Næss’s Into the White could end in black after accusations of copyright infringement
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
25/01/2012 - UK director-producer Alexander Joyce has cast doubt on the March 8 world premiere of Norwegian director Peter Næss’s Into the White [trailer], threatening a court injunction to prevent the release of the Zentropa International Norway production because of copyright infringement.
Into the White (formerly Comrade) is based on a true story from World War II: on April 27, 1940 German Luftwaffe pilot Horst Schopis’s bomber was shot down over Grotli in Norway by an RAF fighter, which subsequently had to crashland in the fjells. Three German and two English crew members found shelter from the strong Norwegian winter in the same isolated cottage, and soon realised that antagonism was hard to maintain. The international cast includes Florian Lukas, David Kross, Rupert Grint, Lachlan Nieboer and Stig Henrik Hoff.
Joyce claims that he had been working on a documentary, Comrade recounting the story since 2004, including interviewing Schopis (who died last year) in Germany. When he and his production company, Roundhouse, approached Zentropa with the project in 2009, Zentropa promised to co-finance the documentary, while itself using it for a feature. Instead, he explains, Zentropa took over the project, without making any financial arrangement with him except paying $3,750 travel costs and finder’s fee.
”Zentropa’s conduct has been dishonest, impudent, totally unacceptable, and a crystal-clear breach of the copyright legislation,” Joyce told Norwegian daily, Dagsavisen. ”No comments, except that the man is trying to squeeze money out of me, which – biologically – any film producer is against,” replied Danish co-producer and head of Zentropa Entertainments, Peter Aalbæk Jensen. According to marketing manager Ingrid Sølverud, of local distributor Scanbox Entertainment Norge AS, the launch on 100 screens will go ahead as planned.