A feature film screenplay by Wiek Lenssen
*** THE HERD was officially selected for one of USA’s most prestiguous screenplay contests: the 2020 CINESTORY RETREAT in Idyllwild, California. A wonderful week with thirty finalists, intensive workshops and mentors, leading representatives of the American film industry. ***
My screenplay THE HERD is a drama about a young man facing a devastating diagnosis who decides to go for the greatest wish on his bucket list: to survive in the arctic wilderness.
The first thing you need to know is that it is a crazy, inexplicable fact that cancer does not exist among reindeer herdsmen living in the polar circle. This is true. My story is inspired by these tribes who remain cancer-free despite Soviet nuclear tests in their backyard and merciless living conditions.
The second thing to know is that the ‘eternally’ frozen layer in arctic tundras is melting due to climate change. This brings the soil resources into view. Like the oil inside the vast tar sands.
In my story THE HERD, Arnout, a young geologist, is confronted with a diagnosis of terminal cancer at the age of 25. He decides to opt out of chemo and instead put his life in the hands of nomadic herders living in a remote part of Siberia. He is willing to learn a lot about the healing forces of nature and the richness of the soil, but above all about himself.
But not everyone wants him there.
The tribe’s Shaman does everything he can to keep him out. Outsiders are not welcome in the restricted area where the herders live. Arnout is going to have to earn the Shaman’s trust if he ever hopes to find out what makes these men immune to the disease that’s taking his life.
And for Arnout, time is running out. But his journey confronts Arnout with a bigger drama than his personal one; the climate change.
He learns from the Shaman how the two issues are related.
At heart, this is a story about climate change. About the most important choice mankind faces at this point in history. Will we be able to abandon the use of fossile energy in time? Will we be able to put a halt to the devestation of untouched nature and of indigenous cultures living in it ?
Maybe leaving the oil richnesses in the melting permafrost will be the world’s biggest and ultimate test: to show we really choose to turn away from fossile energy.
Or will we storm blind like a stampeding herd into a deep abyss?
124 p. English. An adaptation of the novel ‘Padjelanta’ by Anton Quintana.
In June 2020 ‘THE HERD’ was selected for the quarterfinals of the CineStory Screenplay Contest, one of USA’s top ten festivals for screenwriters.–
In July 2020 Wiek Lenssen was invited for the SCREENWRITING RETREAT in IDYLLWILD, CALIFORNIA, a yearly retreat for 30 selected screenwriters for networking with studio representatives (i.e. Disney, Mar Vista entertainment) , screenwriting managers (i.e.Marc Manus, David Baird), renowned writers/ directors (i.e. Mark Fergus IRON MAN, CHILDREN OF MEN , Bruce McKenna, BAND OF BROTHERS, THE PACIFIC)
After the retreat the thirty finalists formed a writers community to exchange knowledge and experiences.
In July 2020 THE HERD was selected for the quarter finals of FINISH LINE, in top ten USA based screenplay contest
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Swolgen, The Netherlands 2020