Rotterdam Film Festival, an ardent supporter of independent filmmaking and a launch platform for young talent, has announced the titles for its prestigious Hivos Tiger Awards Competition.
Among the 13 films by first and second-time feature directors is Jeppe Rønde's first feature fiction film, "Bridgend," based on a mysterious suicide cluster a few years back in a former coal mining province in South Wales: Between 2007 and 2012 seventy-nine suicides were committed in Bridgend County. Most of the victims were teenagers. They hanged themselves and left no suicide notes.
"Bridgend" follows Sara (Hannah Murray) and her dad Dave (Steven Waddington) as they move to a small village which is haunted by suicides among its young inhabitants. Sara falls dangerously in love with one of the teenagers, Jamie (Josh O'Connor), while Dave, as the town's new policeman, tries to stop the mysterious chain of suicides. The film focuses on the relationship between vulnerable teenagers and their parents who are left in the dark as the inexplicable suicides gradually take on the character of a punishing ritual.
Director Jeppe Rønde followed the teenagers in the area for six years and wrote the script based on their life stories. The film is entirely shot on location in Wales, with many of the local teenagers cast as actors.
"Bridgend" marks Rønde's fiction film debut. Originally a maker of documentaries, he is the director of "Jerusalem, My Love" (2004), selected for IDFA's First Appearance Competition, and "The Swenkas" (2005), which was nominated for IDFA's Joris Ivens Award and won a Special Jury Prize at Toronto Hot Docs.
"Bridgend" is produced by Michel Schønnemann and Malene Blenkov for Blenkov & Schønnemann Pictures, who is also handling international sales. The film is supported by the Danish Film Institute's talent programme New Danish Screen.
Previous Danish winners of the Tiger Competition include "Go With Peace Jamil" by Omar Shargawi, "AFR" by Morten Hartz Kaplers, and "Bye Bye Blue Bird" van Katrin Ottarsdottír.
More films in this year's line-up will be announced shortly. The full programme is available by 14 January.