After two US features – Safe House (2012) and Child 44 (2015) – Swedish directorDaniel Espinosa, who also made the 2010 Swedish blockbuster Easy Money, will direct a new adaptation of Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg’s 1950 classic The Emigrants, Jan Troell’s 1971 version of which was nominated for five Oscars and won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign-language Film.The project was unveiled yesterday (16 May) at the Cannes International Film Festival: with a screenplay by Norwegian scriptwriter Petter Skavlan (Kon-Tiki, 2012), it will be staged for Swedish major Svensk Filmindustri (SF), Tre Vänner Produktion and Swedish regional film centre Film i Väst by SF production chief Fredrik Wikström Nicastro.
“It is a project that I’ve dreamt of realising for many years, and I am extremely pleased that we are now about to embark on this journey,” said Wikström Nicastro, who also produced Easy Money. “It is reassuring to once again work with Espinosa, who after our last collaboration has become one of the world’s most sought-after directors, and it’s also great to have Skavlan on board.”
The Emigrants is set in the 1850s and tells the story of Kristina and her husband, Karl-Oskar, who decide to leave their small, rural village in Småland, southern Sweden, to emigrate to America. Determined to flee poverty, religious persecution and social oppression, they head across the Atlantic in search of a better life. The journey on the sailing ship is long and tedious.
“I wouldn’t have accepted the challenge of walking in Troell’s footsteps, had it not been for the alarming topicality that Moberg’s novel still has,” explained Espinosa. “Today, the Mediterranean is filled with boats and life stories: someone – now as then – makes a decision to try to give his or her children a better life. Someone makes a decision not to accept the ticket that he or she has drawn.”
Principal photography for The Emigrants is scheduled to start in 2017 in the Västra Götaland region of western Sweden, with a Swedish premiere set for 2018.