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PRODUCTION Netherlands

Dutch ice-skating tale starts filming in Latvia

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Dutch ice-skating tale starts filming in Latvia

Shooting has started in Latvia on the Dutch sports films De hel van ‘63 (“The Hell of ‘63”), set during the infamous 1963 outdoor ice-skating race that was plagued by extreme weather and bad luck. The film has Steven de Jong, director of the successful Kameleon films, at the helm.

Filming will continue on location in Latvia until early next week, when cast and crew will move to Friesland, the northern province where the actual race took place, for a week, before going to Lapland Province in northern Finland until the end of March. The shoot will wrap with two more weeks in Friesland in early April.

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The “elfstedentocht” is a speed-skating race of over almost 200 kilometres, on the canals, rivers and lakes that connect eleven cities in Friesland. It is not held every winter because often the ice is not thick enough to support the many participants. The last time the race was held was in 1997.

The 1963 edition took place despite the extreme weather conditions (minus 18 degrees Celsius, strong winds and blizzards) and only 69 of over 9,000 participants made it to the finish line. The film will focus on four of them: a soldier, a factory worker, a farmer’s son and a nurse. They will be played by Cas Janssen, Lourens van den Akker, Chris Zegers and Chava voor in ‘t Holt, respectively.

Hel should be ready for a release in December, to tie in with the 100th anniversary of the first edition of the infamous race. The film is being produced by the director’s Steven de Jong Producties in co-production with Catholic Dutch broadcaster KRO. Bridge Entertainment Group will handle distribution through RCV.

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