EXCLUSIVE: Susanne Bier’s film In a Better World is Denmark’s Foreign Language Film nomination for Sunday’s Oscars. Now she plans to direct a remake of French kidnapping thriller Rapt for Smuggler Films before the end of this year. The Danish director with Anders Thomas Jensen, her co-writer on In a Better World, have almost finished the screenplay. Patrick Milling Smith, John Hart (Revolutionary Road) and Greg Shapiro (The Hurt Locker) are producing with Brian Carmody exec producing for Smuggler. Inspired by a true story, Rapt follows a corporate chairman who is held for ransom by a group of highly organized criminals while family, the corporation and the police are pitted against each other. The 2009 French original was nominated for a Cesar, the French equivalent of an Oscar. Milling Smith tells me: “The underlying story is definitely a high stakes thriller but at its core it is about human struggle. We have a real character drama in this story with people fighting for survival while seeing their finely balanced worlds thrown into chaos. Susanne has shown in her very special films the delicate hand she has in bringing out the truth and humanity in the most challenging of situations.”
Deadline has tipped Bier to win Best Foreign Language Oscar on Sunday. Her drama After the Wedding was nominated for a foreign language Oscar in 2007. Bier followed up with her English language debut Things We Lost in the Fire starring Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro. Lorber Films will release the original Rapt on July 6 at NY’s Film Forum.
Smuggler, which has offices in London, New York and Los Angeles, has several film and theatre projects on the boil financed through its own private money. It’s fully funding two plays: a stage musical version of indie film Once, adapted by Enda Walsh and directed by John Tiffany, to be staged this fall, and a Broadway version of Robert Evans’ memoir The Kid Stays In the Picture, directed by Richard Eyre, which is still being written. And it’s putting slugs of equity into various movie projects including William Monahan’s Becket, a new adaptation of the Jean Anouilh play. Monahan has just turned in the script. Becket was previously filmed in 1964 starring Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton. That film, about the friendship and estrangement between King Henry II and the Archbishop of Canterbury, won an Oscar for scribe Edward Anhalt and was nominated in 11 other categories. Smuggler plans to shoot Becket on location in England.