‘A Beautiful Curse’ to premiere at Cinequest

A Beautiful Curse
(Olivia Vinall, Mark Strepan)

A Beautiful Curse, the feature debut of writer/director Martin Garde Abildgaard, will have its World Premiere at this year’s Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, held virtually March 20-30.

Filmed in 2019, the story is startlingly prescient: a lovestruck photographer (Mark Strepan) visits an island whose inhabitants, including the object of his affection (Olivia Vinall), are hit with a mysterious sleeping phenomenon. Equal parts suspense, fantasy, and romance, “A Beautiful Curse” is imbued with a quiet hope regarding the eternal quest for human connectivity and understanding.

Abildgaard describes his film as, “A modern-day fairytale. A love story. A tribute to life. I hope the audiences will dive into this timeless story and be inspired to see the world, and people around them, in a different perspective.” 

“Our production approach was guided by a dogma of minimal impact by using what was available on the island where we filmed, and this was really made possible by the generous welcome we received,” said A Beautiful Curse Producer Rikke Katborg.

“With our small crew and the openness of the small local community, Martin’s story came to life in a way that feels incredibly intimate and artful, but also strikes a universal chord.” 

ALSO READ: Soundtrack to ‘Too Beautiful, Our Right to Fight’ released

A Reunion of Sorts

A Beautiful Curse marks the reunion of an international team, including producer Katborg, noted production company Les Producers in association with Circus Alphaville, Creative Alliance, editor Marco Perez and Union Editorial, all of whom previously collaborated on Abildgaard’s award-winning short, Lovebirds. 

“It was a huge pleasure to work with Marco again,” noted Abildgaard. “He is a very strong storyteller and has made this poetic story come through in a very emotional and almost fragile way. In a film where gesture and location can carry equal weight to dialogue, Marco’s ability to bring music and images together helped tell the story in ways that we didn’t even imagine.”  

The director and editor were introduced to one another by Katborg. “I am really grateful to Rikke, who thought Martin and I could be good creative partners,” shared Perez. “Martin has a very collaborative nature, and he understands editing. His point of view is distinctive, yet his writing and directing are very subtle. With its esoteric elements and flashbacks, the story’s narrative was shaped somewhat in the edit, so I truly appreciated Martin’s confidence.” 

For example, the film is set on a stark and sand-swept northern Danish island that could be anywhere in the world. “We realized at one point that there are twelve to fifteen cultures within the Union family,” Perez remarked. “So I had the idea to add loudspeaker announcements in several different languages to make the film more universal – and to add more pressure on the protagonist, who is disoriented and suspicious to begin with.” 

The project was filmed over 25 days with a brief break when the island, a place Abildgaard had been visiting since childhood, was overtaken by an ice storm. While weather was a significant factor, it also served the contrast between stillness and active imagination, the vitality of life and a mysterious slumber. 

“In a world that’s moving faster than ever, and audiences need to be conquered within the first 5 seconds of a film, it is great to see there is room for a slow, quiet and thoughtful film like A Beautiful Curse,” Abildgaard concluded. “I’m very thankful that Cinequest has selected our film for their lineup and look forward to the premiere.” 


PRODUCTION COMPANY: Les Producers In Association With Circus Alphaville & Creative Alliance

  • Written and Directed by: Martin Garde Abildgaard
  • Produced by: Rikke Katborg
  • Executive Producer: Francois Chilot
  • Executive Producers:Jonas Arnby, Christoffer Boe, Morten Hoffmann Larsen, Marco Perez, Michael Raimondi
  • Director of Photography: Philippe Kress 

EDIT: Union Editorial

  • Editor: Marco Perez
  • Post Producers: Gitte Wahl Folmann, Aksel Leth

COLOR: Kamerapost Cph

  • Colorist: Lasse Selvli

COMPOSER: Dennis Lee

CAST: Mark Strepan, Olivia Vinall, Iben Hjejle, Ulrik Wivel, Henrik Priergaard