Black Port (Verbud) is co-produced by ARTE and the UK’s Turbine Studios, with support among others from Nordisk Film & TV Fond. 

The series is a long-gestated project for top actors and co-creators Björn Hlynur Haraldsson (Trapped, Fortitude), Gísli Örn Gardarsson (Ragnarok, Vultures) and Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir (The Valhalla Murders, Prisoners), founding members of Iceland’s leading talent collective and production house Vesturport.

The partners also co-star and share a production credit with Nana Alfredsdóttir, while Haraldsson and Gardarsson both co-direct with María Reyndal (Manners) and wrote the screenplay together with Mikael Torfason (Valhalla Murders). 

The key cast & crew comprises actors Guðjón Davíð Karlsson (Trapped, Let Me Fall), Unnur Ösp Stefánsdóttir (Trapped, Prisoners), cinematographer Hrafn Garðarsson, production designer Atli Geir Grétarsson (The Oath) and editor Kristján Loðmfjörð (Rams). 

Set between 1984 and 1991 in a small Icelandic fishing village, the eight-part series is based on true events. It delves into the complex world of Iceland's fishing quotas, associated with greed and corruption.

The story follows a group of friends who gradually build a small fishing empire. “Through the series, we witness the characters’ gradual change, from visionaries to suspicious players in a somewhat Shakespearian-inspired quest for power and control,” said Gardarsson in an earlier interview with us - CLICK HERE.

He goes on: “Black Port partly tells the story of how and why this [fishing quota] system was created and that is the undercurrent of the journey of our protagonists. But of course", he continues, "Black Port is also a much bigger series dealing with human drama in all its glory on every level. It is based on actual events, and the saying “you can’t make this up” is indeed mirrored in the way we bring our story forward. And if anything, it is very colourful and lively!”

Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson, Programme Director at RÚV said Black Port is one of the most exciting upcoming series for the Icelandic pubcaster on different levels. "It addresses the very important - and in many ways controversial - issue of the fishing quota system in Iceland and the effects and consequences it has had, not only on the economy, but even more so the society and community as a whole, its self-image, conscience and approach to life," he explains, adding:  

"Black Port is also an important contemporary period piece that tells so much about why and who we are as a nation. And although it is set during a political and social turmoil, this is very much a highly entertaining and eventful family saga about average people,” he notes. 

Alfredsdóttir and Gardarsson underline the early involvement  of co-producers ARTE France and the UK's Turbine Studios. “ARTE came officially onboard last year, but Alexandre Piel [Deputy Director of ARTE Fiction France] was the very first to approach us when we launched the project in Reykjavík at Scandinavian Screenings in 2017,” says Alfredsdóttir. “He has been with us every step since then and has been a huge factor in realising the project.”

Gardarsson adds: “Our collaboration with Andrew Eaton and Justin Thompson at Turbine Studios has also been key in establishing the firm ground for the project that we now stand on.”

The series was co-financed by DR, NRK, SVT, Yle, Lumiere Group in the Benelux, with support from the Icelandic Film Centre, as well as the Icelandic Ministry of Industries and Innovation.

Despite the Covid-19 outbreak, the Black Port team was able to start shooting on schedule last week, while abiding to Iceland’s health and social distancing regulations (including 2 meter distance rule and limit of public gatherings to 50 people). “We had to change the workflow both on and off set with a collective effort, and made it work, in accordance with the local guidelines,” notes Alfredsdóttir. 

Gardarsson stresses that temperature testing for everyone at the beginning of every day and “a colour coded set” creates a “very safe environment once you’ve been given the green light to enter the set.”

Filming around Reykjavik and in the Westfjords in Iceland will last until the end of August. 

Asked about the anticipated premiere on RÚV, Guðmundsson said: “If all goes to plan - and this understandably is a big if - we are hoping to schedule it early 2021."

A global distributor will be announced within the next couple of weeks. 

The series won the Series Mania Award at the Berlinale’s CoProSeries pitching event in 2018.

Photo caption ©Vesturport
From left: Skarphéðinn Guðmunsson (RUV), Nana Alfredsdóttir (producer), Gísli Örn Garðarsson (creator, producer, director, leading actor), Eiður Birgisson (line producer), Björn Hlynur Haraldsson (creator, producer, director, leading actor), Birgir Sigfússon (RUV), Stefán Eiríksson (RUV) and Nína Dögg in front (Creator, leading actress, producer)