One man in one location for ninety minutes. This may not sound like the recipe for a film hit, but nevertheless it has proven to be the right mixture to secure Gustav Möller's debut film, 'The Guilty,' a warm reception, both at home and abroad. See trailer below.
The story follows alarm dispatcher and former police officer Asger Holm, played by Jakob Cedergren, who races against time to save a kidnapped woman whose calls he answers. The film plays out in real time at the emergency services call centre.
'The Guilty' is funded through the Danish Film Institute's low-budget initiative, which was launched in 2015 to promote talent development. Read about the initiative resulting in "radical narratives": Low Budget foster artistic courage
Hitting the mark as a tight action thriller
At its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival, the film received the Audience Award and met with enthusiastic reviews. Since then, 'The Guilty' has screened at a string of venues, with its next international showcase being in competition at the München Filmfest from 28 June.
Distributors have also had a keen eye on Möller's crime thriller, Trustnordisk sales company reports. Around 90 countries have now acquired the rights to 'The Guilty,' including such important territories as North America, China, Brazil, England, Italy, France, Spain and Germany.
In Denmark, the film received a warm response from critics following its Danish premiere on 14 June. "A bullseye of a nerve-racking Danish action thriller," one reviewer wrote, and most agreed that the successful outcome of a film with such minimal setup is greatly due to Cedergren's performance, as his "expression and gestures carry the story, (...) his face and body becoming a canvas for the inner dialogue".
The audience's imagination is key
The idea for the film started when Möller was caught in by a YouTube clip of an American woman, kidnapped in a car, talking to a 911 dispatcher.
About the 'The Guilty'
Gustav Möller wrote the script with Emil Nygaard Albertsen, and Lina Flint produced for Nordisk Film Spring. The film is backed by the Danish Film Institute's talent programme New Danish Screen and is an outcome of a special low-budget initiative launched 2015-2018. International sales are handled by TrustNordisk.
Director, scriptwriter and producer all graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 2015 alongside the film's cinematographer Jasper J. Spanning and editor Carla Luffe.
As he reflected about how vivid the images in his mind had been, the idea of the audience using their imagination to fill in the gaps became the starting point for his film.
"I was fascinated by the possibility of making a film that, while having a strong, linear plot, would still play out in a unique way for every single audience member," says Möller in our interview Playing with audiences' imagination.
'The Guilty' is selected for Filmfest München (28 June – 7 July), to screen in the Cinevision Competion.
Updated on 28 June 2018.