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Nordic Content Powers Up Haugesund Market

The increasing international focus on Nordic content the main reason explained market director, said market head Gyda Velvin Myklebust

HAUGESUND, Norway — A record number of 440 Nordic and international film professionals have registered for the 23rd New Nordic Films market at the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund, now the largest Nordic film market

It opens on Tuesday Aug. 22 at Haugesund’s Edda Theatre with the announcement of the nominations for the Nordic Council Film Prize, one of the largest and most prestigious awards in the Nordic countries.

“In the last couple of years, the international focus on Nordic content has been increasing, which is the main reason for the growing participation,” said market director Gyda Velvin Myklebust, who has been in charge of the operation for 15 years. 

She added that another reason was the market’s presentation of films “on four levels”: Graduation movies from Nordic film schools; screenplays for new features; works-in-progress and completed features – as well as the projects in the Nordic Co-Production and Finance Market.”

Danish screenwriter Jens Dahl’s directorial debut, “3 Things” (“3 Ting”), starring Nicolai Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”) and Birgitte Hjorth Sørensen (“Borgen”), will open market screening of 23 features, including Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner, “The Square,” Danish director Per Fly’s “Backstabbing for Beginners,” with Theo James and Ben Kingsley in the leads, Swedish director Jens Assur’s “Ravens” (“Korparna”) and Finnish director Zaida Bergroth’s “Miami.” Icelandic directors Grímur Hákonarson’s “Winter Brothers” (“Vinterbrødre), which won a top prize in Locarno, and Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson’s “Under the Tree” (“Undir trénu”), which is bound for Venice, will also screen, with Norwegian director Kim Hiorthøy’s feature debut, “The Rules for Everything.”

20 works-in-progress – Nordic films in post-production – have been selected for the market, which for the second time include eight contenders for the Eurimages Lab Project Award of €50,000 ($59,000), sourced in part from the Karlovy Vary, Thessaloniki and Les Arcs in France festivals. The entries in the Scandinavian Debut Pitch must be experimental in production form or narrative style, with a cutting-edge approach.

Otherwise, Danish director Ole Bornedal, who is also represented in the festival by his latest feature ”Small Town Killers” (”Dræberne fra Nibe”), will talk about ”The Way to Mandalay” (”Så længe jeg lever”), his biopic on one of Denmark’s most beloved musicians, John Mogensen (1928-1977): Mogensen started in the Four Jacks quartet, became a popular solo artist from 1971 to his death from a heart attack, due to extensive alcohol abuse.

Icelandic director Kristín Jóhannedóttir’s ”Alma” follows a young refugee in Iceland, who is serving time for the murder of her boyfriend, whom she does not remember. When she learns he is alive, she decides to escape and kill him. In Slovenian director Sonja Prosenc’s ”History of Love,” a Norwegian co-production, Iva’s mother dies, and while mourning she discovers she had a secret relation with one of her workmates. Her image of the family starts to fall apart.

In ”Ploey – You Never Fly Alone (”Ló – Þú flygur aldrei einn) Icelandic director Árni Ólafur Ásgeirsson uses animation to tell the story of Ploey, a plover chick who has not learned to fly when his family migrates in the fall, and must survive the Arctic winter, vicious enemies and himself, to be reunited with his beloved next spring. Finnish director Arto Halonen will introduce a psychological thriller based on true events, ”The Guardian Angel,” portraying a man who used hypnosis to turn another man into a robber and a murderer in post-war Copenhagen.

This year the Nordic Co-Production and Finance Market includes 17 projects from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, Estonia, Georgia and Turkey, and the Nordic Film & TV Fund will present the last seven of 23 projects in its Nordic Genre Boost development initiative. The participants have each received a NOK 200,000 ($25,000) grant and been in a development process taking in two residential workshops, the last in Haugesund.

Books@Haugesund is a new pitching initiative, where Nordic book agents will propose five books suitable for filming to the industry, and Scandinavian Debut – also new and organized with regional film centres – will introduce 10 newcomers with pitches competing for a NOK 50,000 ($6,300) award. Scriptwriters in Search of a Producer will take place for the sixth time, allowing six Nordic screenwriters to talk up their latest works to producers and film funds.

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