Cannes acclaim leads to Haugesund buzz

STOCKHOLM — Norwegian cinema made an important breakthrough in 2006, when it gained international attention at Cannes: Three Norwegian features were shown in the official selection, and a Norwegian short — “Sniffer” from helmer Bobbie Peers — walked away with the Palme d’Or for short film.

The achievements brought an optimism to the Norwegian film industry that continues as 10 Norwegian pics — some making their world preems — are screened at Norway’s annual Haugesund Film Festival, running Aug. 17 to 24.

Of the films in the Haugesund fest, the most buzz surrounds “Gone With the Woman,” a new comedy from “Elling” helmer Petter Naess. The year’s other big Norwegian film is Nils Gaup’s period drama “The Kautikeino Rebellion,” which will open Norway’s other well-known film festival, Tromso, in October.

“There is a great interest in Norwegian film, both abroad and domestically,” says Jan-Erik Holst, executive director of the international department at the Norwegian Film Institute.

This year, the Karlovy Vary Film Festival devoted a section to new Norwegian films.

Holst says even if it was a coincidence that so many good films came out in 2006, members of the Norwegian film industry feel there are several reasons to continue to be optimistic.

In spring, the government decided to spend more money on domestic film based on the successes of 2006. The goal is to produce at least 25 films per year, to get a market share of 20% and to ensure that more women work both behind and in front of the camera. In 1997, a Norwegian film school opened, and in 2001 the first new filmmakers entered the arena. They often work in teams, with producers, directors and cinematographers having studied together. The result has been young, fresh films like “Buddy” and last year’s “Sons.”

There is also a trend for established authors who write original scripts to work with the same director for a few films in a row, Holst says.

But many young first helmers, despite having made good and successful films, don’t get a chance to work again for several years, Holst adds.

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