Monolit Film, the Danish banner behind “The Great Silence,” is developing “Wannabe,” the feature debut of “Bad Bitch” director Patricia Bbaale Bandak, and “After the Sun,” a dystopia based on a short story featured in The New Yorker in 2021.
“Wannabe,” which was pitched at the Nordic Film Market in Goteborg as part of the Discovery program, is inspired by Bbaale Bandak’s own life. The film follows Patricia, a 13 year-old Ugandan refugee who moves into an underprivileged town of Denmark. Over the course of a summer in 1995, Patricia, who is eager to fit in, joins a group of girls to participate in a look-alike music contest launched by a popular kids TV show.
“The story is told through the eyes of this 13 year-old girl and tells her coming of age but it also talks about the brutality of assimilation and the complexity of Danish society,” said Victor Rocha da Cunha, the Brazilian-born producer of “Wannabe.” Da Cunha, who co-founded Monolit Film with Pernille Tornøe and Emily Nicoline Quist in 2019, said the film will show how this young girl will be faced with insidious biais and covert racism. Bbaale Bandak will be doing open casting calls in Denmark and across suburbs for the main role, while a well-known Danish actor will play the main character’s antagonist. “Patricia has a unique sensibility and is very talented at working with non-professionals,” said Da Cunha.
Bbaale Bandak was born in Uganda in 1987 and fled to Denmark in 1989 with her family, where she grew up on the island of Falster. She graduated from the prestigious National Film School of Denmark and recently delivered her first TV series, “Bad Bitch,” which broke new grounds as the first Danish series boasting an ensemble cast of Black actors. She’s currently in post with the feature-length documentary “Better I Go Suffer.”
“Wannabe” was penned by Mie Skjoldemose, Sara Isabella Jønsson (“Unruly”) and Bbaale Bandak. Da Cunha pitched the project at Goteborg, which he attended with Tornøe. Both graduated from the National Film School of Denmark. Monolit Film is looking to enlist an international sales company on the project.
The outfit is also in early development on “After the Sun,” the feature adaptation of Jonas Eika’s debut collection of stories which won The Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2019. Ánitá Beikpour, a Danish-Iranian filmmaker who previously directed the documentary “Walk With Me,” will be directing the feature film based on two short stories from “After the Sun.” One of Eika’s short stories, “Alvin,” was featured in The New Yorker in 2021.
Penned by Leo Clara Mendes (“Sex”) and Beikpour, “After the Sun” is set in a near future. Tornøe said the story revolves around a couple of Iranian refugee who come to Denmark to start a new life in a world that has been ravaged by climate change.
The company is also making its first foray into TV with a crime drama series created by Sara Isabella Jønsson, the co-writer of “Copenhagen Cowboy” and “Unruly.” The show has already been commissioned by TV2 and is represented by REInvent International Sales. It will be pitched at the Danish Series Showcase in Berlin.
Monolit Film is rolling off its first feature film, Katrine Brocks’s “The Great Silence,” which world premiered at San Sebastian and won prizes at Chicago festival and the Nordic Film Days in Lübeck. Sold by TrustNordisk, “The Great Silence” also played at Goteborg in the Nordic Light section. It was released in Denmark on Jan. 12.
Tornøe and Bbaale Bandak said Monolit Film aspires to work with filmmakers telling strong, personal stories with perspectives on social and political issues. Their pipeline includes over six projects, many of which are by Nordic helmers with foreign origins, a diversity aspect that Monolit Film is looking to continue cultivating.