SF Studios Teams With ‘Project Z’ Director on Spanish Flu Horror Film (EXCLUSIVE)

SF Studios is joining forces with prolific Norwegian filmmaker Henrik M. Dahlsbakken (“Project Z,” “An Affair”) and the banner FilmBros on “Possession,” a horror film set during the Spanish flu in 1918.

The film, which portrays the terrifying events following a pastor’s actions in a small Sami village, is being handled by REinvent International Sales and will be distributed in the Nordics by SF Studios.

Exploring themes of faith and doubt amid a pandemic, “Possession” opens in 1918, as World War I is coming to an end and the Spanish flu is ravaging populations. A pastor returns home to his family in Norway to start a congregation, after several years as a missionary in Madagascar. With the help of a local mining company, he starts the work of building a church, but the place turns out to be an old South Sami burial ground. When it is decided that the remains should be removed, an indefinable evil begins to haunt the settlers.

The film sheds light on how the Sami were treated by the Norwegian society around the beginning of the last century. One of the main characters of “Possession” is a Sami girl who was adopted at a young age and is now being thrown out on an identity journey.

“This project is close to heart for me, and undoubtedly the most ambitious I have ever done,” said Dahlsbakken, whose credits include the Nordic hits “Another Happy Christmas” and “An Affair,” as well as the genre pic “Project Z,” which is currently playing in Norwegian theaters.

“The South Sami culture has rarely been portrayed, and in ‘Possession’ we also explore a supernatural aspect. How we humans can find our inner flame in the face of oppression and injustice,” added the helmer.

“Possession” is headlined by Norwegian star Jan Sælid (“Curling King”) and 10-year-old newcomer Eva Nergård from Tromsø. The main cast also includes Tarjei Sandvik Moe (“An Affair”), Dennis Storhøi (“The Heavy Water War”), Benjamin Helstad (“King of Devil’s Island”), Nina Ellen Ødegård (“Tottori”), Alfred Ekker Strande (“Blank”) and Ellen Dorrit Petersen (“Blind”). The shooting took place in the Røros area in the Inland.

“‘Possession’ was a tough joy to record. A period horror with western elements, about the white man’s oppression of Indigenous peoples,” said Sandvik Moe, who plays the lead role in the movie. “There is a touch of Bergman and Ibsen in the visual combination of the realistic and the symbolic, the duality that exists in all the characters, while the film has a tremendous entertainment factor.”

The film marks SF Studios’s third collaboration with Dahlsbakken in the last three years. Yaba Holst, the head of Nordic Acquisition at SF Studios, said Dahlsbakken “always takes his audience on a cinematic road trip with unknown destination.”

Helene Aurø, sales and marketing director at Reinvent, pointed out “there is generally good demand for genre films, and we are already experiencing great interest in the film internationally.”

“Possession” is being produced by FilmBros, with support from Filminvest and the Norwegian Film Institute. It will premiere in theaters Norway in February 2022.

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