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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Sweden

HBO Europe announces limited documentary series Pray, Obey, Kill

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- Directed by The Bridge's Henrik Georgsson, the six-part show explores a murder in the Pentecostal community of the Swedish village of Knutby and will be released in spring 2021

HBO Europe announces limited documentary series Pray, Obey, Kill
Investigative journalists Martin Johnson and Anton Berg

HBO Europe has announced a new show that sounds like a must-see for aficionados of the true-crime subgenre. In Pray, Obey, Kill, acclaimed investigative journalists Anton Berg and Martin Johnson, alongside director Henrik Georgsson (The Bridge, Stieg Larsson – The Man Who Played with Fire [+see also:
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), are on a mission to shed light on what really happened in the remote Swedish village of Knutby.

A small, tight-knit Pentecostal congregation believed Jesus was returning to Earth to marry their leader. When a young woman in the community was murdered and her neighbour suffered multiple gunshot wounds, the ensuing court case became an international sensation.

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A young nanny confessed to being the murderer, pressured by text messages that she thought came from God, but which were actually sent by a pastor. But as the case unfolded, the story grew more complex, and the puzzle never quite found a resolution. Faith emerged as a deadly weapon, mercy became a motive, and convictions became truths.

Years after the murder drama, when the congregation disbanded and the former members freed themselves from the rules and hierarchy that had been imposed upon them, some were ready to revisit the past and start telling the truth for the first time about the physical and psychological abuse they suffered in the sect, leading to a new trial. Driven by the search for justice, journalists Anton and Martin have managed to talk to people who have now broken their silence, as well as gaining access to case material that has never been revealed before.

“To me, the case and what really happened in Knutby is all about abuse of power – something I find extremely provocative,” says Berg. Johnson adds: “Throughout our work with the documentary, abuse of power has become the central theme – both within the Knutby sect and in the Swedish justice system."

“We have accessed material that the police and the justice system have chosen not to make public. This shows that this case is more complicated than we expected at the start of our investigation,” Berg concludes.

Executive producer on the project Hanka Kastelicová says: “Pray, Obey, Kill is complex, grim, dramatic and more proof that life itself writes the most unbelievable stories.”

Pray, Obey, Kill is being produced by Ruth Reid (Warner Bros ITVP Sweden) for HBO Europe, and Berg, Johnson and Martina Iacobaeus are serving as executive producers. The executive producers for HBO Europe are Kastelicová, Hanne Palmquist and Antony Root. It is slated for release in the spring.

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