The Nordic Co-Production and Finance Market at the Norwegian Intl. Film Festival will open Aug. 23 as the largest edition yet. A record number of 419 participants, and 28 new films in the main program, is given heft by the addition for the first time of the Eurimages Lab Award Project with 20 works-in-progress, adding to with 26 new productions (seven of them in the Nordic Genre Boost program).

“Several films in this year’s festival have been selected as a work-in-progress or project, and producers are increasingly saying it was important for them in order to [get the film made],” said market director Gyda Velvin Myklebust. “We also get positive feedback from sales agents, buyers, festival representatives, film funds and commissioners – and we are pleased to be able to support more cutting edge productions through the new Eurimages Lab Award.”

At last year’s Nordic Co-Production and Finance Market, French international sales company Films Distribution picked up international sales for both Norwegian director Arild Andresen’s “Handle With Care” and Icelandic director Gudmunder Arnar Gudmundsson’s “Heartstone.” “Handle With Care” has now returned as a work-in-progress, while ‘Heartstone’ premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

One of the four European festivals (with Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, Thessaloniki in Greece and Les Arcs in France) working with the Eurimages Project Lab, Haugesund will award the winning project €50,000, decided by a jury comprising Norwegian director Bent Hamer, Sundance Film Festival programmer Heidi Zwicker and head of New Screen-new talents at the Netherlands Film Fund, Dorien van de Pas.

The main market program at New Nordic Films is co-organized with the Norwegian Film Institute and Nordic sales agents, looking to showcase new Nordic features with the largest international potential. “It reflects another great Nordic film year, ranging between major productions to smaller art films, offering something to everybody’s taste – 18 of the 28 entries are being screened for the first time,” Myklebust said.

Danish award-winning screen writer Rasmus Heisterberg, who has worked on scripts for Danish directors Nikolaj Arcel, Michael Noer and Mikkel Nørgaard  will present his directorial debut, “In the Blood,” from Profile Pictures, and Norwegian director Izer Aliu will show his feature debut, “Hunting Flies,” produced by Norway’s Storyline Pictures, one of four new films he is working on.

The 20 works-in-progress (competing for the Eurimages Lab award) include Norwegian director Jørn Utkilen’s first feature, “Lake Over Fire” (from Ape&Bjørn), described as “an absurd Western comedy.” Norwegian director Arild Østen Ommundsen’s “Not It’s Dark,” from Chezville, is the “Mongoland” (2001) director’s fourth feature; and Danish director Annika Berg’s “Forever 13” (Adomeit Film), starring a cast of real people, not actors, and no script, as is the director’s habit.

For the Nordic Co-Production and Finance Market line-up, the organisers has reduced an overwhelming number of submissions to 19, keeping, ao, Danish director Daniel Dencik’s fable “1000 R.I.P” (Haslund/Dencik Entertainment); Icelandic director Ásthilur Kjartansdóttir’s “The Deposit” (“Tryggdarpantur”/Askja Films); Norwegian director Marius Holst’s “Robbery” (“Ran”/Fantefilm Fiksjon); and Danish director Martin Skovbjerg’s “Sticks and Stones” (“Brakland”/Snowglobe).

Co-planned by program coordinator Øystein Egge, Haugesund’s New Nordic Films is collaborating with the Nordic Film Market at Sweden’s  Göteborg Film Festival promoting Scandinavian cinema. Next Göteborg market will take place between Feb. 1-5, during that festival, which runs Jan. 27-Feb. 6, 2017.

Nordic films in 2016 have nabbed some top awards at international festivals: Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen’s boxing film, “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki,” from Finland’s Aamu Film Company, Germany’s One Two Films, Sweden’s Film Väst and SF Studios, won the top prize at Un Certain Regard at this year’s Cannes; Danish-Afghan director Shahrbanoo Sadat’s “Wolf and Sheep,” produced by Katja Adomeit for Denmark’s Adomeit Film, won the festival’s CICAE Art Cinema award.

Swedish director Amanda Kernell’s “Sámi Blood” (“Sameblod”), produced by Sweden’s Nordisk Film Productions, portrays a reindeer-breeding Sámi girl exposed to racism in 1930s Sweden, will screen at Venice; Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjærg’s “Pyromaniac” (“Pyromanen”), from Norway’s Aage Aaberge and Giør Film, has been selected for Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema.