Entertainment

Ruben Ostlund’s Banner Produces Denis Lavant Movie ‘Redoubt’

Denis Lavant, the iconic French actor of Claire Denis’ “Beau Travail” and Leos Carax’ “Holy Motors,” stars in “Redoubt,” the feature debut of rising contemporary artist-turned-director John Skoog.

Currently in post, the black-and-white film is produced by Plattform Produktion, the Goteborg-based banner run by two-time Palme d’Or winning director Ruben Ostlund (“Triangle of Sadness”) and Erik Hemmendorff. Skoog previously directed the California-set documentary short “Shadowland” which completed for a Golden Bear at the Berlinale.

“Redoubt” (“Reduit”) is a narrative film that expands on Skoog’s video installation by the same name which won the prestigious Baloise Art Prize in 2014, and is also part of the artist’s exhibition “Walls.”

Lavant’s reclusive character in “Redoubt” is inspired by Karl-Göran Persson, a farmer known as a good samaritan on the verge of madness, who lived near Skoog’s home town Kvidinge during WWII. After receiving a warning by the Swedish government of potential strikes by the Soviet army, he sets off to turn his house into a fortified shelter for fellow villagers.

Speaking to Variety during the Goteborg Film Festival, Skoog said he’s “been captivated by this story (his) whole life.” He said he grew up hearing stories about this man and would visit his shelter, which became a sort of village landmark.

“It’s based on a true story about this Swedish farmer who was born in the late 19th century and lived through two wars,” said Skoog, who attended the festival with Hemmendorff. “When the threat of a Soviet invasion started looming, after he received the pamphlet, he became obsessed and decided to rebuild his little house into a bunker, first for himself, but then also for everyone in the village,” he continued.

Persson didn’t have any money, so he collected everything he could to reinforce the concrete, including old metal parts, bikes, farming tools and even a squeaking bed. Skoog said the result is a “crazy house which looks almost like a sculpture.”

Lensed in 35 mm, the film’s stellar key crew comprises cinematographer Ita Zbroniec Zajt (“Woman on the Roof”), editor Jussi Rautaniemi (“Compartment No. 6”) and production designer Søren Schwartzberg “Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes.” The script was penned by Skoog and Kettil Kasang.

“This man was so kind to children and animals, and could sing, but he was consumed by this fear of doom and paranoia.” While researching for the movie, Skoog said he also learned that Persson had also been bullied by villagers, and ended up clashing with the local community. Skoog says his story resonates today because there’s also some “fears of the East and Russia now,” amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

For “Redoubt,” Skoog said he transposed the story to the “second part of the 20th century, post WWII but before the Internet became something for everyone and before the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

Skoog said he wrote the part for Lavant whom stars in nearly every frame of the movie and learned Swedish for the film, although he has very little dialogue. “The question was always, who can play this legendary man? And then there was Denis Lavant.”

“It’s a crazy performance — he said he had never done it like this, where he was part of every shooting day,” said Skoog. The rest of the cast comprises Agnieszka Podsiadlik (“World on Fire”), Michalis Koutsogiannakis (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), and Livia Millhagen (“Solsidan”).

The movie shot in two parts, the first in the Summer and the second, supposed to take place 10 years later, in the Winter.

Hemmendorff is producing with Caroline Drab for Plattform Produktion, in coproduction with Film i Skåne, Film i Väst, Sveriges Television, BCD Film, BUFO, Lemming Film, No-Mad Films och Paloma Production, in association with Board Cadre Films  and Sovereign Films.

One of Scandinavia’s best known producers, Hemmendorff’s credits include Ostlund’s movies, taking in his Palme d’Or winning “The Square” and “Triangle of Sadness,” as well as Mia Hansen-Love’s “Bergman Island” and Ninja Thyberg’s Sundance film “Pleasure.”

Lavant has worked with Carax on his most iconic films, from “Mauvais Sang” to “Holy Motors” which earned him a Cesar nomination.

Another still from “Redoubt:”

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