VARIETY February 1, 2015 | By Elsa Keslassy
GOTEBORG, Sweden– Paris-based sales outfit Indie Sales has acquired Ali Abbasi’s feature debut “Shelley,” one of the projects pitched at Goteborg’s Nordic Film Market.
Hailing from the co-producers of Jonas Alexander Arnby’s “When Animals Dream,” the well-polished genre film boasts an international cast, headlined by Cosmina Stratan, who won the actress nod at Cannes for her role in “Beyond the Hills”; Ellen Dorrit Petersen, who won Norway’s Amanda award for her part in “Blind”; as well as Peter Christoffersen from “The Bridge.”
Script was penned by Abbasi and Maren Louise Käehne, whose credits include “Borgen” and “The Bridge.” Born in Iran, Abbasi moved to Sweden to study architecture at the Royal Academy of Science in Stockholm and later attended the Danish National Film School in film directing. He’s helmed two shorts: “The Box” and “M for Markus.”
Set in an isolated villa in the middle of the forest, “Shelley” revolves around Louise and Kasper, a Danish couple who are desperate to have a child and can’t have any. Their lives start to unravel when Louise seals a pact with her Romanian maid, Elena, for her to become a surrogate mother in exchange for a large amount of money. But as Elena’s pregnancy advances, an evil force emerges and destroys everything in its path.
“When we first read ‘Shelley’s’ script, we were immediately stunned; the characters, the atmosphere, the nightmare story… It has a sense of impeding doom and horror that will stay with you for days,” said Indie Sales boss Nicolas Eschbach, noting as well that “the film is also being carried by two extraordinary actresses, Cosmina Stratan and Ellen Dorrit Petersen.”
“Shelley” is produced by Jacob Jarek (co-producer of “Only God Forgives” and “When Animals Dream”), Thor Sigurjonsson (“Only God Forgives,” “Valhalla Rising”) and Ditte Milsted (“When Animals Dream”) for Profile Pictures, in association with Paris-based Backup Media, the shingle behind “Still Alice,” starring the Oscar-nommed Julianne Moore.
“Shelley” marks Indie Sales and Backup Media’s first collaboration — one that will likely be followed by many more tie-ups going forward, pointed out Backup Media co-founder Joel Thibout.
Pitched like a bold and atmospheric chiller, “Shelley” boasts a key crew that includes DP Sturla Brandth Grøvlen (“Victoria”) and Nadim Carlsen, vfx supervisor Peter Hjorth (“Melancholia”),editor Olivia Neergaard-Holm (“Victoria”), and production designer Dane Sabine Hviid (“When Animals Dream”) and Kristine Køster.
Launched less than two years ago by former TF1 Intl. boss, Nicolas Eschbach, Indie Sales has been fast-tracking Nordic talent.
“This new acquisition highlights, once again, our strong interest in Scandinavian cinema and confirms our willingness to build solid relationships with the most ambitious and talented producers,” said Eschbach.
Besides “Shelley,” Indie Sales is selling another Nordic Twilight title, Bo Mikkelsen’s “What We Become,” also pitched at Goteborg’s Nordic Film Market, as well as Finnish animated feature “Moomins on the Riviera. ”
Indie Sales will start pre-selling “Shelley” at Berlin with the script and a promo of the movie, whose delivery is expected in the second half of 2015.