Swedish award-winning director Björn Runge has walked out on the $5m (SEK 45m) production of Simon And The Oaks (Simon Och Ekarna), claiming the film’s producers were limiting his freedom.

Runge, who won a Berlinale Blue Angel and Silver Bear for Daybreak (Om Jag Vander Mig Om), has hit out at the film’s co-producers, led by Christer Nilson from Götafilm, for trying to “limit my manoeuvring room as we came close to the decision whether to go ahead.”

In a mail to Sweden’s TT Spektra, he wrote “They have relied 100% on my preparatory work: casting, location scouting, team building and script adaptation. So when they restrain my freedom of action it can only be from a wish of taking control.”

Runge, who has also won four Guldbagger, the Swedish national film prize, added that it was a difficult choice to leave as three years of work have been wasted.

The film is based on Marianne Fredriksson’s novel and is mainly set in the 1940s. It centres on young Swedish boy as he grows up during the Second World War.

Nilson, who is producing the film in collaboration with Norway’s Filmkameratene, Denmark’s Asta Film (Per Holst) and Germany’s Schmidtz Katze Filmkollektiv, described it as a “sad situation”.

Nilson, who is now looking for a replacement, added: “I am extremely sorry that Runge decided to leave. He suddenly came up with demands which were unacceptable to the international co-producers.”

The Swedish, Danish and Norwegian film institutes have backed the project, as well as Swedish public broadcaster SVT, Swedish regional film centre, Film I Väst, and German film funds Hamburg and Berlin-Brandenburg.

The film was originally set to shoot last autumn in Gothenburg, where most of Fredriksson’s story takes place. Although no actors have yet been contracted, Nilson is confident that it would go into production later this year.