Netflix always likes to keep us on our toes and as such they have quietly released another fascinating TV series, this time from Norway, called The Lørenskog Disappearance. Based on an unsolved mystery, this is part true-crime drama, part psychological study of human behaviour when dealing with the unknown.
Directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg and Gjyljeta Berisha, we spoke with Gjyljeta to find out what this show The Lørenskog Disappearance is really all about.
Nordic Watchlist: The Lørenskog Disappearance is out now on Netflix – what can you tell us about the series and your involvement with it?
Gjyljeta Berisha: The Lørenskog Disappearance (TLD) is a limited drama series based on the high-profile disappearance case at Lørenskog. The series explores how we as a society, with police, journalists and lawyers at the forefront, are affected by a vortex of information, theories, speculations, rumours surrounding an unsolved disappearance mystery.
TLD seeks to challenge us, the viewer, hopefully to ask ourselves if we judge a little too easily, form a perception and conclude without really knowing.
The main roles in the series (journalists, police and lawyers) take us into the story and illuminate it from their different and changing perspectives, from belief to doubt, and contribute to a more nuanced and balanced presentation of the complex case than what we’ve been left with in the media coverage (this will probably be read differently outside of Scandinavia since most viewer will not know the case in depth).
The series is not a traditional whodunnit crime drama, providing answers, but rather showing how prone we all are to forming our own conclusions in the absence of a final truth.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” – Anais Nin
This quote has been with us since we started on the project, and describes probably the essence of our drama.
Nordic Watchlist: Tell us about your cast in the series?
Gjyljeta Berisha: Terje Strømdahl portrays Tom Hagen, while Henrik Rafaelsen is his lawyer (Svein Holden). Both actors are well known and respected in Norway, it was important to us to cast with that in mind when we portray real people in the series (even though Tom Hagen is not a main character in that sense).
Yngvild Støen Grotmol and Kidane Gjølme Dalva are the police investigators. Yngvild’s character, Jorunn Lake, is our main character, her character arch follows the nerve in the series where she ends up changing her perspective during the two years she works with the case. (The timeline in the series is two years, starting from the disappearance of Anne- Elisabeth Hagen on October 31, 2028 until the interview Tom Hagen gives on national TV on October 31, 2020).
But I would like to highlight two actors who I’ve worked with closely on the show.
Christian Rubeck, who you probably know from previous films/series, and the newcomer Victoria Ose (both pictured below).
I can’t wait for the rest of Norway – and thanks to Netflix – the rest of the world, to discover her.
They portray the journalists in the series, Erlend Moe Riise and Aleksandra Zaretski.
They’re incredible talented and giving amazing performances. They’ve been the best gift, considering we’ve been working with such sensitive material.
Nordic Watchlist: With a series based on true crime how much research was put into it before bringing to the screen?
Gjyljeta Berisha: Research is key when working with fiction based on real events. I learned that when I worked on 22 July (TV-series for NRK, 2020).
A great deal of research has been done for TLD as well. Both by the writers, but also by myself and Erik. It’s a necessary tool when working with the script and developing/forming the characters. We’ve read hundreds of articles, there’s books, podcasts, documentaries; and talked to police investigators, different journalists, the lawyers, «informers». Basically everyone who’s been willing to talk to us.
It is so much easier to create drama/fiction when you know the details and facts, you’re then freer to choose the angle of the story you want to tell, especially when dealing with such sensitive material.
Nordic Watchlist: Do you think Scandinavian true crime shows (such as 2021’s Hunt for a Killer) are a new trend to look out for?
Gjyljeta Berisha: Answering the question if Scandinavian true crime shows are a new trend to look out for, I would say it seems that way, this without having any factual knowledge/statistics of course. But true crime is established on audiences consciousness through headlines in newspapers, pod-casts, documentaries. And lately also through fiction, mostly abroad but Scandinavia is catching up.
I have yet to see Hunt for a Killer, but I’ve seen Danish The Investigation (2020) by Tobias Lindholm which I really liked. And as I mentioned earlier I also worked on 22 July (2020) with Pål Sletaune and Sara Johnsen. Both of the mentioned drama series are based on a true crime event, but the way they portray the case and the people and systems involved are the more interesting aspects. What mechanisms are at play that form our opinions and reflections.
It is a series about how we as a society and individuals react to the unresolved. About our need for answers when there are none and about how fear and hypotheses, rumours and speculation can lead us astray
I would like to emphasize again that TLD is not a traditional true crime drama. It is not a series that tries to solve the ongoing case and give a final solution on the matter of guilt. Rather, it is a series about how we as a society and individuals react to the unresolved. About our need for answers when there are none and about how fear and hypotheses, rumours and speculation can lead us astray.
Consider us very intrigued and excited. The Lørenskog Disappearance is out now internationally on Netflix – go and check it out and let us know what you think!
Interview by Alex Minnis