Nordic Noir Comes To Showmax

Seven years ago, her daughter disappeared. Now detective Eva Thörnblad (Moa Gammel) has returned home after her father’s suicide to discover that more children are vanishing – in the same forest.

Jordskott was the highest rated drama of the year on both SVT in Sweden and ITV Encore in the UK, winning the Kristallen award for Best TV Drama in Sweden, as well as the BANFF Rockie Award for Best Serial in Canada. It was also nominated at Camerimage for Best Pilot and was quickly renewed for a second season.

”Despite having next to no violent crime compared to South Africa, the Nordic countries have consistently told some of the best crime stories of the last decade, from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (also on Showmax) to The Killing and The Bridge,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content: Africa at Showmax. “We’re delighted to introduce South African streaming audiences to the genre and confident that local audiences will relate to the show’s themes of corporate greed, environmentalism and the question of how far you’re prepared to go to protect those you love.”

Why is Nordic noir so popular internationally? According to Moa, it’s because “Scandinavian dramas have this realness to them. They’re about everyday life and relationships and psychology. They’re not like ‘Who is the killer?’ but more like ‘Why is that person a killer?’ If you combine that type of storytelling with the crime fiction that’s somewhat larger than life – murderers and dead bodies and grim storylines – you get a new, fresh mix. That’s what appeals to audience who maybe have seen glossier crime dramas about mobsters or whatever from the US.”

She also suggests that Nordic noir is less obvious than American crime shows. “Audiences themselves are getting to solve the puzzle. Maybe in some American storytelling, they say the subtext but Scandinavian dramas rely on the idea that audiences will see the subtext for themselves. You don’t always have to have someone say ‘I love you’ or ‘I hate you’. You can portray it instead and that makes it more compelling and interesting to watch. Audiences are so smart and they’re used to watching movies and series. They’re used to how stories are portrayed and sometimes they’re one step ahead, so you need to rely on their intelligence.”

She also says part of the appeal is because Nordic noir is known for its strong, complex female characters. “And they’re over 30 or 40,” she says – pointing out that Nordic noir paved the way for female-driven shows like Homeland and An Honourable Woman – and more recently Big Little Lies. “They also feature complex characters over 30 who have something different to them. It feels like people are looking to the Scandinavian countries and seeing the female characters on our shows. It’s amazing that we can inspire them to see, ‘We can do a series with a female lead and people will watch it.’ They’ve maybe been afraid before, like ‘No-one’s going to watch a show or a movie with a female lead because they’re not interested in that’ but they are and we’ve shown that they are.”

Unsurprisingly, Moa says she has no desire to move to Hollywood to further her career. “I’ve met with some American agents and they’re like ‘Maybe you should whiten your teeth…’ I’m not interested in playing a sexy Russian nanny. I’m too old for that anyway.”

Moa has been amazed at the global response to Jordskott. “We’re trying to portray the folk tale soul of Sweden; all of our natural myths and fairy tales that have been told from mouth to mouth. It’s part of our natural soul in a way and it’s amazing that people respond to it abroad. It’s like the local is global. The more local you dare to be, the more of a global allure it is, because it’s something different.”

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers.

Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry.

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