‘Heartstone,’ ‘Sami Blood’ Among 2017 Nordic Council Film Prize Contenders

‘Parents,’ ‘Little Wing,’ ‘Hunting Flies’ also contend for the prestigious pan-regional prize, awarded Nov. 1

Heartstone Hjartasteinn Venice
Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

HAUGESUND, Norway — Icelandic director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson first feature “Heartstone” (“Hjartasteinn,” pictured) and Swedish director Amanda Kernell’s Sámi Blood” (“Sameblod”) are among the nominees for the Nordic Council Film Prize, the prestigious DKK 350,000 ($55,000) Nordic film award which will find its owner on Nov. 1 during the Council’s session in Helsinki, Finland.

Their competitors are Danish director Christian Tafdrup’s “Parents” (“Forældre”), Finnish director Selma Vilhunen’s “Little Wing” (“Tyttö nimeltä Varpu”) and Norwegian director Izer Aliu’s “Hunting Flies” (“Fluefangeren”), the Nordisk Film & TV Fond announced Tuesday night at the opening of the New Nordic Films market at the 45th Norwegian Intl. Film Festival at Haugesund.

Scripted by Guðmundsson, and produced by Anton Máni Svansson, Lise Orheim Stender, Jesper Morthorst and Guðmundsson, “Heartstone” is set in a small, remote Icelandic fishing village and follows two teenage boys, Þór and Kristján, who are close friends – one is trying to win the heart of a girl, while the other discovers he has new feelings towards his friend. With Baldur Einarsson, Blær Hinriksson and Diljá Valsdóttir in the leads, “Heartstone” swept the national Edda Awards, winning in nine categories, then toured 46 festivals where it picked up 30 prizes, including the Queer Lion in Venice, and top kudos in Angers, Chicago, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Thessaloniki and Warsaw.

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Directed by Sweden’s Kernell, who also wrote her feature debut, “Sámi Blood” has collected international recognition too. It portrays 14-year-old Elle Marja, a reindeer-herding Sámi girl, who is exposed to Sweden’s colonial oppression of the indigenous Lapp people in the 1930s. Undergoing race biology examinations at her boarding school, she starts dreaming of another life, but to achieve this she understands she has to become someone else and break all ties with her family and culture. Starring Lene Cecilia Sparrok, and produced by Lars G. Lindstrom for Nordisk Film Production Sweden, it was named Best Debut in Venice, took main awards in Gothenburg, Santa Barbara, Tokyo and is also among the three contenders for the E.U.’s main film prize, the Lux Film Prize.

A third feature debut, “Parents” by Denmark’s Tafdrup, is introduced as “a true portrait of woman’s dreadful nature”; his own screenplay follows Rasmus, who – when he meets Marie – is sure that finally, here is the love of his life. However, it does not take long before she reveals herself as a possessive and manipulative creature that painfully picks him apart. Anders Juul, Amanda Collin, Rasmus Hammerich and Nicolai Jandorf play the leads in the drama of Marie’s destructive insistence on dominance, while Marta Mieczek and Thomas Heinesen produced for Nordisk Film Production. The Danish Film Academy gave it three Bodils, and Danish Film Critics followed up with three Roberts.

“Little Wing” is the sophomore film by Finland’s Vilhunen, who was nominated for an Oscar for her 2012 short “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?” (“Pitääkó mun kaikki hoitaa?”). Scripted by Kirsikka Saari, it is the story of 12-year-old Varpu, who goes to school and rides ponies and one night steals a car and drives across the country to find the father she has never known. Paula Vesala, Linnea Skogin and Lauri Maijalastar star in the Kai Nordberg and Kaarle Aho production for Making Movies, with has received a Jussi, Finland’s national award.

“Hunting Flies” is the feature debut of Norway’s by Norway’s Aliu, an Albanian born in Macedonia, who grew up in Sweden and is educated and lives in Norway.

The drama turns on an idealistic teacher who loses his job on the first day of school and, in a final attempt to get it back, locks his students up in the classroom, trying to force them to resolve a generation-long conflict between their villages. Also scripted by Aliu, the Khalid Maimouni production for Storyline Pictures has Burhan Amiti, Miraxh Ameti and Hadis Aliov in the leads; it has so far toured six festivals