SF Studios signs thriller ‘The Nation’s Gambit’ based on bestseller

SF Studios signs thriller ‘The Nation’s Gambit’ based on bestseller


Norwegian director Jens Lien (“Beforeigners,” “The Troublesome Man”) will direct “The Nation’s Gambit,” a feature film adaptation of emerging author Johan Høst’s best-selling debut novel, “En nasjon i sjakk.”

The action thriller is being produced by Norwegian production company Stig og Stein Studio. SF Studios is co-producing and distributing the film in Scandinavia, while Reinvent Studios is responsible for international sales.

Høst’s novel, published by Vigmostad & Bjørke, has recently been nominated for the Norwegian Boksellers Award 2022 and a follow-up novel is on the way.


The story of “The Nation’s Gambit” begins when the Prime Minister of Norway is kidnapped by a terrorist and disappears without a trace. The terrorist demands that the politicians in power play a game of chess over the Prime Minister’s life. The chess pieces represent people who work for the state or as leaders in society. If the politicians win the game, the prime minister will live, but every time the terrorist takes a piece, a man must pay with his life. The politicians and their designated rescue team, the Delta Squad, face an impossible dilemma with only 24 hours to rescue the Prime Minister.

Written by Rakel Kraft Biørnstad and Christopher Grøndahl, the film will revolve around Delta Squad operational chief Anton Block and his right-hand man Björk Jónsdottir.

“En nashon i shakk” is part of a trilogy and the second novel is in development. “Now the story lives on, taking on new perspectives and angles in a big action movie setting,” says Høst, who ran his own advertising agency before becoming an author.

“I’ve been a longtime fan of Jens Lien, and the fact that he’s going to make a movie of my book is a surreal out-of-body experience for me,” Høst continued. He added that he was inspired to expand the Delta Squad storyline into a trilogy and is currently writing the second opus.

Lien’s latest film “The Troublesome Man” won three Amanda Awards and a wave of international laurels. “The Nation’s Gambit” marks Lien’s comeback to feature films after 10 years of directing TV series, including the hit HBO series “Beforeigners.”

“Johan has written quite a story in which the shock effect is of course one of the ingredients. On the same
time, he balances seriousness, playfulness, sass and style in a way you don’t see very often
Norwegian film,” said Lien, describing the story’s “heroes” as “superior, funny and smart, while the villains are evil and transgressive.”

Lien also said that he “found Johan’s cocktail of grand politics, chess, terror and revenge to be both modern, fresh and daring.” The director added that the film is reminiscent of 1990s action thriller classics such as “The Negotiator” and “Seven.”

“The Nation’s Gambit” is produced by Norwegian production company Stig og Stein Studio
producers Stig Hjerkinn Haug, Fredrik Støbakk and Tale Bryn Teigene.

“Johan’s debut as a writer is completely unparalleled in the Norwegian context. The reviews, the
Reader feedback and the huge volumes the book has sold humble us in our mission to bring this story to the big screen,” said the producers, Stig Hjerkinn Haug, Fredrik Støbakk and Tale Bryn Teigene.

Silje Nikoline Glimsdal, senior acquisition manager at SF Studios, said the book was a page turner with an “exciting plot and high concept” that “made it clear that this could be turned into a cinematic success.”


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