Press release from production company Friland on May 18th 2017: To avoid any further speculation and as a result of major pressure from Norwegian media the past 24 hours following the extraordinary and joyful news of Joshua French´s transfer to Norway, we send out this press release. Friland has been working on this project for several years, but kept it unofficial out of respect of the situation Joshua French has been in. The project received EUR 1.5 M from the Norwegian Film Institute in September 2016, but this support was not announced at that time to protect the security of Joshua French, who was still in prison in Congo. The pressure and attention from Norwegian media has made us decide to send out this press release, confirming that a feature film based on the events in Congo is in the making. We will not respond to further questions regarding the project at this point in time.


Spring 2009: the two Norwegian citizens Joshua French and Tjostolv Moland cross the border to Eastern Congo. Only few days later the news of the death of their driver spreads, and after several nights on the run in the vast Congolese jungle, the two men are caught and sentenced to death. In the following months, the events in the jungle turn into an unsolvable political and diplomatic crisis - known as the “Congo-case”. In the ensuing trial, French and Moland are sentenced to death for espionage and the murder of their driver. The Norwegian state is accused of sending Moland and French to Congo to spy on the Congolese state, which demands USD 500 million in compensation. 


CONGO is a story of arrogance, but also of unfaltering loyalty. When Tjostolv Moland is found dead in his cell after four long years in prison, Joshua French is accused of murdering his best friend. In the meeting with the down-broken Joshua French, the film takes us back to events that have been subject of countless speculations. This is a story of two worlds colliding and testing the fine line between right and wrong. 


The story will now become a feature film, directed by Marius Holst (CROSS MY HEART - AND HOPE TO DIE, 1994, which was nominated for a Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and took home the Blue Angel Prize) and produced by Friland Film, which has established itself as one of the foremost production companies in Norway. Their previous productions include PIONEER (2013) and HEADHUNTERS (2011). The latter was a huge international success, sold by TrustNordisk to more than 100 territories and seen by more than 560.000 Norwegians. HEADHUNTERS was nominated at both the EFA and BAFTA awards. 


Marius Holst comments on the project: ”We have chosen to let all the known facts and very comprehensive research form the basis of the dramatic narrative in the upcoming feature, CONGO. The audience will be taking on an epic journey, keeping the characters in focus in this fictional story based on the incredible true events from the Congo case.” 


Sveinung Golimo, executive director for production and development at the Norwegian Film Institute says: ”This film is based on tragic, real events. A man was brutally killed while at work in the Congolese jungle. We do not know the truth of what happened, but two young Norwegian men - his employers - were convicted of the murder. Today, only one of them is still alive, and he is marked for life. It is very demanding to make a feature film inspired by the story of Joshua French and the late Tjostolv Moland. 

A very strong artistic team, consisting of scriptwriter Nikolaj Frobenius, director Marius Holst and producer Christian Fredrik Martin has created an existential and delirious drama that gives us a different approach to one of the biggest media stories in Norway in the past decade. CONGO depicts wildness, violence and imprisonment, but also brings up themes like guilt, atonement and compassion.”


CONGO is produced by Christian Fredrik Martin & Asle Vatn for Friland Film in co-production with Nordisk Film, Pandora Film Produktion, Nimbus Film, Garagefilm International and Film I Väst in collaboration with DO Productions, ZDF Arte, TV2, DR and with the support from The Norwegian Film Institute, Eurimages, Nordisk Film & TV Fund, The Danish Film Institute, The Swedish Film Institute and Media.


TrustNordisk handles international sales.

Local distribution through Nordisk Film Distribution.