Danish film spotlights piracy off East Africa

Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:52am EDT
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By John Acher

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A new Danish film made on a shoestring budget with a partly amateur cast confronts the global scourge of piracy on the high seas through a psychological drama about negotiations to free a vessel and crew seized by Somali marauders.

"A Hijacking" ("Kapringen" in Danish), directed by Tobias Lindholm, opens at cinemas in Denmark on Thursday after its world premiere in Venice at the beginning of this month and subsequent showings at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"It's a European hijacking drama and a negotiation drama, and there's a lot more psychological violence than real action," Lindholm told Reuters.

Piracy is rife off East Africa, disrupting shipping lanes between Europe and Asia, putting seamen, vessels and cargo at risk and costing shipping companies huge sums to protect themselves. The pirates tend to be Somali desperados.

"It's a contemporary film about...a big issue right now, so I would be lying if I said it wasn't political, but I don't have an answer (to the problem of piracy) in the film," said Lindholm.

"The message is to try to show how complicated the situation is, and how far from cliche it is," he said. "Nobody is really the villain. Everybody is doing the best they can, even the pirates."

The film is fiction but tells of the cargo vessel MV Rozen which is heading for harbor when it is boarded in the Indian Ocean by pirates who demand millions of dollars in ransom to free the crew in a life-and-death poker game lasting 134 days.

With a budget of just under 2 million euros ($2.61 million), Lindholm and his team recruited young Somalis from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to play the pirates and real sailors to play crew members. They also hired a real-life security chief from a Danish shipping company to act as chief negotiator in the film.   Continued...