Haugesund: New Nordic Films Showcases Fresh Scandi Fare

HAUGESUND, Norway — Hosted in the middle of summertime in a cool-weathered small Norwegian town, the Haugesund Film Festival’s New Nordic Films has beefed up its program significantly in order to lure jaded industryites for few days before the start of fall festivals’ Tsunami.

New Nordic Films has indeed broadened its scope year after year to firm up its position as one of Scandinavia’s top two confabs — along with Goteborg’s market. Aside from presenting 22 completed movies, including 16 market premieres, New Nordic Films will showcase 11 pics in post in the Works in Progress section, while the co-production forum will introduce participants to 24 projects in development, including seven genre titles –  pitched as part of the Nordic Genre Boost sidebar, an event co-hosted by the Nordisk Film & TV Fond.

Among the productions presented in the Works In Progress section, some of the most anticipated titles are Greenlandic helmer Pipaluk K. Jørgensen’s romance drama “Anori,” Norwegian director Rasmus A. Sivertsen’s animated feature “Louis & Nolan — The Big Cheese Race,” and Norwegian up-and-comer Rune Denstad Langlo’s satirical dramedy “Primus Motor.”

Also anticipated: Swedish director Hannes Holm’s comedy/drama “A Man Called Ove,” famed-Swedish-actress-turned-filmmaker Pernilla August’s period romance “A Serious Game,” Norwegian vet Nils Gaup’s historical drama “The Last King” and Icelandic director Oskar Jonasson’s romance “In Front of Others.”

“In Front of Others,” produced by Truenorth, centers on a doomed romance between a withdrawn graphic designer and a school teacher. Jonasson’s credits include “Reykjavik Rotterdam,” which was remade in the U.S. as “Contraband.” “In Front of Others” doesn’t have a sales agent.

TrustNordisk reps “A Man Called Ove,” produced by Tre Vänner; “A Serious Game,” produced by B-Reel; and “The Last King,” produced by Paradox.

Gaup’s eighth feature, “The Last King,” is set against the backdrop of Norway’s civil war in 1205.

“A Man Called Ove” centers around a 59-year old grumpy and iron-fisted man who strikes a friendship with a pregnant woman who has just moved in with her family across from his home.

Based on Hjalmar Söderberg’s eponymous novel and penned by Lone Scherfig (“An Education”), “A Serious Game” depicts the fiery and epic passion between Arvid Stjärnblom, a journalist, and Lydia Stille, daughter of a painter.

“Primus Motor,” produced by Motlys and sold by Beta Media, follows the journey of a financially struggling Norwegian mountain resort hotel owner with a racist streak who decides to work a state-funded asylum reception center, where he has to deal with 50 unruly refugees, most of them Muslims and Arabic-speakers.

“Louis & Nolan — The Big Cheese Race” bring back the popular characters of “The Christmas of Louis & Nolan,” which Sivertsen directed in 2013. It’s produced by Maipo Film and sold by Sola Media.

Produced by Karitas Production, “Anori” focuses on a pop singer whose life is turned upside down after she unexpectedly falls in love with an Arctic Command officer she’s just met while touring in a small village of Greenland. Pic doesn’t have a sales agent.

“The breadth and diversity of projects we’re presenting illustrate just how much our Nordic film industry has matured in the last few years; we’re not only into Nordic noir and book adaptations,” said Gyda Velvin Myklebust, who runs New Nordic Films with Roger Grosvold. “The coming of age of the Nordic TV industry has contributed to the emergence of a new generation of talented actors, directors, screenwriters and producers from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.”

Underscoring the importance of films’ development process, New Nordic Films will also give five screenwriters the opportunity to present their scripts in partnership with the Writers Guild of Norway.

This year’s New Nordic Films edition will host a panel and workshop discussing the changing role of festivals in promoting arthouse movies, allowing them to travel and serving as a launchpad for emerging directors.

Indeed, with the decline in independent theaters and TV acquisitions, festivals have become one of the main revenue sources for arthouse films, argued Myklebust.

Organized with the Norwegian Film Institute, the focus on festivals serves the double purpose of addressing an issue relevant to world cinema bizzers, as well as attracting top-level international execs, including Christian Jeune, the deputy of Cannes Film Festival topper Thierry Fremaux, who will make his first trip to Haugesund. Other participants include Heidi Zwicker, Sundance’s associate programmer; Guillaume Calop, managing director of Les Arcs festival; Jonas Holmberg, Göteborg Film Festival’s artistic director; and Linde Fröhlich, artistic director at Nordic Film Days Lübeck.

As New Nordic Films looks to cater to international execs searching for Scandinavia talent, the market will also showcase the Next Nordic Generation in collaboration with local film schools.

Over 310 participants, including 20 sales execs from the biggest arthouse companies worldwide, are expected to turn up. Returning attendees include reps from Busan, Tribeca and Sundance.

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