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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Denmark / Ireland / Germany

Documentary auteur Joshua Oppenheimer returns with the mysterious musical project The End, starring Tilda Swinton

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- The Danish-Irish-German co-production also has British thesps Stephen Graham and George MacKay on board, who are presumably practising their singing voices

Documentary auteur Joshua Oppenheimer returns with the mysterious musical project The End, starring Tilda Swinton
Director Joshua Oppenheimer

With all the song and dance numbers in his breakthrough 2012 non-fiction work The Act of Killing [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, it’s a surprise we didn’t see it coming. Two-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer has announced his long-gestating new project, The End, a post-apocalyptic musical about what is starkly described as “the last human family”. Tilda Swinton (who recently premiered Memoria [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and The Souvenir: Part II [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
at Cannes), Stephen Graham (The Virtues, The Irishman) and George MacKay (1917 [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
) have signed on to play the leads. The film will begin principal photography next year, and is a co-production between Denmark, Ireland and Germany. NEON, the US distributor that specialises in auteur-driven European titles, has already pre-bought the rights for its territory.

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Oppenheimer, of course, turned many heads with his acclaimed non-fiction diptych of The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, which offered an unsparing portrait of the perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, in which over one million people suspected of communist ties were murdered. Appearing on camera with his subjects, Oppenheimer famously put the killers – feted as heroes in their country – through outlandish scenarios such as dance sequences and mock-film noir dramatisations, attempting to unveil their guilt.

The director spoke in depth on the project last year in an interview with the American progressive magazine The American Prospect, making clear the thematic continuity between his past non-fiction efforts and this work of surreal fantasy. “I had a longing to make a film on wealth forged in mass violence,” he explained. “I was researching other very wealthy families, and one of them [had] a doomsday bunker that was more of a palace. I decided to make a film about a family in a bunker 20 years after the world has ended [due to environmental collapse] – and to make it a musical.” He has also previously cited Samuel Beckett’s minimalist theatre piece Happy Days and Jacques Demy’s classic sung-through musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as reference points.

The film will contain songs specifically composed for it, but the musical collaborators are still under wraps. And we note how its punning title is also how many films – especially from the classic Hollywood era – choose to signal their ending with on-screen text.

Final Cut for Real’s Signe Byrge Sørensen will reunite with Oppenheimer as the primary producer, with Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Pictures and Germany’s Match Factory Productions co-producing. Further financing support comes from the Danish Film Institute and the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW in Germany. The Match Factoryis handling the international sales.

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