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‘So Damn Easy Going’ Producers Bet on Double Female Debuts (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 8/12/2022 Annika Pham
© Credit: Ola Kjelbye

Göteborg-based Cinenic Film, headed by Annika Hellström and Erika Malmgren, has a flawless track record in backing debut directors with global breakthrough potential.

Their roster takes in Ísold Uggadóttir (“And Breathe Normally”), Gorki Glaser-Müller (“Children of the Enemy”) and most recently Christoffer Sandler, whose fiction debut “So Damn Easy Going” opened the last Göteborg Film Festival and is now heading off to the Norwegian Film Festival in Haugesund (Aug. 20-26).

Cinenic will also be in Haugesund with its latest young filmmaking recruits, Angelika Abramovitch and Minka Jakerson and their respective feature debuts “The Braid” and “The Soft Skin,” to be pitched at the Nordic Co-production Market, part of Haugesund confab New Nordic Films (Aug. 23-26).

The Crimean-born Swede Abramovitch competed in Clermont Ferrand with her graduation film from Stockholm’s Academy of the Arts “Catcave Hysteria” and was picked for the Future Frames next generation showcase in Karlovy Vary in July.

Her directorial debut, the horror pic “The Braid,” is penned by Joen Heed Windahl with seasoned writer Jessika Jankert (Viaplay’s “Hammarvik”) and Theodor Österberg, who earned a best foreign language prize at the 2021 British short film awards for “A Swedish Defence”.

“We want the best possible horror script for this scary and tight drama,” said Malmgren about “The Braid.” originally conceived by Windahl from his own experience of living with a mentally ill mother.

In the pic, 11-year-old Ida has a close connection to her mother Karin, who lives isolated in Northern Swede’s deep forests. But she starts to fear that her mentally-troubled mother has become possessed by “the Mara”, a creature from Swedish folklore.

For Malmgren and Hellström, horror fan Abramovitch will bring in her own artistic ambition and talent. “She dares to dive into disturbing emotions and transform them into a cinematic language,” they observed.

So far the €3 million ($3 million) project has received backing from Creative Europe, the Swedish Film Institute, Lindholmen Science Park in Göteborg. Cinenic producers are in talks with a Norwegian co-producer and are looking for a third co-production partner for VFX and post-production. Filming in Sweden is slated for the fall 2023.

Meanwhile the €1.8 million ($1.8 million) “The Soft Skin” is a drama thriller co-written by helmer Minka Jakerson, Mona Masri (a “Snabba Cash” storyline consultant) and Adam Starsmark. Jakerson’s short film “The Yearning Room” (2013), also produced by Cinenic, bowed in competition at the Berlinale’s Generation 14+.

“Minka, who was trained as a cinematographer, has a tactile approach to filmmaking and builds intense atmospheres in her works,” Hellström states.

Set in a rural community on decline, the story revolves around a symbiotic father-daughter relationship, which is threatened when Anna asks her dad, a police officer, to help her save a family of refugees from being deported.

The project will be lensed by multi-awarded Sophia Olsson (“The Charmer”, “Sparrows”) who worked on Jakerson’s “The Yearning Room”.

The Cinenic founders are teaming up again with Danish co-producers on “Children of the Enemy,” Morten Kaufmann (credited for several Thomas Vinterberg pics including “The Hunt”) and Signe Leick Jensen of Toolbox Film. Development is being funded by Creative Europe, the Swedish Film Institute, The Swedish Arts Grants Committee, and the City of Göteborg.

Hellström and Malmgren are hoping to start filming next Winter and will be looking for co-financiers, sales and distribution at New Nordic Films.

Cinenic’s slate also includes the documentary “The Andersson Brothers” about celebrated Swedish auteur Roy Andersson and his three brothers. The project is in production and helmed by Andersson’s niece and former co-worker Johanna Bernhardson.

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