Before Betrayed, Marius Holst had secretly been shooting Congo
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- The film was being kept under wraps while one of the real-life characters depicted in the story was still in prison, but now he has been released
While it was recently announced that Norwegian director Marius Holst’s next film after King of Devil’s Island [+see also:
film profile] (2010) would be the Norwegian World War II Holocaust drama Betrayed (see the news), he has already been shooting another feature, Congo [+see also:
film profile]. The Norwegian Film Institute chipped in €1.5 million for the Christian Fredrik Martin and Asle Vatn production for Friland Production in September 2016, but since one of the real-life characters depicted in the story was still imprisoned in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the support was not made public.
“The film is based on tragic, real-life events – a man was brutally killed while at work in the Congolese jungle. Two young Norwegian men – his employers – were convicted of the murder. Only one of them is still alive, and he is marked for life,” explained the institute’s executive director of Production and Development, Sveinung Golimo.
Scripted by Norwegian screenwriter Nikolaj Frobenius – who once visited both Norwegians in their cells – the film follows Joshua French and Tjostolv Moland, who ventured into eastern DR Congo in the spring of 2009. After a couple of days, their driver was killed, and following a chase through the jungle, they were captured and sentenced to death for espionage and the murder of their driver. Congo also demanded US $500 million in compensation from Norway. After four years in prison, Moland was found dead, and French was accused of murdering him. Norwegian diplomats worked on the “Congo case” for several years, and on 17 May, the 35-year-old Norwegian was finally released after eight years “for humanitarian and health reasons”, according to the office of the Congolese President – and he is now back in Norway.
According to Norwegian pubcaster NRK, most of Congo has already been filmed in South Africa, with Norwegian actors Aksel Hennie and Tobias Santelmann in the leads. “After comprehensive research, all the known facts have been used for Congo, which will take the audience on an epic journey based on these incredible true events,” said Holst.
“This existential and delirious drama of wildness, violence and imprisonment, but also guilt, atonement and compassion, takes a different approach to one of the biggest media stories in Norway in the past decade,” Golimo concluded. Friland is co-producing the film with, among others, Norway’s Nordisk Film, Germany’s Pandora Film, Denmark’s Nimbus Film, Sweden’s Garagefilm and regional film centre Film i Väst.
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