Writer-director Martin Zandvliet's two previous features, "Applause" and "A Funny Man," both screened at the Toronto Film Festival to great acclaim.
Now the director's third feature, the WWII drama "Land of Mine," follows suit. The film is selected as the opening film of Platform, Toronto's new prestigious competition programme for original, personal filmmaking, and will be enjoying its world premiere as one of the 12 director-driven films selected from across the globe.
"Land of Mine" shines a light on a little-known chapter in Danish postwar history:
Taking place in May 1945 only a few days after the end of the war, the film tells the story of how a group of German prisoners of war were brought to Denmark and forced to disarm the two million landmines that had been scattered along the West Coast by the German occupying forces. In charge of the enfeebled young men performing the dangerous task is Sergeant Carl Leopold Rasmussen. Like so many of his fellow Danes, he has a deep hatred for the Germans after having suffered five years of hardships during the occupation. He lets his rage rain down on the prisoners, until one day a tragic incident makes him change his view of the enemy even if it may be too late.
Actor Roland Møller takes his first lead as the Danish sergeant in charge of the prisoners. Møller made his screen debut in Tobias Lindholm and Michael Noer's prison drama "R" and went on to perform in Lindholm's "A Hijacking" and Noer's "Northwest".
Among the Danish cast is also Mikkel Boe Følsgaard ("A Royal Affair"), while the young Germans all are amateur actors, discovered through Berlin-based casting expert Simone Bär who has collaborated with Michael Haneke, among others.
Zandvliet's debut feature "Applause" (2009) received numerous awards, with quite a few directed at the film's lead actress Paprika Steen. The film was selected for the Toronto Film Festival, as was Zandvliet's second feature, "A Funny Man" (2011), which also enjoyed great domestic success with a total of 10 Robert and Bodil awards, Denmark's highest film distinctions.
Zandvliet wrote the script for "Land of Mine," and Mikael Christian Rieks has produced for Nordisk Film. The film is shot by Camilla Hjelm Knudsen and edited by Molly Malene Stensgaard and Per Sandholt, and has received funding from the Danish Film Institute as well a number of international backers, including Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein and Deutscher FilmFörderFond. Munich-based K5 handles international sales, with US rights being managed through WME Entertainment. Domestic release is set for 3 December.
The inaugural jury for Platform, the Toronto Film Festival's new programme to champion directors' cinema from around the world, is composed of filmmakers Jia Zhang-ke, Claire Denis and Agnieszka Holland. They will award a prize of $25,000 to the best film in the programme, to be announced at the Awards Ceremony on 20 September.