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Haugesund Film Fest Celebrates French, Scandi Cinema

HAUGESUND Norway — Roar Uthaug’s “The Wave,” Joachim Trier’s “Louder Than Bombs,” Kari Anne Moe’s “Rebels,” Stig Björkman’s “Ingrid Bergman — In Her Own Words” and Dagur Kári’s “Virgin Mountain” are among the Nordic highlights set to play at the 43rd Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund.

Paying homage to Gallic cinema, the festival will host a French Touch section featuring Philippe Garrel’s “In the Shadow of Women,” which opened at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight; Stephane Brize’s “The Measure of a Man,” a Cannes competition entry that earned its star Vincent Lindon a best actor award; as well as another alumnus of this year’s Cannes’ Directors Fortnight: Arnaud Desplechin’s “My Golden Years.” The French Touch sidebar is completed by Cedric Jimenez’s thriller “The Connection” with Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche, which bowed at last year’s Toronto, and Melanie Laurent’s “Breathe,” which opened last year at Cannes’ Critics’ Week.

“This year’s festival will have a strong French flavor,” said Haugesund’s artistic director Håkon Skogrand, pointing out that in addition to the 10 French films shown at the festival, 19 pics are French co-productions. “Nearly half of the films we’re showing have French money in them,” noted the festival exec.

Skogrand admitted Haugesund wasn’t big on world premieres but explained the fest was non-competitive and had been mainly created to allow Norwegian exhibitors to discover the best Nordic films and world cinema titles and ultimately encourage the theatrical distribution of these pics. The number of Nordic films shown in Norwegian theaters has declined over the years. Only half of the films shown in the Nordic section have secured domestic distribution, per Skogrand.

The Nordic Focus will play Klaus Härö’s “The Fencer,” a period drama loosely based on Endel Nelis’ life; Daniel Dencik’s Danish historical drama “Gold Coast,” which has earned some critical raves; Dome Karukoski’s Finnish dramedy “The Grump”; Michael Noer’s naturalistic drama “Key House Mirror”; Baldvin Zophoníasson’s Icelandic B.O. hit “Life in a Fishbowl”; Sanna Lenken’s “My Skinny Sister,” which won Goteborg’s and Berlin’s Crystal Bear; and “Virgin Mountain,” which took Tribeca’s best film actor (Gunnar Jonsson) and script awards.

The main program will showcase mostly international movies that have previously played at prestigious festivals. These include Jafar Panahi’s Berlin Golden Bear winner “Taxi”; Jonathan Demme’s Locarno bow “Ricki and the Flash,” with Meryl Streep; Matteo Garrone’s Cannes’ Palme d’Or contender “Tale of Tales”; Oliver Hirschbiegel’s “13 Minutes”and Andrew Haigh’s “45 Years,” winner of two nods at Berlin.

Also in the lineup: Sebastian Schipper’s Berlin’s Silver Bear winner “Victoria”; Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Cannes laureate “The Assassin”; Francesco Munzi’s “Black Souls”; George Ovashvili’s Karlovy Vary topper “Corn Island”; Simon Curtis’ “Woman in Gold”; Wim Wenders’ “Every Thing Will Be Fine”; Brazilian Anna Muylaert’s Sundance and Berlin-prized “The Second Mother”; David Oelhoffen’s “Far From Men,” with Viggo Mortensen; Martti Helde’s admired “In the Crosswind”; Nanni Moretti’s Cannes-competition player “Mia Madre”; and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Our Little Sister,” which also competed at Cannes.

High-profile French and Scandinavian films also feature in the main program, notably Jaco Van Dormael’s Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight player “A Brand New Testament”; Jacques Audiard’s Cannes’ Palme d’Or-winning “Dheepan”; Maïwenn’s “Mon Roi” (pictured above), which earned Bercot a best actress award in Cannes; as well as “Louder Than Bombs,” “The Wave,” “Rebels,” Bille August’s “Silent Heart” and Marah Strauch’s extreme sports critics’ fave “Sunshine Superman.”

The festival kicked off Saturday, Aug. 15, with Hallvard Braein’s “Burning” snatching four prizes, including best picture, at Norway’s national film awards ceremony, the Amandas. Haugesund will wrap with “Louder Than Bombs” on August 21.

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