The Guilty Inspired By 911 YouTube Kidnapping

Director Gustav Möller has revealed to Variety that his hit debut feature The Guilty (Den skyldige), which has sold to 90 countries, is inspired by a 911 emergency YouTube clip.

In the movie, police officer Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) expects a sleepy shift as an emergency dispatcher when he answers a call from a kidnapped woman. Confined to the police station, he is forced to use others as his eyes and ears to find her as his personal demons conspire against him.

Möller told Variety that he took inspiration from a YouTube clip of a 911 call in which a woman was sat next to her kidnapper in a car, speaking to the dispatcher in code: “It felt like I was seeing images just listening to sound. It felt like I had seen this woman; I had an idea of the car she was sitting in and the road they were driving on.”

However, the structure of the story owes much to Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder’s podcast Serial in the way that listeners may interpret events. Möller hopes that his film will offer the audience a similar experience in that they may perceive the same material in different ways, “like watching their own film”.

The Guilty is currently showing at the Sarajevo Film Festival (10 – 17 August) ahead of Austin’s Fantastic Fest (20 – 27 September) and its US release this Autumn.