Norway’s Maipo Prepares Dystopian Thriller ‘Fortress,’ Season 2 of ‘State of Happiness’

Norway’s Maipo Prepares Dystopian Thriller ‘Fortress,’ Season 2 of ‘State of Happiness’

Leading Norwegian company Maipo is developing “Fortress,” an ambitious dystopian thriller, and is preparing the second season of “State of Happiness” (“Lykkeland”), the historical series which is competing this week at Canneseries.

“Fortress” is created and penned by two high-profile Norwegian screenwriters: John Kåre Raake, whose track record includes Nordic blockbusters such as “The Wave,” Roar Uthaug’s disaster movie, and “Ragnarok, a family film based on Viking mythology;” and Linn-Jeanethe Kyed, who notably co-wrote “Børning” and “Børning 2,” a action-comedy movie franchise set in the world of illegal sports car racing, and Benjamin Ree’s critically acclaimed documentary feature about the Norwegian chess prodigy, Magnus Carlsen.

“Fortress” takes place in a near future in Norway which is now secluded from the rest of the world by a wall built by the nationalistic government. Norwegians live in absolute sovereignty, relying only on their own homegrown resources and caring solely about national affairs. But when a malicious epidemic starts spreading in the country, officials embark on a race against time to find who is behind the epidemic and seek help to find a cure from foreign organizations which are reluctant to provide any support.

Synnøve Hørsdal, who is producing “Fortress” with Ales Ree at Maipo, said the concept of the series echoes some tendencies of the politics happening in the western world today.

The producer said that in addition to examining the consequences of political decisions that have been made, it will mostly be a suspenseful character driven thriller.

Meanwhile, Maipo is also developing the second season of “State of Happiness” with Mette M. Bølstad (“Nobel”) back on board to write the show. Set to world premiere in competition at Canneseries on Tuesday, the first season of “State of Happiness” takes place in the summer of 1969 in the coastal town of Stavanger and follows four young characters who come from different backgrounds and are thrown into a whirlwind of opportunity during the oil boom which turned Norway into one of the world’s most prosperous countries.

“State of Happiness”‘s second season which will set the action five years later years afterwill also bring back the cast, including British actor Bart Edwards (“UnREAL”), as well as newcomers Anne Regine Ellingsæter Malene Wadel and Amund Harboe.

Hørsdal said one of the biggest challenges Maipo faced to make “State of Happiness” was raising the financing for the 10 million euros series. “Everybody says ‘we want to make different shows that are not Nordic Noir but the reality is that it’s difficult to raise financing for ambitious drama series that are not crime-based.”

Maipo is behind some of Norway’s biggest films, such as “The Ash Lad: In the Hall of the Mountain King,” and Anne Sewitsky’s anticipated “Sonja – The White Swan” about Sonja Henie, the famous ice skater-turned-Hollywood star.

Alexa & Katie’ Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

Alexa & Katie’ Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

Netflix has renewed Alexa $ Katie for a second season, the streaming giant announced Monday.

The first season of the series launched on March 23. The multi-camera sitcom follows the titular best friends through their freshman year of high school. Alexa (Paris Berelc) is undergoing cancer treatment, but makes it through thanks to her outgoing personality and the help of her best friend Katie (Isabel May). At times they’re left feeling like outsiders, during a period when what seems to matter most is fitting in. Tiffani Thiessen stars as Lori, Alexa’s determined and protective mother. The series also stars Emery Kelly, Eddie Shin, Jolie Jenkins, and Finn Carr.

Heather Wordham created the series and will take over as showrunner on Season 2. Her previous credits include “Hannah Montana” and “Reba.” Matthew Carlson was the showrunner on Season 1.

That show, which debuted its first season on Feb. 16, followed two groups of high school misfits from the A/V club and a Drama club who collide in 1996 Oregon. It starred Peyton Kennedy, Jahi Winston, Patch Darragh, Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako, Sydney Sweeney, Elijah Stevenson, Quinn Liebling, and Rio Mangini.

