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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Belgium / Italy / the Netherlands / Bulgaria / Armenia

Jessica Woodworth is adapting Dino Buzzati’s masterpiece to give us Fortress

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- The director is offering up a rereading of The Tartar Steppe which she is currently shooting in Sicily and which stars Jonas Smulders and Geraldine Chaplin in its cast

Jessica Woodworth is adapting Dino Buzzati’s masterpiece to give us Fortress
(l-r) Actors Jan Bijvoet and Samvel Tadevosyan, director Jessica Woodworth and actors Jonas Smulders, Django Schrevens and Goua Grovogui on the set of Fortress (© Bo Films)

Fortress will see filmmaker Jessica Woodworth offering up a highly personal and contemporary adaptation of Dino Buzzati’s masterpiece The Tartar Steppe.

The film tells the story of Luka, a young and ambitious soldier who joins a regiment stationed in an isolated fortress to take on a legendary enemy hailing from the North… After a gruelling trek through the desert which sees him arriving wild-eyed and haggard at the gates of the fortress, Luka discovers, as he’s getting back on his feet, that the stronghold doesn’t quite live up to its legend. It’s managed by a team of highly eccentric soldiers who impose rules bordering on the absurd onto each and every one of them.

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Stepping in front of the camera, we find young Dutch actor Jonas Smulders (recently seen in the film Paradise Drifters [+see also:
trailer
interview: Bilal Wahib
film profile
]
, not to mention the latest winner of Cannes’ Caméra d’Or Murina [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović
interview: Gracija Filipovic
film profile
]
) who is set to play Luka, while Geraldine Chaplin (who already made an impression in the director’s previous film The Barefoot Emperor [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jessica Woodworth
film profile
]
) will play the part of the fortress’s General. They’re joined by an equally international cast, including Armenia’s Samvel Tadevosyan, Belgian actors Jan Bijvoet (known for his role in Borgman [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Alex van Varmerdam
interview: Reinout Scholten van Aschat
film profile
]
and recently seen in the Netflix series Into the Night), Sam Louwyck (recently seen in Jumbo [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Zoé Wittock
film profile
]
and Memory House [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
), Django Schrevens, Goua Grovogui and Bruno Georis, Italian talent Hal Yamanouchi, Kevin Lettieri and Mimmo Cuticchio, and Bulgaria’s Valentin Ganev.

This will be Jessica Woodworth’s first solo directorial effort, given that her previous films (Khadak [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jessica Woodworth
interview: Jessica Woodworth
film profile
]
, selected for Venice’s Giornate degli Autori and awarded the Luigi De Laurentiis Lion of the Future Prize; Altiplano [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, selected for Cannes’ Critics’ Week; The Fifth Season [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jessica Woodworth
film profile
]
, which competed in Venice; King of the Belgians [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jessica Woodworth, Peter Br…
film profile
]
, screened in Venice’s Orizzonti line-up; and The Barefoot Emperor, selected for Toronto) were all co-directed by Peter Brosens.

The latter is acting as producer of the present film by way of his company Bo Films, alongside co-producers Beluga Tree (managed by Diana Elbaum in Brussels), Krater Films (in Ghent), Palosanto Films (Italy), Volya Films (the Netherlands), Art Fest (Bulgaria) and Dokino (Armenia).

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(Translated from French)

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