The Killing’s iconic actress Sofie Gråbøl plays the title role in Scherfig’s first Danish-language project in 14 years. Beta Film handles world rights outside Scandinavia and Benelux.
The eight-part hospital series The Shift (Ellas vagt) produced by Creative Alliance's Malene Blenkov for TV2 Denmark, is the anticipated return on home turf of Lone Scherfig, one of Denmark’s most celebrated writer/directors, after several mainstream English-language films, including The Kindness of Strangers, One Day, An Education and the series The Astronaut’s Wives Club.
The TV show which just started filming in Copenhagen, is set in a contemporary maternity ward. The main characters work “in a venue of extreme drama, full of suspense, shame, guilt and inadequacies, but also a world of triumphs, trust, love and unfathomable bliss”, according to a statement.
The central character Ella (Sofie Gråbøl), runs the maternity ward, and every day, together with her colleagues, she meets and helps a generation of young women give birth.
Asked about her choice to tackle full on a hospital series as showrunner, Scherfig told nordicfilmandtvnews.com: “The hospital is an extraordinary setting, not only for characters with very strong values and experiences, but also for meeting a new generation of future parents who come in and within few hours go through the most extreme, painful, loving and often wildly happy moments of their lives.”
“My ambition is for the series to possess quality and emotion, but still contribute to the narrative of our society, both politically and humanly,” she explained, stressing that the series will be altogether relevant, moving and occasionally witty.”
Regarding the main characters and story arc, the director of Italian for Beginners said: “Ella, played by Sofie Gråbøl, heads a brand new, state-of-the-art maternity ward, but is under a constant, massive pressure. The department is undermanned, the daily life unpredictable. Around her is a man, she does not know she loves, colleagues she is deeply connected to and afraid to lose, and her mother, who works at the hospital as well. Every day, new young parents enter the ward, each birth is different, and reflecting the main characters, whose secrets are revealed throughout the season.”
Scherfig said besides concept director Søren Balle (The Rain), and guest director Ole Christian Madsen (Banshee, Superclásico), her creative team also takes in six screenwriters, a number of professional advisors, experienced actors (to be announced) and carefully-chosen newcomers. “I try to listen to everyone, not least the experts, who contribute to the authenticity and detail, and to the drama,” she said.
TV 2 Denmark's Head of Drama Katrine Vogelsang is pleased to collaborate with one of the preeminent names in Danish fiction. ”Our ambition at TV 2 is to make the best fiction, and Lone Scherfig can do that. She is the right person to lead such a large and ambitious public service story about one of the cornerstones of our society, namely healthcare. Lone Scherfig can make it dramatic, authentic, humorous, touching and life-affirming, creating stories in which we can all see ourselves,” said Vogelsang.
Beta Film’s Anais de Neergaard, VP International Sales & Acquisitions Scandinavia underlines Scherfig’s new ‘Nordic Light’ approach. “The Shift will bring the atmosphere and suspense from the Nordic dramas we all fell in love with, and add an uplifting, inspirational flair,” she said.
Creative Alliance producing the show is run by Lone Scherfig with producer Malene Blenkov and director Ole Christian Madsen.
The series received support from Nordisk Film & TV Fond and the Danish Film Institute’s Public Service Fund. It was pre-sold to C More/TV4 in Sweden, Yle in Finland and TV2 Norway.
The premiere on TV2 Denmark and TV2 Play is set for 2022.