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Göteborg TV Drama Vision Unveils Lineup: Disney’s ‘To Cook a Bear’, SVT/Arte’s ‘Faithless’ in Works in Progress (EXCLUSIVE)

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Passion and Perseverance, the two watchwords at this year’s TV Drama Vision in Göteborg will resonate across this year’s program where a record 700 delegates will take the pulse of what’s hot and upcoming from the Nordics and Europe.

Unfolding parallel to the Göteborg Film Festival, the Nordics’ biggest TV drama showcase and networking event will run Jan 30-31.

“This is what we need!” said TV Drama Vision honcho Cia Edström about the passion infused in the 60-plus series to be showcased – and about perseverance in the industry, to be debated by the 100 guest speakers – including U.S. streaming giants Netflix, Disney+– first time on-stage – Amazon and all key Nordic commissioners.

“Times are tough-not only in the Nordics but internationally. Our industry is going through profound changes,” she said, citing the microeconomic headwinds impacting drama investors’ coin, artificial intelligence, the halt in production-triggered among others by Hollywood strikes, and Viaplay’s Nordic drama commissioning demise which has contributed to lay-offs in the sector. “But we have to find solutions, look at the bright side.”

“Peak TV has created [a lot of] fantastic talent. We can see this in the shows on display here and the flurry of projects in development. The drama bubble might have burst, but what’s left is a pool of talent that the industry needs to support and nourish. But I am optimistic,” she said while running through the 2024 TV Drama Vision program, “very much created by the industry,” she recalled.

Spotlight on Sweden

Some of the biggest standout series selected this year will be coming from host country Sweden. “Strangely enough, we’ve never done a focus on Sweden, but it felt natural to do so, considering the number of event dramas in production and ready to screen,” Edström said.

The five star-stubbed Swedish series to be showcased as works in progress are all based on books or well-known IPs. Two of those are penned by or adapt a book by “The Bridge” creator Hans Rosenfeldt, respectively the long-awaited “Ronja the Robber’s Daughter” and “Cry Wolf.” Meanwhile, Disney+ will unveil its first Nordic original, “To Cook a Bear,” and the dramedy “Whiskey on the Rocks,” from “Midsummer” helmer Björn Stein and writer Henrik Jansson-Schweizer, co-ordered by SVT.

Swedish pubcaster SVT will also sneak-peek “Faithless,” Tomas Alfredson’s TV version of Ingmar Bergman and Lena Endre’s 2000 pic, co-produced by Franco-German network Arte.

Faithless
Credit: Johan Paulin

Among the five spotlighted Nordic series in development, three are period pieces: “Tivoli” from TV2 Denmark is a period drama about racial prejudice set in 1910 at the Copenhagen Tivoli amusement park. “The Swedish Muse” turns to 1760s wild entertainment life in Stockholm; Norway’s “Requiem for Selina” from NRK is a historical drama about the makings of the influencer industry.

Meanwhile Iceland “which had a slower production period last year,” says Edström,” is back in force with two series: the Finnish co-produced crime drama “Hildur,” penned by “The Paradise”s’ Matti Laine, and the male unholy trinity friendship “Haze,” from “Trapped” showrunner Sigurjón Kjartansson.

Another five European series in development will be pitched by their creators: Turkey’s “The Amazons of Istanbul,” Estonia’s “Behind the Iron Curtain,” Germany’s “Disgrace” and Poland’s “Kilwater”, while Beta Film will reveal clips of its sumptuous Dutch royal drama “Máxima”.

The Sunshine Stories session will profile three European shows that “benefitted” from their earlier TV Drama Vision pitches, says Edström: “This is Not Sweden” from Spain’s Nanouk Film and Funicular Films and Anagram Sweden; “Those Who Stayed” from Ukraine’s FILM.UA and “Fusion” from Iceland’s ACT4.

Many more Nordic projects to watch out will be unveiled by U.S. giants Netflix, Amazon (“they are at the top and, yes, they are commissioning,” says Edström), Finnish commercial group MTV, pubcaster Yle, leading streamer Elisa Viihde, and TV 2 Denmark. 

Sticking together

As a mirror to new business setups to defy the major streamers and gain visibility with event series, two pan-Nordic and European broadcasters’ alliances launched this fall will outline their strategies and projects: the Scandi Alliance-reuniting TV2 Denmark, TV2 Norway, TV4 Sweden, and the New8 joint venture between eight top European public services.

“The staging [at TV Drama Vision] of various European and Nordic collaborations is something that came organically, as co-productions are more interesting than a couple of years ago,” argued Edström, “and people are basically inventing new alliances as we speak,” she pointed out. 

