Baltasar Kormakur’s The Deep is one of a number of hot Icelandic titles, also including thriller Black’s Game, that are in post production now.
Baltasar Kormakur is heading into post production on his eighth feature The Deep, an Iceland-set drama based on true events.
In March 1984, a man named Gudlaugur Fridthórsson miraculously survived a shipwreck off the coast of Iceland’s Westmann Islands and swam for six hours (in sea temperatures that would usually kill a man within 15 minutes) and then had to walk barefoot for two hours across volcanic rocks before reaching help.
Kormakur is not just interested in the man’s heroic struggle that day, but also his past (he was part of a group of people whose houses were destroyed the Heimaey eruption in 1973), and how that played into his psyche. “As he swam, he reviewed his life mentally, and that was one of the most powerful events in his life,” Kormakur says.
The film will also explore the man’s life after the event and his survivor’s guilt (his fellow fishermen perished). Olafur Darri Olafsson plays the main character.
Kormakur shot the film in 2010 but hadn’t edited it yet because last year he was in New Orleans directing Contraband – starring Mark Wahlberg, for Working Title/Universal. (That film will open in early 2012.)
Kormakur is also one of The Deep’s producers (with his partner in Blueeyes Productions, Agnes Johansen) and he wrote the script along with Jon Atli Jonasson (who wrote the play from which the script is adapted). Bergsteinn Bjorgulfsson served as DoP and shot on the RED ONE.
Shooting on the sea (and in the sea) was a challenge during the arduous three-week shoot, which included sinking a 40-ton boat more than once. “The shoot was as tough as it gets. Yet it’s not as tough as what he really went through. It sounds whiny comparing it with what the real story is,” Kormakur remarks.
The Icelandic Film Centre, The Nordic Film and TV Fund, The Norwegian Film Fund and Eurimages all backed the project, and Framestore’s Iceland office is handling visual effects.
The Deep should be ready for a release in Iceland around Christmas, and then will go to festivals early next year. There have been some discussions with sales companies, but nothing is signed yet.
“It’s a great story after the [economic] collapse in Icleand to understand who we are and why we live here, and why we keep fishing,” says Kormakur. “It is a tough movie but an important one.”
The Deep is just one of a number of Icelandic features now in post, which were presented by the Icelandic Film Centre at this week’s Reykjavik International Film Festival. Laufey Gudjónsdóttir, head of the Centre, said: “There is a relatively low volume of production compared to some previous years, as a result of the financial crash. But we’re healthy and the filmmakers are still full of energy.”
Also in post now is Black’s Game (pictured above), the buzzy feature debut of Oskar Thor Axelsson for Zik Zak (which also produced this year’s Icelandic Oscar submission, Volcano). Black’s Game is already heating up sales based on a promo that TrustNordisk is showing, with deals already done with the UK (eOne) and Switzerland (Frenetic) and more in play. Black’s Game is also inspired by true events, about the growth and development of the criminal underworld and drugs scene in Iceland. Thorvaldur David Kristjansson stars.
Further, Olaf de Fleur, who won a Teddy in Berlin in 2007 for The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela, returns with City State. This is another crime drama, with four parallel stories based around a crime kingpin, a corrupt narcotics officer, a young police officer who starts a secret unit, and a Serbian immigrant seeking revenge.
The cast includes Ingvar E Sigurdsson (Jar City), Agusta Eva Erlendsdottir, Sigurdur Sigurjonsson and Zlatko Krikkic.
That film will be out in Iceland in October and will go to festivals starting early next year. Producer Kristin Andrea Thordardottir of Poppoli Pictures noted that there was strong interest in a US remake.
More family friendly than the criminal underground is Legends of Valhalla - Thor, which is an €8.4m animated 3D family film based on original stories from Nordic mythology. Oskar Jonasson directs and the script was written by Fridrik Erlingsson.
The project started full production two years ago, and it will be the largest film ever produced in Iceland; it is a co-production with Germany and Ireland. Companies on board are Caoz, Ulysses, Studio Rakete & Magma Productions.
Producer Hilmar Sigardssson, who is one of the founders of Caoz, noted that Cinepool has already sold the film to 50+ territories and it starts releasing in October.
Offering a different slice of Icelandic life is Thorfinnur Gudnason’s documentary Bakka Baldur, about a horse breeder who wants to travel to Hawaii to see an old friend who might die soon. That film opens locally Oct 6.