relatives.”
“Almost 30 years have passed since the accident and with the help of fiction we can tell new perspectives on what happened. The work of the investigation committee was very difficult and highly political. The final report, released three years later, met with controversy,” explained the executive.
Halonen said the character-driven approach of the creative team will deliver a “gripping but also highly emotional story.”
“I was very taken by the strong script and emotionally compelling characters. The story is highly character-driven and complemented by engaging visual storytelling. I believe the series will give deeper insight into the tragic event and that makes the series worth doing.”
Besides Fisher King, Beta Nordic Studio also owns Icelandic banner Sagafilm (“The Minister,” “Stella Blomkvist”), Sweden’s Unlimited Stories (“Missing People”) and Dramacorp (“Cryptid”), as well as Norway’s Cinenord (“Atlantic Crossing”).