Harald Zwart: From Karate Kid to Norwegian resistance hero
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Norwegian director Harald Zwart will direct 12th Man, which follows commando Jan Baalsrud’s escape from the Germans in occupied Norway during WW2
Norwegian Hollywood director Harald Zwart will return to local film production to direct 12th Man, a €6.8 million World War II epic about Norwegian commando Jan Baalsrud’s escape from the Germans in occupied Norway during the war. The Aage Aaberge production for Nordisk Film Production has received €1.6 million in support from the Norwegian Film Institute.
Dutch-born Zwart made his latest film in Norway – Long Flat Balls II – eight years ago; meanwhile, he has signed such movies as Karate Kid (2010) for Sony Pictures USA, which grossed more than $350 million. The first Norwegian member of the Directors Guild of America, he also directed The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013). He is currently in pre-production with the Keanu Reeves starrer Rally Car.
12th Man tells the story of Norwegian war hero Baalsrud’s legendary escape from Nazi Germany’s occupation forces: 12 Norwegian resistance fighters crossed the North Sea on a fishing boat from the Shetland Islands to sabotage the Nazis. Eleven were captured, tortured and killed by the enemy; only one – Baalsrud – managed to get away, to neutral Sweden.
Norwegian director Arne Skouen described Baalsrud’s deeds in his 1957 feature Nine Lives (with Jack Fjeldstad in the lead), which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign-language Film. 12th Man will shoot from a new script by Norwegian screenwriter Petter Skavlan, who also supplied the story for Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s Oscar-nominated Kon-Tiki [+see also:
film profile] (2012), which Aaberge produced. Kon-Tiki took 900,000 admissions in Norway and was sold to more than 120 countries.
The cast – including the actor set to breathe life into Baalsrud – is yet to be named, but Aaberge plans to start principal photography this spring and shoot the whole film in the Troms region (where the actual events took place) in collaboration with Norwegian regional film centre FilmCamp. 12th Man will be released in the Scandinavian countries in autumn 2017 by Nordisk Film Distribution.