ACE Project Spotlight: Sweet Dreams

SWEET DREAMS by Ena Sendijarević will premiere at Locarno International Film Festival 2023 in Concorso Internazionale. Producer Erik Glijnis (ACE The Netherlands) participated with the project in the ACE 30 Annual Programme.

1900. A secluded island full of flora and fauna. Amidst another sugar crisis, Jan — patriarch and head of a sugar factory — dies, leaving his two women to their own devices: Agathe, his wife, and housemaid Siti, the mother to his bastard son. A family reunion follows. When the illegitimate son turns out to be the only heir, it’s every man, woman, child, plant, and animal for themselves…

How did the ACE Annual Programme benefit you as a producer, and your ACE project?
ACE 30 was an extraordinary edition as we started during the COVID-19 pandemic. We had the pleasure of participating in the ACE Annual Programme for over one and a half years. During that time, I developed SWEET DREAMS together with writer/director Ena Sendijarević from the first draft until a shooting script and from the start, it was clear that it was an ambitious project.
My fellow producers within the group helped shape both the content and financial set-up of the film. At the end of my ACE journey, we moved forward to a shooting period in the Summer of 2021. The shoot was bound to take place in Indonesia, however, the Delta COVID variant really hit hard that summer. During our pre-production, we had to stop due to safety reasons. Later, we tried to re-set it up in Indonesia, but also started researching alternatives, and came across the island of La Reunion and eventually moved the production there. We finally shot the film a year later in the summer of 2022. It was an extremely tough period. I’ve learned a lot from this process, from my fellow participants’ input and from being involved in helping them with their projects.

What was the most challenging in getting this film from script to the screen?
On a productional level, it was what I mentioned above, creating a period piece with a small budget amidst COVID-19. The co-production structure was Dutch, Swedish, Indonesian, and French, getting our different cultures and way of working in line and being the first ever international co-production to shoot in La Reunion meant we had to work very structured. I should not forget to thank my dear colleague Leontine Petit (ACE NL) and my producing partners: Erik Hemmendorff (ACE SE), Judy Tossell (ACE DE), Kristina Borjeson (FilmiVast), Mandy Marahimin (Tala Media, Indonesia) and Laurent Medea from (TikTak production, La Réunion). We had just completed the co-production PLEASURE, where Plattform was the majority producer, and it was great to continue our relationship and collaborate on SWEET DREAMS.

What’s ahead for you and your company? What are you currently working on?
We’re happy our different outfits (Lemming Film Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany) have a lot going on in terms of production. In the meantime, we’re working on our development slate and strengthening the organisation and our team. We’re also spending quite some time on the creative alliance we’re part of called The Creatives to further intensify our collaboration.

Regarding the projects: We’re in post-production with Tallulah Schwab’s MR. K, Lucrecia Martel’s CHOCOBAR, Stefanie Kolk’s MELK, Wang Xiaoshuai’s ABOVE THE DUST, Justin Andersons SWIMMING HOME and Isabella Eklöf’s KALAK.

This fall, I’m finally shooting David Verbeek’s feature film THE WOLF, THE FOX & THE LEOPARD, a co-production between The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Croatia, Ireland, and Taiwan. We’re involved as a minority co-producer in VÄRN, directed by John Skoog, and produced by Erik Hemmendorff and Caroline Drab (Plattform), with Denis Lavant as the lead. We’re also working on SKIFF, a feature film by Cecilia Verheyden, produced by Elisa Heene (Mirage Films). In the Spring of 2024, I’m shooting Michiel ten Horn’s ANY OTHER NIGHT with our German (One Two Films) and Canadian (Lithium Studios) partners. We also have two series and a high school comedy going into production in the first half of 2023, so it’s pretty packed until next summer with a wide variety of great projects.