NEW YORK, NY.-
After an extensive search to find the right helmer for their biopic of legendary Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, Kalliope Films
has chosen award winning Swedish director, Daniel Fridell, to direct the movie. Fridell, whom critics have compared to 'a young Milos Forman,' has directed acclaimed films in his native Sweden. His films ‘Say That You Love Me’ and ‘Beneath the Surface’ both won the prestigious 'Swedish Oscar,' (Guldbagge Award). Now that they have a director, the filmmakers are currently seeking an actor to play the iconic title role of Vincent Van Gogh.
‘Van Gogh’ is the first English language feature film biopic about Vincent Van Gogh since Kirk Douglas' 1956 movie ‘Lust for Life’. It is also the first Van Gogh biopic to portray Vincent's entire life, starting from his childhood in Zundert, The Netherlands. Previous film and TV portrayals of the painter, started the 'cameras rolling' after Van Gogh's mental illness was 'in full bloom' within the story. Such was the case in the 1990 TV mini-series ‘Vincent and Theo’ starring Tim Roth.
An aspect which makes this ‘Van Gogh’ biopic unique, is that the filmmakers have spent over six years as “Van Gogh detectives” doing on the ground research of Vincent's life. They have traveled to every location where Vincent lived, worked or visited. The filmmakers have uncovered archives, eyewitness testimonies, police reports and evidence, in an effort to give an accurate and authentic portrayal of the artist. As a result of their extensive research, the filmmakers have uncovered information about Vincent Van Gogh that will be revealed to audiences for the first time in the biopic ‘Van Gogh’.
For authenticity, ‘Van Gogh’ will be filmed on location in Europe at the places where Vincent lived, visited and worked. Fortunately, many of the houses where Van Gogh resided are still standing and have been well preserved.
The filmmakers also have a team of international Van Gogh expert consultants in the U.K., France, The Netherlands and Belgium who are advising them. Among these are the head of the cultural organization 'Van Gogh Brabant' Frank van den Eijnden, Van Gogh book author Alain Amiel, Van Gogh Borinage expert Filip Depuydt, Van Gogh Auvers sur Oise specialist Alain Rohan, Head of the Absinthe Museum in France Marie-Claude Delahaye and coal mining specialists Nadine Gravis and Riccardo Barberio, who are the owners of the Marcasse coal mine where Vincent preached as a Christian minister. Additionally, the filmmakers have several psychological experts advising them on Vincent's mental illness.
Producer/Writer Kira Madallo Sesay's production company Kalliope Films (‘Caesar’, ‘New Amsterdam’), is producing the film. Kalliope Films is named after ''Homer's muse'' Kalliope, the Greek mythological muse of writing. Dutch cinema icon Sir Rutger Hauer, who was knighted by the Dutch Royal Family, is executive producing the film. Kira Madallo Sesay and Emiel Pijnaker are serving as producers. Swiss based film financier Blue Pencil Investments, is providing the equity funding for the film. Stuart Wilkins, managing director of Blue Pencil Investments, is serving as executive producer on the film.
“We interviewed numerous directors but after seeing Daniel's Van Gogh director's vision and our discussions with him, we are confident that he is the right person to direct ‘Van Gogh’. We feel that Daniel will bring Vincent's tale to the big screen in a groundbreaking and visually stunning manner cinematically, while at the same time respectfully portraying Vincent's bipolar disorder with dignity and accuracy. In addition to being an award winning film director, Daniel also teaches 'Method' acting in Sweden. As a result, he has the valuable skill set needed to guide an intense performance, such as that of ‘Van Gogh’ and he possesses a true understanding of the actor's process. This is a tremendous asset which we believe will enable Daniel to bring out a memorable performance from the actor chosen to play Vincent Van Gogh,” says Kira Madallo Sesay, CEO of Kalliope Films and producer/screenwriter of 'Van Gogh'.
“We have researched ‘Van Gogh’ for over six years, traveling to every location where Vincent visited, worked and resided. During this time, we have uncovered hidden documents, archives and witness testimonies to gather the most accurate up-to-date information needed to do justice to the amazing story of Vincent’s life. When the murder theory was announced, we went back again and retraced our steps. We left no stone unturned in our quest as “Van Gogh detectives”, to get to the bottom of the mysterious circumstances of Vincent's death, before proceeding with production. Thankfully, with the help of our Van Gogh team of experts and most importantly our Van Gogh ballistics expert Alain Rohan, we have finally solved the mystery of how Vincent died. Now, we are armed with all the information we need to accurately bring Vincent's fascinating story to the big screen. With the talented director, Daniel Fridell, at the helm of ‘Van Gogh’ we are certain that all of the time, love and effort we put into preparing this film have been placed into skilled and caring hands,” says Emiel Pijnaker, producer of ‘Van Gogh’ and President of Production of Kalliope Films.
“Having the chance to make a film about the visual genius Vincent Van Gogh is a director's dream. But for me even greater than his visual genius is his character, his rich but thorned soul, his struggle for justice for the poor and his search for the ultimate truth in religion, art, love and life. He is a real hero and his life is a story that just has to be told. I’m proud to be a part of this project,” says Daniel Fridell, director of ‘Van Gogh’.
“I am delighted to be involved in the financing and as Executive Producer of the film ‘Van Gogh’. This is going to be an amazing film about the life story of such an iconic painter. Kira is a talented writer/producer and under the visionary direction of award winning director Daniel Fridell we have an incredible team. Kalliope Films has developed a truly exciting slate of projects and I hope this is the first of many opportunities to work together. Blue Pencil Investments, along with its partners, is focused on cultural and educational media which align with the spirit of our legacy motto. ‘Van Gogh’ is a perfect example of this,” says Stuart Wilkins, managing director of Swiss based film financier, Blue Pencil Investments, which is providing the equity funding for the film. Stuart is serving as executive producer on the film.
Furthermore, the filmmakers have partnered with several prestigious institutions to honor the upcoming 125th anniversary of Vincent's passing in 2015. In particular, they are partnering with the organization MONS 2015, to do a Van Gogh movie themed museum exhibition. The exhibit will honor Vincent's time spent as a Christian missionary in the coal mining region of the Borinage in Belgium. Mons, the provincial capital of the Borinage, was selected as the official 'European Capital of Culture’ for 2015.