‘The Promised Land’ (2023) By Nikolaj Arcel Selected for Competition at the 80th Venice International Film Festival

The 80th Venice International Film Festival has just announced its official selection, which includes Nikolaj Arcel's The Promised Land, a gripping drama, based on true events.
'The Promised Land' by Nikolaj Arcel Venice film festival
'The Promised Land' by Nikolaj Arcel

Copenhagen, 25 July 2023 – The 80th Venice International Film Festival has just announced its official selection, which includes Nikolaj Arcel’s THE PROMISED LAND, a gripping drama, based on true events about one man’s steely quest to create his own fortune and to change the map of Denmark forever. But in his pursuit of wealth and honor, he risks sacrificing love and losing those he cares about.

The Zentropa-produced drama will world premiere in Competiton at the Biennale di Venezia, one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious festivals.

The critically acclaimed director is back at the helm directing a Danish film, for the first time since the Academy Award-nominated A ROYAL AFFAIR (2012) and reuniting with talented, world-class actor Mads Mikkelsen. THE PROMISED LAND is penned by Arcel and Danish screenwriter and director Anders Thomas Jensen (RIDERS OF JUSTICE, 2020) and is based on the Danish bestseller ‘Kaptajnen og Ann Barbara’ (translated ‘The Captain and Ann Barbara’) from 2020. Produced by Louise Vesth (THE KINGDOM EXODUS, 2022; A ROYAL AFFAIR, 2012; MELANCHOLIA, 2011) for Zentropa Entertainments.

Director, Nikolaj Arcel comments on the outstanding selection:
‘When I was just ten years old, my father took me to see his favorite film, Visconti’s Death in Venice. While I had absolutely no clue what the film was about at the time, I was completely transfixed throughout its entire runtime. That experience cemented two things for me, at a very early age: my love affair with Italian cinema and my lifelong relationship with the city of Venice. I find it hard to express how honored and overjoyed I am that The Promised Land (local titel: Bastarden) has been selected for the main competition in the 80th Biennale and I look forward to being in the company of filmmakers I deeply admire, in my favorite city on the planet’.

Worldwide anticipation

Estimated to be one of Zentropa’s biggest feature films in years and with a budget of EUR 8M, the feature has already received massive attention in Denmark, within the industry and is highly anticipated globally with more than 50 territories already sold, including: US (Magnolia Pictures), Canada (Mongrel Media), Germany (Plaion), France (The Jokers Films), Poland (Best Film), Spain (Divisa Red) and many more underlining the immense attention that the film has received worldwide. 

A star-studded Scandinavian cast

THE PROMISED LAND stars renowned actor Mads Mikkelsen (INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY, 2023; 2022; ANOTHER ROUND, 2020) in the lead as Captain Ludvig Kahlen. Mikkelsen is joined in the cast by Amanda Collin, who starred in Ridley Scott‘s HBO Max drama series RAISED BY WOLVES (2020-22) and Simon Bennebjerg (BORGEN, 2022; THE PACT, 2021) together with Gustav Lindh (RIDERS OF JUSTICE, 2020; QUEEN OF HEARTS, 2019) and Kristine Kujath (SICK OF MYSELF, 2022). 


In 1755, the impoverished Captain Ludvig Kahlen sets out to conquer the harsh, uninhabitable Danish heath with a seemingly impossible goal; to build a colony in the name of the King. In exchange, he’ll receive a desperately desired Royal name for himself. But the sole ruler of the area, the merciless Frederik de Schinkel, arrogantly believes this land belongs to him. When de Schinkel learns that the maid Ann Barbara and her serve husband have escaped for refuge with Kahlen, the privileged and spiteful ruler swears revenge, doing everything in his power to drive the captain away. Kahlen will not be intimated and takes up the unequal battle – not only risking his life, but also the family of outsiders that has formed around him.

Inspired by true events, THE PROMISED LAND is a gripping drama about the conquest of the heath, the tale of a proud and uncompromising man, and the woman who becomes his ally in the fight against evil, death and perdition.

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