Johan Høst’s hit novel ‘En nasjon i sjakk’ will be adapted into a film – The Nation’s Gambit

22. November 2022
Johan Høst’s hit novel ‘En nasjon i sjakk’ will be adapted into a film – The Nation’s Gambit

The Norwegian author Johan Høst bestselling and critically acclaimed debut crime novel En nasjon i sjakk will be adapted into a feature film by Norwegian production company Stig og Stein Studio with SF Studios having the global distribution rights. The novel has recently been nominated for the Norwegian Booksellers Award 2022 and a sequel novel is on the way. The action thriller called The Nation’s Gambit (Norwegian title: DELTA: En nasjon i sjakk) will be directed by award-winning director Jens Lien (Beforeigners,The Bothersome Man). SF Studios will distribute the film in the Nordics and Reinvent Studios handles international sales.

Norway’s prime minister is kidnapped by a terrorist and disappears without a trace. The terrorist makes only one demand. That the politicians in power are playing a game of chess over the prime minister’s life. The chess pieces represent people who work for the state or as leaders in society. If the politicians win the game, the prime minister will live, but every time the terrorist takes a piece, a human must pay with their life. The politicians and their appointed rescue team, the Delta Squad, are faced with an impossible dilemma: Can they afford to sacrifice other human lives in an attempt to save the prime minister? With only 24 hours to win the game and save the prime minister, they have no choice but to play, but with every move they make, death comes closer. And with no leads to go on, could sacrificing a first chess piece give them a clue to find the terrorist?

The film will be based on Johan Høst’s debut novel En nasjon i sjakk and the story revolves around the Delta Squad’s operational leader Anton Block and his right hand Björk Jónsdottir. Before Høst became an author, he was a writer, founder and creative head of his own advertising agency. The novel was launched in February 2022 by Vigmostad & Bjørke and has recently been nominated for the Norwegian Boksellers Award 2022 and been released in Denmark, soon to be followed by a release in Sweden and Bulgaria. En nasjon i sjakk is part of a trilogy, and the second novel is under development.  

I am beside myself with excitement that there will now be a film of En nasjon i sjakk. I am touched by the fact that the book and the story, that I have thought about for several years and had as my side project, is now going to appear on the big screen together with the giant SF Studios. Now the story lives on and will get new perspectives and angles in a big action film setting. I can’t wait to see how director Jens Lien will tell this story. I have long been a fan of him, and the fact that he is going to make a film of my book is a surreal out-of-body experience for me. My hope and my vision have been to write more books about Anton, Björk and the Delta Squad, and I have also many times said out loud that they should be made into a film. So, to see now that it is happening, inspires me even more to continue with what I am currently doing: writing the second novel of the Delta trilogy”, says Johan Høst, author.

The internationally acclaimed and award-winning Jens Lien is directing based on a script by scriptwriter Rakel Kraft Biørnstad and Christopher Grøndahl. Lien has previously been competing at international film festivals in Cannes and Berlin with both short films and the feature films Jonny Vang and The Troublesome Man, the latter being awarded with three Amanda Awards and 20 international awards, including the ACID Awards at the Cannes International Film Festival. The Nation’s Gambit will be Lien’s return to feature films after 10 years of directing TV series, such as the HBO hit series Beforeigners.

Johan has written quite a story where the shock effect is obviously one of the ingredients. At the same time, he balances seriousness, playfulness, brutality and style in a way you don’t see much of in Norwegian film. The heroes are superb, funny and smart, while the villains are evil and transgressive. I find Johan’s cocktail of grand politics, chess, terror and revenge to be both modern, fresh and daring. At the same time, my thoughts also go to the 90s and the heyday of action thrillers with classics such as “The Negotiator” and “Seven” “, says Jens Lien, director.

The Nation’s Gambit is produced by the Norwegian production company Stig og Stein Studio with producers Stig Hjerkinn Haug, Fredrik Støbakk and Tale Bryn Teigene. SF Studios has acquired the global distribution rights to the film and is distributing the film in the Nordics. Reinvent Studios is handling international sales. 

We are thrilled that this great IP will be made into a film. We are sure the film will travel to all corners of the world and cannot wait to show the international buyers, ” says Helene Aurø, Sales & Marketing Director at Reinvent Studios.

Johan’s debut as a writer is completely unparalleled in the Norwegian context. The reviews, the feedback from readers and the enormous volumes that the book has sold make us humble in our mission to bring this story to the big screen. Fortunately, all our partners share our enthusiasm and ambitions for this film adaptation. And with the solid team that we now have and a large audience in mind, we hope to be able to offer a unique action thriller that will entertain many cinemagoers both here at home and abroad”, say Stig Hjerkinn Haug, Fredrik Støbakk and Tale Bryn Teigene, producers.

When we first picked up the novel En nasjon i sjakk, we simply could not put it down. Such a thrilling plot and high concept made it clear that this could be adapted into a cinematic success. We are more than excited to see this action thriller come to life, a cinematic experience that will surely draw a lot of attention. This film will be a dream project for us to distribute, and we very much look forward to collaborating with Stig & Stein Studio on bringing this fantastic story to screens across the world”, says Silje Nikoline Glimsdal, Senior Acquisition Manager at SF Studios. 

About SF Studios
SF Studios, established in 1919, is one of the world’s oldest film companies. Today SF Studios is the leading film studio in the Nordic region with its headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden and offices in Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki and London. The company is producing and distributing feature films and TV series as well as providing the streaming service SF Anytime. SF Studios is part of the leading Nordic media company Bonnier.

About REinvent
REinvent is a packaging, sales and financing studio all in one. REinvent has extensive knowledge of original trends and sales opportunities in both the Scandinavian and international markets and works with high profile European production companies.

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