Skimming production announcements sitting in my inbox today, was this Danish production directed by Daniel Dencik, titled “Gold Coast,” starring Jakob Oftebro.
The story, which is based on real events, and which tells “a dark, now almost forgotten chapter of European history,” is about the illegal Danish slave trade, set in the 1830’s, as Dane Wulff Joseph Wulff arrives in Africa – specifically, the “Gold Coast,” what is now Ghana, in West Africa – to set up plantations. While there, he naturally falls in love with a slave girl, despite the fact that he has a fiancee at home in Denmark. And with the young slave girl’s help, he exposes the corruption of the slave trade.
The film, partly based on Wulff’s letters and diary notes, is currently shooting in Ghana for about 7 weeks, with some opening scenes to be filmed in Copenhagen.
Jakob Oftebro is playing the lead – Wulff. No word on the name of the actress playing the young slave girl he falls in love with in Ghana, but my research tells me that the character’s name was Sara Malm, originally called Tim Tam. She belonged to the Ga tribe. It was during his first year in Accra, that Wulff Joseph Wulff began his relationship with her. While Wulff Joseph Wulff never referred to her as his wife, their relationship is referred to as a marriage in writings about them, as he apparently treated her as if she was his wife.
They had 3 children together.
Wulff would die in Ghana, and was buried there, on the basement floor of his house. His family is said to be well respected with the Ga people – a family legacy that lives on after 7 generations.
It is also noted that Wulff Joseph Wulff was a slave owner himself, by the way.
When I find out the name of the actress playing Sara Malm/Tim Tam, in the film, I’ll update this post.
Sadly, this is not a real-life story that I can claim to be familiar with. I did learn of the existence of a 2003 book on Wulff Joseph Wulff, written by Selena Axelrod Winsnes, titled “A Danish Jew in West Africa: Wulf Joseph Wulff Biography And Letters 1836-1842.” It’s available for sale via resellers on Amazon.
Its description reads:
Wulff’s life history is of considerable interest in itself. In her biographical essay (Part I) Selena Axelrod Winsnes portrays him as a ‘marginal man’: being a Jew in Denmark at the beginning of the 19th century was to some extent an uphill struggle for those who sought public recognition, and Wulff did not escape discrimination in his administrative career at Christiansborg either, although special circumstances allowed him to hold important positions, and yet, only for the short term. Paradoxically, on his arrival to the Gold Coast Wulff – as a Jew – was placed in a middle position in the racial hierarchy dominating the mind-set of his superiors in Copenhagen between Africans and Europeans. In many respects he shared the fate of Euro-Africans, straddling two worlds and being ‘sealed off’ from the top echelons of the European establishments on the Coast. This book comprises two parts. The first is a biographical presentation of Wulff Joseph Wulff , a Danish Jew. It is an essay concerning the last six years of his life, spent on the Gold Coast of West Africa, based on letters he wrote to his family in Denmark. Those letters were published in 1917 as Da Guinea var Dansk [When Guinea was Danish], by Carl Behrens, a member of his family in Denmark. The second part of the book is an edited translation of the letters from Danish into English.
Michael Haslund-Christensen is producing for Haslund Film.
The film is supported by the Danish Film Institute, and release is set for 2015.
The above photo is a still from the set.