Director Ole Bornedal is enjoying something of a comeback. After the success of his debut film Nightwatch in 1994, Bornedal went to Hollywood to remake the thriller with Ewan McGregor for Miramax.
But the film disappointed on its release and Bornedal decided to focus on theatre work at home in his native Denmark. He directed the 2002 English-language film I Am Dina, which was at the time the most expensive Scandinavian film ever made, but the film struggled to live up to its high expectations.
However, last year saw two Bornedal films hit the radar with a bang, catapulting Bornedal back into the league of European directors to watch.
Just Another Love Story is a mistaken-identity drama about a family man who is assumed to be the boyfriend of an accident victim, while The Substitute is a children's genre film about a teacher possessed by an alien. Both impressed audiences and critics at home and on the festival circuit, including Sundance.
Mandate Pictures has picked up English-language remake rights to both projects and will co-produce with Bornedal's regular partner, Michael Obel of Thura Film. Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures will executive produce The Substitute.
Now Bornedal is in post-production in Copenhagen on his next film, Free Us From Evil, a thriller about an immigrant from the Balkans wrongly accused of murder in a small Danish town. The locals decide to take the law into their own hands in the middle of a party celebrating the town's 400th anniversary.
'I wouldn't say you were wrong if you told me the film sounds like a sharp allegory on the hatred of strangers we are witnessing a lot these days,' says Bornedal. 'I try to take the European tradition of character study and blend it with the American tradition of storytelling.'
Bornedal makes a point of casting little-known Danish actors in his films. Free Us From Evil stars Lene Nystrom, the former lead singer of 1990s pop group Aqua and stand-up comedian Lasse Rimmer as a couple trying to protect the accused man.
'On set, using newcomers gives us a stronger ensemble,' Bornedal explains. 'On the other hand with amateurs you have to be prepared to save them more than the professionals. I had a lot of lifebuoys at hand with inspiration from my time in theatre in order to bring the amateur up to the level needed.'
Thura Film is producing Free Us From Evil, and TrustNordisk is handling international sales. The film is due for release in Denmark in March 2009.
Bornedal is also working on a handful of projects with different international companies and scriptwriters. Maldeeds, for one, is a thriller set in luxurious surroundings - and in broad daylight.
'I got the idea on a sunny vacation I had,' Bornedal explains. 'Why not use the opposite setting of a thriller' Usually there is a dark house in one of the leading parts. Not in my film. I usually get my ideas from an image, a curious thought or some absurd detail of everyday life.'