Haugesund: New Europe Film Sales Drives Further into Nordic Films

Warsaw-based sales company sells ‘Winter Brothers’ and ‘Under the Tree’ at Haugesund’s Norwegian Intl. Film Festival, boards Icelandic director Grímur Hákonarson's 'The County'

Winter Brothers
Courtesy: Alibi Communications

Jan Naszewski’s New Europe Film Sales has signed international sales rights on the “The County,” the new feature by Icelandic director Grímur Hákonarson, whose “Rams” (Hrutar), also sold by New Europe, won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival, among another 29 awards, including 11 Eddas — Iceland’s national film prizes.

Produced by Iceland’s Netop Films, the company behind “Rams” and Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson’s Venice-bound “Under the Tree,” “The County” follows Inga, a middle-aged dairy farmer. After her husband’s death, Inga “decides to start a new life on her own terms and rises up against corruption and injustice in her community,” according to a statement. With Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir in the lead, Netop producer Grímar Jónsson will produce the project with Denmark’s Profile Pictures and France’s Haut et Court. The film will be ready in January 2019.

“The County” is just the latest Scandinavian movie to join the sales slate of New Europe, which since Poland’s Naszweski launched it in 2010, has handled a large number of films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden at the international markets.

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“Nordic filmmakers are excellent storytellers with a sense of humor and great taste,” Naszewski said.

At the Norwegian Intl. Film Festival in Haugesund, which runs Aug. 19-25, New Europe will screen two more Nordic films, including Icelandic director Hlynur Pálmason’s feature debut “Winter Brothers” (Vinterbrødre), which last week won three awards at Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival: Best actor for Danish lead Elliott Crosset Hove, the Europa Cinemas Label and the Junior Jury’s First Prize.

On show at Haugesund’s Nordic Focus and scripted by Pálmason, the film is produced by Julie Waltersdorph Hansen for Copenhagen’s Masterplan Pictures. It follows two brothers who work at a chalk-pit mine in Denmark, their routines, habits, rituals and a violent feud that erupts between them and another family in what the director describes as “a tale of a lack of love… an odyssey set in a working-class environment during a cold winter.”

In the New Nordic Films market program, New Europe Film Sales will launch Icelandic director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson’s “Under the Tree” (Undir trénu), his third feature, which has been selected for the Horizons section at Venice Film Festival. It has already been sold to China (Times Vision), France (Bac Films) and Scandinavia (Scanbox).

Scripted by Sigurdsson and Huldar Breidfjörd, his co-writer on 2014’s award-winning “Paris of the North” (París norðursins), starring Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson, “Under the Tree” tells the story of Atli, who is thrown out by his fiancée and is no longer allowed to see their four-year-old daughter. While fighting for custody, a bitter dispute with neighbors about a big and beautiful tree intensifies.

The former head of Poland’s largest film industry event, Wroclaw’s T-Mobile New Horizons Intl. Film Festival, Naszewski originally set up New Europe Film Sales as a sales company for short films. But he gradually moved into features. The company’s first milestone was “Rams”.

“We work with emerging talent which we nurture, and we have a strong focus on Scandinavia,” Naszewski said.