The battle between fiction and facts regarding French in Congo
Director Marius Holst wanted to shield the reality behind the story of Tjostolv Moland and Joshua French in Congo, but the actors searched far and wide for the truth, regardless.
– Everyone in this production has stretched themselves as far as they have been able to find the most truthful, honest and most thorough research of who those two persons are and what kind of situation they entered into, says Lead Actor, Aksel Hennie.
The film «The Murders in Congo» premieres all across Norway on Friday.
– This also means that we have made a fiction about something which really happened not very ago, informs Director Marius Holst. Holst consciously chose who he met from the real story while the movie was made.
– There are many ways to tell this story. I wished to make a movie showing the persons that they really are and the friendship between them, Holst continues.
Recorded with secrecy
Two hours and eight minutes depicting the fateful motorcycle ride the two Norwegians Tjostolv Moland and Joshua French made in Congo in 2009. The motorbike broke down and they had to hire transport to complete a shady mission. The trip ended with the driver being killed. The two Norwegians were subsequently arrested and later sentenced to death for murder and being an accomplice to murder, respectively.
Investigators from the Serious Crime Unit (Kripos) in Norway found that Tjostolv Moland committed suicide in the prison in Kinshasa, Congo, in August 2013. Joshua French was blamed for the death anyway and was sentenced to another death penalty.
It would be four more years before French finally was released from prison and could travel back home to Norway. (French has a British father and a Norwegian Mother) Then much of the movie was already filmed in the deepest secret in South Africa.
Cited Joshua French
Joshua French is played by Aksel Hennie, while Tjostolv Moland is played by Tobias Santelmann. Both have, in turn, dived deep into the information about the two former soldiers from Norway who travelled to Africa to seek adventure as mercenaries. In 2016, Hennie had several meetings with French, who was incarnated in Kinshasa at the time. The actor had to smuggle a spy camera into the prison in order to document the conversations with French.
The results of the visits were long recordings that were later used in the movie script.
– I experienced French as being surprisingly aware and present. All of the words used in the movie are words that Joshua himself has uttered. Closer to the whole truth than that I can’t come, Hennie comments.
Broke a collarbone
The movie cost NOK 52 million to make and is recorded in South Africa, during two sessions, in the spring and summer of 2017. Shaft Hennie broke a collarbone during the recording, and all work, therefore, had to be halted. Meanwhile, Joshua French was released from prison and duly expelled from Congo. This changed a lot for the movie makers who could finally tell the public that they were recording a film about the case – without risking that it would affect the work to get French out of prison.
– It has been challenging to work with this movie because we have always had to pay close attention to real events on the outside of the film set, says producer Christian Fredrik Martin.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today