Danish director Tobias Lindholm and actor Pilou Asbaek, who first collaborated on hard-hitting prison drama R in 2010, reunite for Lindholm’s new movie A Hijacking, which is being readied for completion by Cannes.
Lindholm, who co-directed R with documentary film-maker Michael Noer, goes solo on A Hijacking which adopts the same uber-realistic style in telling the fictional story of a Danish cargo ship captured by Somali pirates.
Asbaek plays one of the seven crew members who is held hostage, while Soren Malling plays the CEO of the shipping company back in Denmark who is involved in the negotiations to free the men while trying to pay the lowest possible ransom.
Like R, which shot in a real prison location with mainly non-professional actors who all had experience of prison life, A Hijacking is what Lindholm calls “realism in real life.” “We don’t want to tell lies,” he explains. Nothing of what we are showing actually happened, but we follow the logic of reality. You can tell greater stories in reality than you can in your mind.”
Many of the negotiations are based on actual transcripts while the phone calls between Denmark and the ship in the Indian Ocean actually took place between the actors in the two locations.
The actors were never told too much in advance of what would happen, and Lindholm strived to ensure that the smallest details were correct.
The veracity was enhanced significantly when a real-life British hostage negotiator contacted the film-makers offering his services. He actually appears in the film, although Lindholm isn’t telling anyone his name just yet.
“He opened doors to us as to how to approach this world of hostage negotiation because at the start we didn’t know how to approach it,” he explains.
Produced by Tomas Radoor and Rene Ezra, the film was made independent of influence on a budget of under $3m, not bad bearing in mind that much of the drama was actually shot on a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean. “We were in the soup and were at risk ourselves from real pirates, so we had a private security firm protecting us,” he says.
Lindholm says that there are 500 hostages being held in the Gulf right now and that the problem is a constant one that rarely makes the news these days. “Everyone is caught up in it, the Somalis, the politicians, the businessmen, the hostages,” he says. “It’s a very complicated situation, and these negotiations are very tense because they are negotiations for people’s lives.”
The film could benefit from the international heat surrounding TV show Borgen, about the administration of Denmark’s first (fictional) female prime minister, which stars Asbaek and Malling and on which Lindholm is a chief writer. Lindholm has also written Thomas Vinterberg’s latest film The Hunt, which is currently in post-production.
TrustNordisk is handling sales on both The Hunt and A Hijacking.