Ella Balinska, who stars in Netflix’s upcoming Resident Evil TV series, is to lead cast in sci-fi thriller The Occupant.
Balinska will play Abby who, during a desperate quest for her dying sister’s survival, finds herself stranded and alone in the icy Russian wilderness where a mysterious helper may or not be her salvation.
Co-written and to be directed by Hugo Keijzer, the project is an expansion of Keijzer’s 2019 short film of the same name, which played at festivals including Sitges, Fantasia and Bifan.
Script is by Philip M. Howe, Roelof-Jan Minneboo and Hugo Keijzer. The feature will be produced by Raymond van der Kaaij for Revolver Amsterdam (Love and Friendship) alongside Dutch producer Maurice Schutte and Elwin Looije.
The feature received a grant from Epic Games to potentially utilize Unreal Engine – their virtual production technology, which was recently used in The Mandalorian. The project also won the the Bucheon Award at NAFF, the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival’s genre film project market.
The film is currently being financed and has received funding from the Dutch Film Fund. Production is planned for early 2022 with shooting planned in Georgia and Ireland.
Altitude Film Sales has boarded worldwide sales rights and will introduce the project to buyers during the Toronto market. Altitude is also an exec producer.
Keijzer noted: “The Occupant is both a visceral survival story and a gripping journey into the unknown, which will be an immense challenge both physically and mentally for our lead actress. I’m thrilled to be working with Ella on this. She embraces the unique challenges that come with this project and she’s not afraid to reveal her most vulnerable side. I believe she has all the makings of a superstar.”