Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt (“Sex Education,” “The Hobbit”) is the star of “Hammarskjöld,” Per Fly’s Cold War-set political thriller, which Beta Cinema will launch at the European Film Market.
Persbrandt will play the lead role in the English-language film as Dag Hammarskjöld, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations who died in a mysterious plane crash in 1961.
Hammarskjöld, whom John F. Kennedy called “the greatest statesman of our century,” was a Nobel Prize winner who fought to end colonization.
Produced by Beta Nordic Studios’ Swedish banner Unlimited Stories, the story opens at the peak of the Cold War in 1961 at the UN headquarters in New York City. The charismatic diplomat and economist Dag Hammarskjöld has reached the pinnacle of his power, serving as Secretary General of the United Nations in his seventh year.
After decolonization, he takes it upon himself to bring peace to the African countries, thwarting plans to further exploit resources of both powerful entrepreneurs and world leaders. When UN peacekeepers are killed in open battle in the Congo, Hammarskjöld sees no other way than to enforce by new means, leading UN troops into their first wartime operation. Well aware that his enemies might gather to plot against him, he boards a plane in a final desperate attempt to negotiate a cease-fire.
Ulf Ryberg, the screenwriter of “Millenium,” “Headhunters” and “Wallander,” penned the film with Fly.
“For several years I have been fascinated by Dag Hammerskjöld and his idealistic struggle for a better and fairer world,” said Fly, the prominent filmmaker of “Waltz with Monica” and “Borgen.” “With Dag, the dream of a strong UN came to an end, and the last nine months of his life delivered the tragic plot to a thriller drama about greed, violence and longing – set in the terrifying world of the Cold War where the killing of politicians was a part of normal affairs,” Fly continued.
Patrick Ryborn, who is producing the film at Unlimited Stories, said their “story about Dag Hammarskjöld is a political thriller and at the same time a personal portrait of the private man.”
“With despots currently at the head of many countries, our world today needs, more than ever, someone like Dag Hammarskjöld and a UN that would truly make a difference,” added Ryborn.
Tassilo Hallbauer, head of sales and acquisitions at Beta Cinema, said the “gripping” film is “based on historical facts and including the results of recent investigations.”
Hallbauer, who described Hammarsjköld as “one of mankind’s most respected diplomats,” said his “uncompromising moral stance will inspire audiences world-wide.” “And to see how much he sacrificed for peace makes for highly emotional, unforgettable moments,” added Hallbauer.
“Hammarsjköld” marks the first international collaboration since Beta Nordic Studios acquired 51% of the company in 2021.
Alongside Persbrandt, the cast includes Francis Chouler, Cian Barry, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Colin Salmon, Richard Brake, Sara Soulié and Thure Lindhardt.
The key crew includes John C. Rosenlund, cinematographer of “The Wave” and “The Emigrants.” Co-producers are Nordisk Film, SVT, C More, Film i Väst, Nordsvensk Filmunderhållning AB and Maipo A/S.
“Hammarsjköld” is backed by the Swedish Film Institute, the Norwegian Film Institute and the Nordic Film & TV Fund.
Currently in post, “Hammarsjköld” will boast extensive VFX work and is expected to be delivered during the third quarter of 2023. Nordisk Film is distributing the movie in Scandinavia, while Beta Cinema represents all international markets and will present the first footage to buyers at the EFM.