Ali Abbasi, a 2011 Danish Film School graduate, is world premiering his psychological horror film "Shelley" at the Berlin Film Festival (11-21 February). The film is Abbasi's feature debut and will be screening in Panorama, a section that bridges arthouse and mainstream. Read in-depth interview below
"Shelley" follows Louise and Kasper, a Danish couple who live in an isolated villa in the middle of the forest away from modern life, technology and even electricity. Louise's biggest dream is to become a mother but she is unable to have children. She finally decides, out of desperation, to seal a pact with her Romanian maid, Elena, who accepts to bear Louise's child as a surrogate mother in exchange of a large amount of money. But the life growing inside of Elena is taking shape too fast, affecting the lives of everyone like an evil force. Paranoia and horror set in around the inevitable birth.
Danish films in Berlin
These films are, so far, part of the Danish line-up for the Berlinale 2016:
The Commune / Thomas Vinterberg
Shelley / Ali Abbasi
Les sauteurs / Estephan Wagner & Moritz Siebert
Lili (3 short films) / Siri Melchior
Berlinale Special Gala
A Serious Game / Pernilla August
SE / DK / NO
A Man Returned / Mahdi Fleifel
UK / NL / DK
Read interview with Ali Abbasi The Darkness Growing Inside
Louise is played by Ellen Dorrit Petersen, who features in Eskil Vogt's 2014 award-winning directorial debut, "Blind." The part of the surrogate mother is performed by Romanian actress Cosmina Stratan, who won the Cannes Festival's Best Actress award in 2013 for her role in Cristian Mungiu's "Beyond the Hills." Louise's husband Kasper is played by Peter Christoffersen.
Maren Louise Käehne and Ali Abbasi wrote the script based on an idea by Abbasi. Cinematographers are Nadim Carlsen and Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, the latter winner of a Silver Bear in Berlin last year for his work on Sebastian Schipper's "Victoria."
Jacob Jarek is producing for Profile Pictures, who acted as co-producer on Grímur Hákonarson's "Rams," Iceland's entry for the Oscars and winner of the top prize in Un Certain Regard at last year's Cannes Festival.
Ali Abassi graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 2011, with fellow graduates including producer Jarek, cinematographers Carlsen and Grøvlen and others from the "Shelley" team.
The film has received funding from the Danish Film Institute's talent programme New Danish Screen. Indie Sales, based in Paris, is handling international sales.
More films in the Berlinale programme will be announced in the following days.
Berlin International Film Festival 11-21 February 2016
Interview with Ali Abbasi
"These are the things that interest me the most. People's inner landscape, or inner life, which is not the same as psychology but is more about all the things you can't control. Things you'd rather forget, but maybe you can't. Dreams, irrational acts," director Ali Abbasi says in our interview. Read the full story: The Darkness Growing Inside