EXCLUSIVE: Daniel Dencik is readying an August 4 start of shoot for his first fiction feature, Gold Coast; his short Tal R premieres in Karlovy Vary.
The film will shoot for about seven weeks, mostly in Ghana. Some opening scenes will be shot in Copenhagen.
Kon-Tiki’s Jakob Oftebro will star, along with Danica Curcic. Both were EFP Shooting Stars in Berlin this year.
The story is about the illegal Danish slave trade on Africa’s Gold Coast. The story, based on true events, is set in the 1830s as Wulff Joseph Wulff arrives in Africa to set up plantations and falls in love with a slave girl despite having a fiancée at home in Denmark. Through the young slave girl’s help, he exposes the corruption of the trade.
“I’m a fiction writer, and while I was researching a book I found these letters in the library. In Denmark it’s almost a secret, nobody knows what happened in Africa in the Danish authority,” Dencik tells Screen.
He found letters from a young officer named Wulff, and used these as a jumping-off point – “it’s a mix of many people’s lives,” he says. “I made him a botanist and an idealist, but in real life he was more like a bureaucrat. I combined characters to make the story more entertaining and compact.”
Dencik, who won this year’s Nordisk Film Prize, is best known for his documentaries including Expedition To The End of the World and Moon Rider. Yet he is no stranger to the fiction world, having also written novels.
He envisions Gold Coast as a hybrid of documentary and fiction, and the film has financing from both camps.
“We’re trying to combine a very doc approach to filming — even though we will dress locations, it will be documentary style. The extras are not prepared for what is going to happen,” Dencik explains.
“We’re trying to create something unique, it’s untraditional,” he continues. “We have two different setups, a more classical setup with normal size crew. But then half the time we’ll use a guerrilla style crew, just me and the DoP [Martin Munch] and Jakob going into the wilderness. It’s a gift that nature is so timeless.”
The film’s authenticity is also helped by shooting in Ghana, where the story actually happened.
The ambitious project is being shot on a budget of under €2m. The Danish Film Institute is supporting the film, which will be delivered for a launch in July 2015.
Michael Haslund-Christensen is producing.
Dencik says: “I’m really excited, it’s going to be my biggest job by far.”
Tal R in Karlovy Vary
Meanwhile, Dencik’s short film Tal R: The Virgin, will screen on July 7 in competition at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The 30-minute film, which won the Danish Film Academy prize for best short documentary, is about an artist in Denmark and his group of friends.
Dencik makes a return to Karlovy Vary, which last year showed both Expedition to The End of the World and Moon Rider.