The Match Factory Snaps Up ‘Sweat’ Director Magnus von Horn’s First Genre Pic, ‘The Girl With the Needle’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Cologne-based The Match Factory has acquired rights to Swedish-Polish helmer Magnus von Horn’s Danish pic “The Girl With the Needle,” billed as a “fairy-tale about a horrible truth.” In the starring roles are Trine Dyrholm (“In a Better World”, “Queen of Hearts”), Vic Carmen Sonne (“Godland”, “Holiday”) and Besir Zeciri (“Wildland”).

First clips of the stylised black-and-white chiller will be unveiled at the Works in Progress at Göteborg’s Nordic Film Market.

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“Magnus von Horn is a talent to follow,” said The Match Factory’s head of sales Thania Dimitrakopoulou. “His story of “The Girl with the Needle” hooked us and his choice of cast and narrative style promises a great outcome. We are certain the audiences will relate to this.”

von Horn’s dark drama is his first foray into period genre, following his 2015 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight calling card “The Here After”, and his 2020 Cannes-selected and international festival hit “Sweat”, a “poised, impressive drama” according to Variety.

Penned by von Horn and Line Langebek (“I’ll Come Running”), the story is very loosely based on the true crime story of Danish angel maker Dagmar Overbye, who helped poor women get rid of their unwanted babies and was sentenced to death in 1921.

In von Horn’s pic, set in post WW1 Copenhagen, the focal point is Karoline (Sonne), a young pregnant factory worker, who takes on the job of a wet-nurse for the charismatic Dagmar (Dyrholm) in order to escape poverty. Under the fake storefront of a candy shop, Dagmar runs a hidden adoption agency, helping poor mothers find foster homes for their unwanted infants. A strong bond develops between the women, but Karoline’s world is soon shattered, as she gets a grip on the nightmarish fate she unknowingly embraces.

“I’m not interested in looking at the dark side of human beings, but in the humanity that you might find in the darkest and least expected places,” said von Horn who worked more than four years on the script with Langebeck from her original idea.

“Basically, it’s the story of a woman who struggles with love – how to love and be a loving person – when it’s easier to flirt with the devil. How can we find the strength when it’s often easier to let go of a moral path and say: ‘F — – it all!”

The Göteborg-born helmer underlines elements borrowed from sagas and fairy-tales, such as the poor and innocent girl beguiled by a witch-like evil woman. He said turning to genre and costume drama was a way “to place this dark story at a safe distance from the audience,”  and to make it entertaining and engaging for the audience. Beyond the metaphor, it was also a tool to make people reflect on important topics, such as abortion.

Discussing his use of black and white, the former Lodz Film School alumnus, who teamed up with “Sweat” cinematographer Michal Dymek, said he was keen to “recreate the feel and grain of past times”.

Currently in post-production, the pic is being produced by Denmark’s Malene Blenkov (“The Shift”) of Nordisk Film Creative Alliance, with Mariusz Wlodarski, in co-production with Poland’s Lava Films and Sweden’s Nordisk Film Production, with Film i Väst, the Łódź Film Fund, Dolnośląski Film Fund. “The Girl With the Needle” is supported by the Danish Film Institute, the Polish Film Institute, the Swedish Film Institute, DR, SVT, Nordisk Film & TV Fond and Eurimages.

Blenkov said the feature will be delivered in the spring.

The Göteborg Film Festival’s industry showcase Nordic Film Market runs Jan.31-Feb.2.

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