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Sweden’s (and France’s) Zlatan is now scoring at the cinemas


- The Swedish Film Institute has chipped in for the funding of four full-length documentaries, including Fredrik and Magnus Gertten’s biopic on Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Sweden’s (and France’s) Zlatan is now scoring at the cinemas
Becoming Zlatan by Fredrik and Magnus Gertten

After five days on theatrical release with Sweden’s TriArt, Swedish directors Fredrik and Magnus Gertten’s documentary Becoming Zlatan – the biopic on Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, of Bosnian-Croatian descent – has passed 32,000 admissions.

Now, the Margarete Jangård and Lennart Ström production for WG Film has received production funding from the Swedish Film Institute, which has chipped in for four full-length documentaries. Most of the funding (€215,000) went to the story of Ibrahimovic, lifting the lid on his life before he became known as “Ibra” to most of the football world. He now plays for France’s PSG.

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Produced with Sweden’s Auto Images, with Key Docs for the Netherlands and Indyca Films for Italy, Becoming Zlatan closely follows the soccer player from his debut with Sweden’s Malmö FF up until his breakthrough with Italy’s Juventus in 2005. “You're nothing until you have succeeded internationally,” his father told him when he was 18.

The coming-of-age film, depicting the complicated journey of this young, talented and troubled player who finally becomes a superstar in the international football world, includes rare archive footage in which a young Zlatan speaks openly about his life and the challenges he has faced. It also features interviews with such football icons as Marco van Basten, Ronald Koeman and Fabio Capello.

The institute’s support package also covers Swedish director Julia Stanislawska’s Rikard, portraying Swedish actor-singer Rikard Wolff through the musical world of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel, and also investigating the phenomenon of “the fan”. How do you live your life as a man who is extremely admired, and how do you survive as an admirer? Stanislawska both wrote and will produce the film for her own company.

Swedish director Steffan Strandberg’s The Night is based on his own experiences of growing up with an alcoholic mother and includes 8 mm footage shot by his father. Seen through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy, and hinging on a night when everything changes, the film will be produced by Norway’s Indie Film (Carsten Aanonsen) and Sweden’s Fasad (Juan Pablo Libossart and Erik Gandini).

Finally, the institute supported Sweden’s AMP Film, the co-producer of British directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Notes on Blindness [+see also:
film review
interview: James Spinney, Peter Middle…
film profile
, from London’s Archer’s Mark. It is based on the audio diaries of UK theologian John Hull, who went totally blind in 1983 and who, in more than 16 hours of recordings over three years, delivered a testimony of loss, rebirth and renewal.

In the Nordic countries, documentaries are no longer attracting only niche audiences to the cinemas. In Norway, Margreth Olin’s Doing Good – about a man with extraordinary powers in the village of Snåsa, whom 50,000 people have come to see – has now exceeded 154,00 admissions. In Finland, Marko Röhr’s Tale of a Lake, about the myths, legends and old beliefs surrounding the thousands of lakes that Finland is known for, has so far sold 120,000 tickets, to become number six on the weekly charts.

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