Belgian group Lumiere has signed as co-producer – via its production arm Lunanime – and distributor for Benelux of the Icelandic crime drama “Haze” from Iceland’s seasoned showrunner Sigurjón Kjartansson (“Trapped” Season 1 & 2, “Katla”).
The eight-part series, produced by Kjartansson’s S800 for Icelandic pubcaster RÚV, will be showcased at Göteborg’s TV Drama Vision among a handful of standout Nordic series in development.
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High-profile Kjartansson has shaped Icelandic TV drama over the last two decades. He set up S800 in 2022, after departing from Baltasar Kormákur’s RVK Studios. Kjartansson will serve as head writer, showrunner, and executive producer on “Haze,” working with rising writing talent Gagga Jonsdóttir (“Trapped” Season 3) and David Mar Stefansson (“Katla”), as well as top director Óskar Thor Axelsson (“Operation Napoleon,” “Stella Blómkvist”).
Kjartansson said the starting point for the show was “the topic of how the international pharma industry works, and how lines are blurring between the legal drugs and the illegal ones that dealers are pushing on the streets.”
“This is a topic Iceland has known for many years, as we have had some successful pharma companies that have gone international, making its owners super rich,” he stressed.
Digging into the core, the creator said it’s about three childhood friends from small town Iceland. “One is the head of a pharma company, the other is the local doctor and the third is a drug dealer. The three of them start a business together without knowing exactly what they are getting themselves into, as the dangers of international, organised crime are looming all over.”
“In that sense,” continued Kjartansson, “this is a ‘fish out of water’ story with a very interesting character gallery, not at least for the female characters behind each of the leads. That will give us an engine for several seasons,” he pointed out.
Filming mostly in the Icelandic language, the shoot is scheduled to begin next fall.
Kjartansson and series producer Erlingur Jack Gudmundsson will be looking for buyers and global distribution at the Göteborg Film Festival’s TV Drama Vision confab (Jan.30-31).
Crucial to the initial financing have been RÚV and Lumiere Group’s involvement.
Lumiere producer Samuel Bruyneel said “Haze” is rooted in the DNA of his group, which has specialised in Nordic noir for more than two decades, and used to acquire 15-18 Nordic titles a year, at the peak of the drama boom.
“‘Haze’ is indeed a genuine Nordic noir, also very relevant for us in Belgium, where we see a lot of violence related to drug trafficking, especially in Antwerp. The Icelandic backdrop makes it all the more exciting,” he told Variety.
Apart from co-producing and providing MGs against distribution in Benelux, Bruyneel said his group will bring Belgian crew, equipment and post-production to the table, on top of access to potential Flemish tax credits and funding.
“Belgium is a small country but thanks to our big financing possibilities, we can act as a big territory. With Iceland for instance, I really believe in cross-pollination of co-productions in an organic and genuine way. We can learn from them and vice versa.”
“Haze” comes on the heels of Lumiere’s similar pre-to post production partnership and Benelux distribution on the Icelandic drama “Descendants,”repped by Red Arrow Studios International.
Other Nordic series on Lumiere’s slate, to be showcased at Göteborg’s TV market include the Norwegian political drama “Power Play,” which topped Canneseries, and upcoming Finnish-Icelandic crime thriller “Hildur.”
With Nordic dramas still accounting for about 75% of Lumiere’s 30 plus series slate a year, Bruyneel said his group will continue to build on its uniquely strong position in the Nordics, while eyeing new territories – such as Hungary and Croatia – and stepping up co-productions as a majority producer with Nordic and other European partners.
Bruyneel will be joining a weighty Flemish delegation attending TV Drama Vision’s Focus on Flanders.
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