Actress-turned-director Liv Ullmann has withdrawn from the $9.5m historical biopic on Ole Bull, a Norwegian violinist and composer who died in 1880, which is currently in pre-production at Nordisk Film.
The high-profile production based on a script by local author Ketil Bjornstad and backed by Norway's most famous violinist Arve Tellefsen, has been Ullmann's pet project for several years.
In a surprising move that is getting huge local media attention, she has accused the Norwegian Film Fund of having sent the project into development hell by not greenlighting it right away. "We finished the script as previously agreed in April, but have not heard anything from the Fund about the next phases. We should have started by now if the picture is supposed to premiere in 2005 as planned." Ullmann told the daily newspaper Dagbladet.
Ullmann also said that she had reacted strongly when reading in newspapers that the Fund had recently greenlighted several new films.
"I don't' even know if they have read my script over there. I haven't seen anything like this anywhere in the world" she said.
It is not the first time Ullmann has expressed strong feelings about Norwegian film bureaucrats. Her previous Norwegian production, Kristin Lavransdatter originally budgeted at $5.5m, resulted in budget excesses that prompted the state production outfit Norsk Film's managing director Esben Hoilund Carlsen to resign in 1994 having exceeded $7.2m in production costs.
The film became Norway's biggest box office hit, but Ullmann chose to produce her next two features Private Conversations and Faithless in Sweden.