While the Focus on Flanders will drill down into new Nordic co-production opportunities with the region, the panel ‘Inside the Web of Future European Financing’ will shed light on drama investment plans from French groups Mediawan, Wildside and Finnish venture capital fund IPR.VC.

Powered creative industry insights should come from Netflix’s “Kleo” showrunning trio the HaRiBos, set to dissect their collaborative modus operandi, but also from panellists Lisa Ambjörn (“Young Royals”’ creator), Sened Dhab (France Télévisions) and Henriette Marienlund (DR Drama), invited to discuss “how to crack the code of Gen Z.” 

Looking into the future, several panels will focus on AI developments, while media analysts Johanna Koljonen – author of the Nostradamus report – and Ampere Analysis’ Guy Bisson will deliver their much anticipated insightful views on market challenges in 2024 and beyond.

As announced earlier in Variety, “Happy Valley” star Sarah Lancashire will also take centre stage, in conversation with senior Swedish drama executive Lars Blomgren of Media Res, and five Nordic series will compete from the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize for best screenplay of a Nordic drama series. Its awards will be handed out Jan. 30.

To Cook a Bear (BTS)
Credit: Marcel Koppe

A short drill down on the five Swedish works in progress:

“To Cook A Bear” (working title), directed by Trygve Allister Diesen, written by Jesper Harrie, produced by Mia Welin (Anagram Sweden) for Disney+.

“Ronja the Robber’s Daughter” written by Hans Rosenfeldt, directed by Lisa James Larsson, produced by Bonnie Skoog Feeney & Mattias Arehn (Filmlance International). Sales: Viaplay Content Distribution.

“Cry Wolf” written by Oskar Söderlund, directed by Jesper Ganslandt, produced by Josefine Tengblad & Eiffel Mattsson (Nordic Drama Queens) for TV4 & ZDF. International sales:  Fifth Season.

“Whiskey on the Rocks” written by Henrik Jansson-Schweizer, directed by Björn Stein, produced by Jan Marnell (Skyverse) for SVT and Disney+.

“Faithless” written by Sara Johnsen, directed by Saskia Diesing, produced by Christian Rank, Peter Bose & Jonas Allen (Miso Film) for SVT & Arte. Sales: Fremantle.

Five Nordic series in development:

“Tivoli” (6X40 minutes, Denmark), written by Anna Neye, produced by Trin Hjortkjær Thomsen & Camilla Hammerich for Nordisk Film Production and broadcaster TV2 Denmark.
Dreaming of a better life than being exhibited as exotica in Tivoli, a popular amusement park in Copenhagen, the siblings Rigmor and Peter reach for the stars in the vibrant silent film business. Told from an African Danish perspective, drama series “Tivoli” is about becoming fully human in a context of racial prejudice and social (im)mobility in Denmark around 1910. A piece of history yet untold.

“The Swedish Muse” (6 x 30 minutes, Sweden), written by Jessika Jankert and Lovisa Löwhagen, produced by Frida Hallberg for Cinenic Film/Fox in the Snow Films.
In an attempt to escape poverty, Maja invents the alter ego “Ulla Winblad” and becomes the center of the wild entertainment life of 1760s Stockholm. The musician Carl Michael Bellman begins to write songs about her and the line between reality and myth is blurred. Ulla goes from being celebrated to being ridiculed: Maja will spend the rest of her life fighting to get rid of the name.

“Haze” (eight 50 minute episodes, Iceland), written by Sigurjon Kjartansson, David Mar Stefansson, Gagga Jonsdottir; produced by Erlingur Jack for S800 and broadcaster RÚV.
“Haze” tells the story of three childhood friends from a small Icelandic town. One of them is now the CEO of a big pharmaceutical company, another is a doctor and a third a drug dealer. For 25 years, this unholy trinity has kept to themselves, but now it’s time for a comeback.

“Requiem for Selina” (six part, 40 minute episodes, Norway), created by Emmeline Berglund, produced by Ingunn Rensel for Anti and broadcaster NRK.
A historical drama about the makings of the influencer industry, inspired by true events. Memoirs of the very first beauty blogger, telling the story of the bullied girl she used to be in the early 2000s, and how she avenged herself on the world by becoming the country’s most dangerous role model and the mother of all unrealistic beauty standard-fuck ups.

“Hildur” (Iceland/Finland), lead-written by Finland’s Matti Laine, with Iceland’s Margret Örnolfsdottir; produced by Take Two Studios (Finland), Sagafilm (Iceland), Story House (Germany).
Story about those who inhabit the North and do what they must to survive, each in their own way. Suffering may be close at hand, but “Hildur” shows that closeness to others is also our greatest source of strength.

Cia Edström
Credit: Linda Gester