The two upcoming TV shows were among ten high-end international series looking for co-financing, pitched for the first time to a packed audience of TV drama delegates at the Berlinale Co-Pro Series event held on Tuesday.   

  • The Danish TV show A Family Matter (8x45’) will mark Pernille Fischer Christensen’s first steps into long-form fiction. Penned by seasoned writer Maja Jul Larsen (The Legacy, Borgen), the series is produced by Claudia Saginario for DR Drama.

    A Family Matter is the story of a family, torn apart by the school essay of 14 year-old Holly who described domestic violence at home. Lars, a social worker is assigned to the case. A strong believer in Holly’s story, he puts the teenager and her younger brother in foster care. Devastated, the mother claims that her daughter’s story is pure fabrication and together with the stepfather, she launches a legal battle against Lars and Holly.

    “The series is about the lies that we tell ourselves and each other, and about the complexity of doing the right thing,” said Maja Jul Larsen who has based her writing on thorough research. “It’s a family drama, but also an examination of our social system, she ads.”

    Pernille Fischer Christensen who attended the Berlinale in 2018 with Becoming Astrid, said she will bring ‘authenticity and complexity’ to the story. Bjarne Henriksen (The Killing, Badehotellet) is cast as Lars, Peter Plaugborg (Winter Brothers, Submarino) as the stepfather, and newcomer Christine Albeck Bjørge (Love & Other Catastrophes) will play the mother.  The DR Drama project in the last stages of financing will start filming in May 2019. 
  • The Finnish series Reindeer Mafia (8x42’) has secured Sweden’s top actor Mikael Persbrandt and Finnish actor/musician Samuli Edelmann (Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol, Man Exposed) in some of the key roles. Based on Mikko-Pekka Heikkinen’s book, the gangster drama is produced by Kaiho Republic’s Pete Eklund and Liisa Penttilä Asikainen for MTV3/C More.

    The central character is the son of a reindeer lord in the northernmost Lapland who starts an outlaw snowmobile club and challenges his father, boss of the local Cosa Nostra enterprise. At stake is the destruction of nature and that of Lapland. “With the series, we will smash all the stereotypes about Lapland,” promises Eklund. The project is in development stage.

Three other Nordic dramas were pitched at the Co-Pro Series:

  • The Norwegian conspiracy thriller Hacker (8x45’) is produced by Hans-Jørgen Osnes and Yngve Sæther of Motlys (Home Ground). Andreas J. Riiser (Twigson the Explorer, Out in the Edge) is writer/director. Co-writers are Christian A. Owe and Amalie Kasin Lerstang.

    The TV show explores how we use social media and digital tools in our daily lives and the dangers of giving away private data. The central character is Mia (34), a former climbing champion and failed university student, now working as a biker courier. When she is asked to bring a mysterious package to ‘Zero’, one of Norway’s greatest hackers, officially working as a teacher, Mia will soon be pulled into a conspiracy. The project has received development money from NRK. Benelux’s Lumiere Group will co-produce. Filming is scheduled to start in 2020. 
  • The Norwegian sci-fi comedy Clone (10x20’) created by Ole Giæver (Out of Nature) is produced by Maria Ekerhovd (Mer Film), with support from the Norwegian Film Institute’s ‘New Ways’ (Nye veier) scheme. In the series set in space, the main character clones himself and the dual relationship with his wife Eva turns into a triangle drama. “We want to laugh at the absurd cloning situation and at the same time, explore the character’s existential journey,” said Giæver in Berlin. Filming is set to start in September 2019. 
  • The first Faroese series Trom (8x45’) is produced by Jón Hammer of the Faroe Islands’ KYK Pictures, in co-production with Copenhagen-based REinvent Studios, handling world distribution. The crime drama is written by Torfinnur Jákupsson from Jagvan Isaksen’s crime novels.

    Journalist Hannis Martinsson comes back to the Faroe Islands form Denmark, to investigate the murder of an animal rights activist. But his work soon disrupts the island community, where suddenly each friend and family member is a suspect.  “Trom will put the Faroese society under the microscope and bring the Faroe Islands out to the world,” said Hammer. Production is set to start early 2020.

Among the event international series, the UK/US series Napoleon will be directed by the Oscar-nominated Agnieszka Holland based on a script by Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff (Brimstone, Sleeper Cell). “The story needs to be told now that democracy in Europe is in crisis and some people are looking for ‘easy solutions’ and for leaders to make countries ‘great again’, said the acclaimed director of Polish origin who will explore the complexity of the man, Napoleon, through his private life. Shooting for the first season of 8x60’ is set to start in the spring 2020.

As part of the Berlinale’s Co-Production Market’s collaboration with Lille’s Series Mania, the French TV drama festival picked the high-end Austrian historical crime drama Big Bones for its project exchange programme. The series from show-runner David Schalko (M-A City Hunts a Murderer) is set to start filming in March 2020. Beta Film handles world distribution.