Danish Academy Award-winning directors Bille August’s Silent Heart [+], which on Saturday (27 September) won Danish actress Paprika Steen a Silver Shell for Best Actress at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, and Susanne Bier’s A Second Chance [+], also in competition, have both proven to be hot tickets for Danish international sales agencies LevelK and TrustNordisk, respectively.
The first Danish awards in the Basque city since Connie Nielsen and Ulrich Thomsen took home Best Actress and Actor for Bier’s Brothers [+] in 2004 came on top ofSilent Heart contracts for Spain (with Golem), Brazil (California Filmes) and Korea (Jin Jin), among others, following presales to Benelux (Wild Bunch), Taiwan (Atom), Hungary (Cirko) and Australia (Madman).
“Buyers praised it for its masterful tackling of a tricky topic, calling it a beautiful and strong film, without being sentimental; it deals with themes and issues of universal appeal with humour,” explained Tine Klint, CEO of LevelK.
Scripted by Christian Torpe (Rita), Silent Heart depicts the weekend when three generations of a family gather to say goodbye to Esther – their wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and friend – who is terminally ill and wants to die before the disease gets any worse.
As the weekend progresses, they realise that their acceptance of her decision is difficult to handle; Ghita Nørby (also in his The Best Intentions, from Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s screenplay) plays the materfamilias, and she is joined by Danica Curcic and Pilou Asbæk.
Following Marie Krøyer [+] (2011), Silent Heart is August’s second film in Denmark after Pelle the Conqueror (1987), which won the Oscar for Best Foreign-language Feature. Produced by Jesper Morthorst for SF Film Production, it will be launched in Denmark on 11 November by SF Film.
Bier’s 14th feature has so far been licensed to 134 countries, most recently to France (KMBO) and the UK (Vertigo); it was co-scripted by Anders Thomas Jensen, who also co-wrote her In a Better World [+] (2011) – the winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign-language Film.
“The universal themes in Bier’s films connect with distributors and audiences all over the world, and this is no exception. With signed contracts and ongoing negotiations for the US, we are close to sold out,” said Rikke Ennis, CEO of TrustNordisk, who also presented the film in competition at Toronto.
Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Maria Bonnevie, A Second Chance follows two police detectives and best friends with totally different lives: Andreas has settled down with his wife and son, while Simon spends most of his time getting drunk.
One day, they are called to a domestic dispute between a junkie couple, and they find the pair’s infant son crying and hungry. Andreas finds himself confronted with his own powerlessness and is shaken to his core – now it is up to Simon to restore the balance between right and wrong.
The €4.7 million production was staged by regular Bier producer Sisse Graum Jørgensenfor Zentropa Entertainments, with Zentropa International Sweden. It will be released domestically on 15 January by Nordisk Film Biografdistribution.