First Feature The Charmer in Production

IN PRODUCTION. Milad Alami recently wrapped shooting in Copenhagen on his first feature, "The Charmer," a drama about an outsider under tremendous psychological strain. Release is set for release some time next year.

Good Company Films is behind the production of "The Charmer" by first-time feature director Milad Alami. The film wrapped principal photography in Copenhagen a couple of weeks ago and the editing is now in full swing. At Good Company Films' offices in Copenhagen, the team is planning the last days of shooting, which will take place in the Middle East early next year.

Good Company Films is one of a number of small, but strong, companies these days that are breaking with habitual thinking • Marie Schmidt Olesen

"A stranger is seeking a better life but is haunted by his past." That’s how director Milad Alami describes his first feature, a psychological drama about an Iranian man, Esmail, whose time in Denmark is running out. Desperately trying to find a Danish girlfriend who will help his cause, he unexpectedly falls in love with a young student of Persian origin. While she offers to help, a man who has suffered the consequences of Esmail’s search for a better life catches up with him and puts everything Esmail has been fighting for in jeopardy.

Alami was born in Iran, grew up in northern Sweden and has been living in Denmark since 2007. The director was always fascinated by stories of outsiders under psychological strain, which also shows in his short films. Alami finished his training at the National Film School of Denmark in 2011 with his graduation film "Nothing Can Touch Me" and later directed the shorts "Mini" and the Robert Award-winning "Mommy." Moreover, he was one of the two co-directors of the short film "Void," which premiered in Directors' Fortnight at Cannes.

Creative Trio of director, producer, writer

It’s no coincidence that Good Company Films is producing Alami’s feature. Producer Stinna Lassen was in his class at film school and also produced his graduation film. Lassen produced the TV series "The Team" for Nordisk Film in 2013-14 and co-founded Good Company Films in 2014. "The Charmer" is the company’s first Danish feature film project to go into production. For years, it has been Lassen’s ambition to work with some of the newer directing talents. She successfully started her production company on that background, as have several other recent Danish production graduates.

Ingeborg Topsøe, who is a graduate of the Film & Television School in England, wrote the screenplay in close collaboration with Alami. It is her first feature, while she also has several shorts under her belt, including the New Danish Screen-supported "Nylon," along with several awards. "We were lucky to get Ingeborg Topsøe, just as she was returning from London. Her sharp eye for nuanced characters and unsentimental scenes helped deliver Milad’s vision for the film," Lassen says.

The director picked a mixed cast of familiar and fresh faces, a characteristic move for Alami who in all his previous films has worked with a large number of amateurs and new talents. A number of Iranian actors were cast in the film, with Ardalan Esmaili in the lead as Esmail. Starring opposite him is Soho Rezanejad, making her feature film debut, supported by veteran character actors like Lars Brygmann and Susan Taslimi, who is a movie icon in Iran.

Breaking with Habitual Thinking

"It was clear from the beginning that a joy of storytelling was in the driver’s seat for the creative trio,'" says project editor Marie Schmidt Olesen of New Danish Screen, the Danish Film Institute's talent programme backing the film with production funding.

"The film has the same focus Milad Alami had in his short films on loners in stressful situations. Throughout the development process, he and his writer and producer stuck with material and conflicts that can turn into a classic contemporary tale.

"Good Company Films is one of a number of small, but strong, companies these days that are breaking with habitual thinking and instead are driving projects based on a curiosity to develop expressions and unique voices, and challenge production forms," says Schmidt Olesen.

Along with Lassen, three experienced producers – Vibeke Windeløv, Anni Fernandez and Ole Søndberg – co-founded Good Company Films. The company has already produced two TV series helmed by new directors. Lassen will shortly be working on the shooting of Kaspar Munk’s third feature, "Vildheks," while another of the company's producers, Claudia Saginario, has "Jeg, Christian" in preproduction, a directorial debut by Kasper Skovsbøl, who graduated from Denmark's National Film School last summer. The company is furthermore developing three major TV series.

"The Charmer" is co-produced by Red Rental, FilmGear and Act3 of Denmark, Garage Film International of Sweden and Vixens of France. The film is also receiving support from the Swedish Film Institute and Film i Väst.

The film is expected to premiere some time in 2017.