Ruben Östlund Regular Partner Film i Väst Hikes Co-Pros with Noomi Rapace Starrer ‘Mother,’ Flags Five Films in Cannes (EXCLUSIVE)

Billed the ‘Trollywood’ of the North for its close ties to talent, the leading Scandinavian regional film fund Film i Väst in Sweden’s Trollhättan has boarded the Noomi Rapace starrer “Mother, to be helmed by Macedonia’s Teona Stugar Mitevska.

The biopic, in which Rapace will play the legendary religious figure Mother Teresa, will mark the English-language debut of esteemed auteur Mitevska, credited for the 2019 Berlin entry “God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya”.

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“I am Macedonian, and I grew up in Skopje- Mother Teresa’s birth place,” Mitevska told Variety. “I didn’t grow up religious, as it was Yugoslavia at the time and we were all atheist or existentialists, but I grew up in a vast family of strong dominant women, almost a matriarchy.”

The director says she got the idea for the pic while working on the docu series “Teresa and I” for Macedonian television, more than a decade ago. Mother Teresa’ s inspiring persona, not as a religious icon but as an empowering female figure, is what sparked Mitevska’s wish to make this feature.

“During the making of the documentary, I discovered an army of women within her religious community: The missionaries of charity and yes: I was hooked. Just as Mary Ward proclaims: Women for women, so did she. She had a rebel punk rock energy that spreads like a virus; she was a general of an army of women,” says Mitevska.

The story will focus on seven consecutive days at a pivotal moment of Mother Teresa’s life, when aged 39, and at the time Mother Superior of Loreto Entally convent in Calcutta, she is about to leave the order and create her own, Mitevska explains. “These decisive moments inform the Mother Teresa we revere today. We will show her human side, her fragility and doubts, but also her stamina.”

According to Teona’s sister and producer Labina, the project is structured as a five-country co-production between Macedonia’s Sisters and Brother Mitevski, Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup, Denmark’s Frau Film, the Netherlands’ Baldar Film, Sweden’s Spark Film & TV and Film i Väst.

Kinology handles global sales, “and of course, we have a partner in India-Kolkata Raging Films,” added Labina.

Discussing the pivotal financial contribution from Film i Väst, the producer said she first partnered with the Scandi film fund on Nury Bilge Ceylan’s Cannes 2018 competition entry “The Wild Pear Tree.” “This is when I realised that it was a fund with excellent taste,” she said.

“Mother” will be shot between Belgium and India, with a pencilled delivery date set for 2026.

Five titles in Cannes

Film i Väst’s ‘excellent taste’ in film is reflected in its hit rate in Cannes, where the film fund will feature in the main competition for the eighth year in a row. Alongside “The Apprentice” and “The Girl with the Needle,” rounding off its Cannes slate are Un Certain Regard’s “Armand,” Critics’ Week’s “Julie Keeps Quiet” and Directors’ Fortnight’s ‘Sister Midnight’.
“We always aim for the big five festivals – Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin and Sundance,” explains Film i Väst’s head of production Kristina Börjeson. The enviable Cannes hit rate might be down to “pure luck,” she said, but most certainly to the head of co-production Anthony Muir’s year-round efforts, the fund’s strategy to bet on talent, and to build long-term relationships with indie producers, “mostly in the Nordics, in Europe” and sometimes beyond, Börjeson underscored.
So far, the Western Sweden-based film fund, wholly-owned by Västra Götalandsregionen, the county of West Sweden, has co-produced more than 1,500 films, series, shorts and documentaries since 1992, including Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’or winners “The Square” and “Triangle of Sadness.” Its current annual co-production budget stands at SEK 90 million ($8.4 million).
Going forward, Film i Väst CEO Mikael Fellenius said the fund, whose principal aim is to attract productions in the Swedish region to boost the local economy and film workforce, will look into upping its TV drama investments, next to feature films.

“We are starting the dialogue with politicians. We might get an answer by 2026, but we will never give up and will stick to our long-term strategy,” he said.
In Cannes, Film i Väst is holding seminars about ‘overproduction,’ sustainability and the challenge of private equity in European cinema. It will also introduce in partnership with the Göteborg Film Festival, Johanna Koljonen’s latest Nostradamus report.

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