‘Violeta at Last’ Sells to Starz

‘Violeta at Last’ Sells to Starz (EXCLUSIVE)

Hilda Hidalgo’s second film screens in Mexico on May 11

Underscoring the growing interest in Latino fare among pay TV and SVOD companies, premium pay TV outlet Starz has snapped up Hilda Hidalgo’s  “Violeta at Last”

Starz will start airing “Violeta” in August, according to its sales agent Alfredo Calviño of Habanero Film Sales. Inspired by Hidalgo’s mother, “Violeta at Last” turns on a woman in her seventies who finds new freedom in her winter years. “Violeta” is co-produced by Mexico’s Laura Imperiale of Cacerola Films who also co-produced Hidalgo’s first film, “Of Love and Other Demons,”

“Violeta” is slated to premiere in Mexico on May 11 at the Cineteca Nacional of México City and in five other cities, said Hidalgo. “Laura, myself and my lead Eugenia Chaverri will be there to present it,” said Hidalgo, who concedes that oftentimes co-producing with other territories is the most viable way of seeing your film released in other Latino countries.

It’s probable that “Violeta” boards Amazon Prime Video Direct in Mexico after October, according to Calviño. Amazon Prime’s self-service program for filmmakers, distributors and content creators, took its Film Festival Stars program (FFS) to the Guadalajara Int’l Film Festival (FICG) in March, marking its first foray into the Latin American marketplace. Launched at Sundance 2017, the FFS program offers cash bonuses and royalties to festival films seeking to self-distribute on Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Video recently snapped up the exclusive Latin American streaming rights to Spiral Int’l and Dynamo co-production, “Falco,” the Mexican adaptation of German high-concept crime series, “The Last Cop” (“Der Letzte Bulle”) by Ernesto Contreras. Red Arrow Studios International has launched international sales of “Falco” at MipTV.

In other sales news, Habanero Film Sales sold Uruguayan film “Mi Mundial” to Spain’s Cada Films/EDreams Factory and to Arcadia Films in Chile. Primer Plano releases the film in Argentina this month.

Carlos Morelli’s debut feature, “Mi Mundial” topped Guadalajara’s works in progress sidebar last year. The teen morality tale turns on a talented soccer player who has the skills but not the maturity to deal with the challenges of youth pro soccer and discovers other things – family, for instance – matter more than the beautiful game.

 

Facebook’s Communications Meltdown: How the Company Lost Control of Its Messaging

Facebook’s Communications Meltdown: How the Company Lost Control of Its Messaging

“You’re asking a really important question.” “It’s such a good question.” “Those are fair questions, and I think those are real questions.”When Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talks to journalists these days, she frequently praises their questions — and then proceeds not to answer them, instead talking about something else. Anyone who has ever undergone media training knows this as a redirection, a changing of the subject in order to evade those “really important” questions.

Sandberg has obviously undergone plenty of media training, as any executive in her position would have. But she’s also spent the past 10-plus years at Facebook, a company that has tried to control its messaging like few others — and that has been completely caught off-guard ever since the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal broke last month, incapable of dealing with a situation where the company is not in control.

Those decisions are as much a reflection of each company’s corporate culture as of their businesses. Apple makes most of its money with a handful of products, and believes it has found the best salespeople for the job. Google, and its corporate umbrella Alphabet, are on the other hand a lot more diversified, and publicly test all kinds of products and initiatives, from VR headsets to thermostats and from autonomous cars to cloud computing.

Facebook is in many ways more like Google, with a lot of groups working on separate products that often seem to compete with each other. Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger are just the most prominent example of this. Nonetheless, the company has long tried to use the Apple messaging method, with a firm grip on its narrative.

That’s why you’ll often see Facebook sending not one but two executives to fireside chats at industry conferences. Regularly pairing up a man with a woman, these duos seem to suggest a gender balance, but also outnumber the moderator, and tend to recite well-rehearsed softball answers.

That’s why Mark Zuckenberg reportedly has a team of employees taking care of his public Facebook profile, working in the background to keep the illusion that the founder of the biggest social network of the world really is just like the rest of us.

And that’s why Sandberg always has an anecdote about a mom-and-pop store using Facebook to increase sales at the ready, a habit that she picked up for the company’s quarterly earnings calls but that she couldn’t help but fall back to during last week’s interview.

But there’s a problem with narratives: If you repeat them too often, you might start to believe them yourself.

That’s exactly what seems to have happened at Facebook, which increasingly became tone-deaf to criticism over the past few years. Privacy advocates have long rallied against some of the company’s policies. What’s more, Facebook knew that it screwed up on key data sharing permissions, allowing Cambridge Analytica to do what it did, as early as 2014.

Instead of working on a real response, which would have resulted in rethinking everything from third-party app data to retention of customer information, the company practiced the art of the apology — and didn’t even realize how it began to alienate its users