UPDATED– Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) is set to produce two major English-language films every year, kicking off with “Hilma,” a biopic of the revolutionary Swedish artist and feminist pioneer Hilma af Klint, starring Lena Olin (“Enemies”).
Lasse Hallström (‘The Cider House Rules”), one of Sweden’s most celebrated directors, is on board to write and direct the film.
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“Hilma” will explore the enigmatic life of Klint, whose unconventional art remained largely unknown for decades. Klint navigated through a male-dominated artistic scene to eventually become one of the Western world’s first abstract artists.
Olin will play Klint in her later years, while Tora Hallström (‘Hachi: A Dog’s Tale’), Olin and Lasse Hallström’s daughter, will be portraying the artist in her younger years.
“I’ve spent three years trying to understand the mystery of Hilma af Klint. This is a story about an unwavering search for the truth about humanity and the universe, at a time when men made all the rules,” said Hallström.
“Despite so many obstacles, Hilma created art that influences our lives today. My ambition is for the audience to experience these struggles with all their senses,” said the director. He said the film will show how forward-thinking, spiritual and progressive Klint was. She created abstract art six years before Kandinsky, she was ahead of them all, but she didn’t give any exhibit,” said Hallström. The cast of the film will comprise four major female characters who surrounded Klint.
The helmer, who has two film projects lined up in the U.S., said he was happy to be back at work in his homeland and praised NENT Group for having faith in “Hilma,” and giving it full attention, support, and for being “fantastically enthusiastic.” He said doing the film in English with NENT Group will allow to make it with the “epic scale” he has envisioned.
Hallström’s credits include the Oscar-nominated “The Cider House Rules,” as well as “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” “Chocolat” and “The Shipping News” which competed at Berlin.
“Hilma af Klint literally changed the way we look at the world. She happens to be Swedish, but her story says something important to audiences everywhere,” said Filippa Wallestam, NENT Group’s chief content officer.
“It’s so special to work with talents of the calibre of Lasse, Lena and Tora, and it’s even better when the project means so much to everyone involved,” added Wallestam.
Anders Jensen, NENT Group’s president and CEO, said that “in today’s very competitive streaming world, it is key to stand out and be relevant.”
“For us, building on who we are, where we come from and what we stand for is a very clear differentiator that will support our vision of becoming the European streaming champion,” said Jensen.
The executive pointed out that many women and men from the Nordics have had an “extraordinary” impact globally. “We want to share these stories with the world and hopefully find new perspectives that will both enlighten and entertain,” said Jensen.
Speaking to Variety, Jensen said NENT Group will dedicate 15 million Euros annually, possibly slightly more, to produce English-language movies during the first couple years. He said the company will fully finance “Hilma” and is making it in English rather than Swedish to ensure that it will travel everywhere.
“Instead of us doing a Nordic-language film and see Hollywood do a remake, we thought, ‘let’s do it directly in English but in an authentic way because we want to keep ‘Nordicness’,” said Jensen. “It will be a door opener for making Nordic stories easier to access,” said the executive.
When it comes to movies, the company is primarily interested in “big costume dramas, multiple-layered historical movies like ‘Hilma,’ which is also a love story and has social messages,” said Jensen.
Jensen said NENT Group was moving into movies because the demand from audiences is getting bigger and bigger,” but at the same time, “not everybody is willing to commit to a series” because it’s a “quite a big commitment,” whereas a movie is more of an instant gratification.”
He said that while NENT Group’s successful international expansion has demonstrated that the barrier for foreign-language content is much lower than it used to be, “you can still have an easier access to U.S. audiences with an English-language film.”
The company now has a library of 100 originals and will continue to produce local and international series. NENT Group will have delivered approximately 50 originals by the end of 2021.
Olin previously starred in Ingmar Bergman’s “Fanny and Alexander” and “After the Rehearsal,” as well as “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”
“Hilma” will premiere exclusively on NENT Group’s Viaplay streaming service in 2022. The film is produced by NENT Studios with Helena Danielsson as producer and Josephine Zapata Genetay as executive producer.
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