Joachim Trier’s ‘Thelma’ Opens Nordic Encounter in Haugesund

Unspooling Aug. 20-25, the 45th Norwegian Int. Film Festival also focuses for the first time on TV series and book rights

Norwegian actress Eili Harboe in "Thelma".
Photo: Motlys

Norwegian director Joachim Trier – whose latest feature, the English-language “Louder than Bombs,” was Norway’s first contender for the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 36 years and won, among other plaudits, the Nordic Council’s Film Prize – will launch the 45th Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund. Unspooling on Norway’s west coast, it runs Aug. 20-25.

”Trier is one of our most important filmmakers and all his films have been on show here, so of course it is a pleasure to start with ‘Thelma,’” said festival and program director Tonje Hardersen, close to finishing the festival schedule. Starring Norwegian actress Eili Harboe, the film is a supernatural thriller about a young woman who falls in love and discovers she has frightening and inexplicable powers.

”Thelma” will be the first of so far 78 films from 24 countries in the program and one of the rather few local entries in this year’s selection, compared to 2016. That is “more or less” a coincidence, Hardersen explained.

She added: ”There were few new features ready, and some had already been chosen for other international festivals. But there will be plenty of upcoming Norwegian productions in the market sections.”

Norway’s premier and largest festival – and, with Sweden’s Göteborg Festival, the largest meeting point for the Nordic film industry – will focus on new films from Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden.

”This time there is not so much Nordic Noir, but a more varied program, such as two comedies from Denmark, including Danish director Ole Bornedal’s ”Small Town Killers.”

The international main program comprises some of the top films from the 2017 festivals, such as Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi’s ”On Body and Soul,” which won the 2017 Berlinale Golden Bear, and Sofia Coppola’s ”The Beguiled,” the remake of the Don Siegel-Clint Eastwood 1971 feature, which merited a Best Director prize at Cannes.

Unspooling between Aug 22-25, New Nordic Films – the Nordic film market and Nordic Co-Production and Finance Forum – has not yet completed it lineup, but market director Gyda Velvin Myklebust expected around the same number of participants as last year’s record 420. Besides presenting about 25 new film projects approximately 20 works-in-progress, she is organizing a German Focus, the Eurimages Lab Project with a €50,000 ($57,650) prize for the most promising entry, and a new Scandinavian Debuts selection.

“Norwegian television series have become an important part of the film landscape,” said Hardersen, who has for the first time added a TV section to the Haugesund schedule, with the premieres of two series seasons, “Occupied 2,” from Norwegian commercial broadcaster TV2, on Aug. 21 in the presence of Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjærg and actors Henrik Mestad, Janne Heltberg and Eldar Skar, and ”Norsemen 2,” aired by Norwegian pubcaster NRK, which will be shown on Aug 23.

Just prior to the festival, on Aug. 19, the Amanda national film awards will be presented for the thirty-third time at Haugesund’s Scandic Maritim Hall. Norwegian director Erik Poppe’s “The King’s Choice” (“Kongens nei”) has received a record 12 nominations in 11 categories for the prize and will be screened with four competitors in the festival program; Norwegian author and film critic Erlend Loe is leading the Amanda jury; the show will be hosted by Norwegian actress Pia Tjelta and aired by Norway’s TV2.

This year, the Nordic Council will present the nominations for its annual film award – Scandinavia’s most prestigious film prize, which comes with €37,000 ($42,660) – on Aug. 22 – and the five contenders will be on show in a special program. Up-and-coming Norwegian actors Tarjei Sandvik Moe and Iman Meskini – the leads in Norwegian pubcaster NRK’s world-famous “Shame” (“Skam”) TV series – will be on stage to announce the potential winners before the final decision on Nov 1.

For the first time, the festival will organize Books at Haugesund, modeled on the Books at the Berlinale event during the Berlin Intl. Film Festival. There on Aug. 22, literary agents from the Nordic countries will pitch five books suitable for filming to Nordic producers before one-to-one meetings. The Norwegian ArcFest, an architectural event, will feed into the film festival with a program of films, lectures and seminars between Aug. 21-23.


“120 Beats per Minute” (“120 Battements par Minute”). Dir: Robin Campillo (France). Prod: Les Films de Pierre.

“God’s Own Country.” Dir: Francis Lee (U.K.). Prods: Inflammable Films, Magic Bear Productions, Met Film Production, Shudder Films.

”Good Time.” Dirs: Ben Safdie, Joshua Safdie (U.S.). Prods: Elara Pictures, Rhea Films (II).

”Happy End.” Dir: Michael Haneke (Austria). Prods: Les Films du Losange, X-Filme Creative Pool, Wega Film.

”Jupiter’s Moon” (”Jupiter holdja”). Dir: Kornél Mundruczó (Hungary). Prods: KNM, Match Factory Productions, Proton Cinema, Pyramide Films, ZDF/Arte.

”Kills on Wheels” (”Tiszta szívvel”). Dir: Attila Till (Hungary). Prod: Lakoon Filmgroup.

”On Body and Soul” (”A Testról’s Lélekról”). Dir: Ildikó Enyedi (Hungary). Prod: Inforg – M&M Film Kft.

”The Beguiled.” Dir: Sofia Coppola (U.S.). Prods: American Zoetrope, FR Productions.

”The Big Sick.” Dir: Michael Showalter (U.S.). Prods: Apatow Productions, FilmNation Entertainment.

”The Glass Castle”. Dir: Destin Daniel Cretton (U.S.). Prods: Lionsgate, Netter Productions.

”Thelma.” Dir: Joachim Trier (Norway). Prod: Motlys.


“Beyond Dreams” (“Dröm vidare”). Dir: Rojda Sekersöz (Sweden). Prod: 2afilm.

”Dan Dream.” Dir: Jesper Rofelt (Denmark). Prod: Nutmeg Movies.

“Garden Lane” (“Trädgårdsgatan”). Dir: Olof Spaak (Sweden). Prod: Primodrom Produktion.

“Loving Pia” (“At elske Pia”). Dir: Daniel Joseph Borgman (Denmark). Prod: Adomeit Films.

”Small Town Killers” (”Dræberne fra Nibe”). Dir: Ole Bornedal (Denmark). Prod: Miso Film.

”Tom of Finland.” Dir: Dome Karukoski (Finland). Prod: Helsinki-filmi, Anagram Vast, Fridthjof Film, Neutrinos Productions.

”Wendy and the Refugee Neverland.” Dir: Olli Ilpo Salonen (Finland). Prods: Aalto University, ELO Film School Finland.


“About the Birds and the Bees” (“Kukista ja mehiläisistä”). Dir: JJ Vanhanen (Finland). Prod: Tampere University of Applied Sciences.

”Atelier.” Dir: Elsa María Jakobsdóttir (Denmark). Prod: National Film School of Denmark.

”Birthright.” Dirs: Daniel Fure Schwarz, Mauritz Brekke Solberg (Norway). Prod: Westerdals Oslo ACT.

”In a Month” (”Om en måned”). Dir: Jonas Kærup Hjort (Denmark). Prod: National Film School of Denmark.

”Knaster – Radio Edit.” Dir: Neil Wigardt (Sweden). Prod: Academy Valand.

”Land of Our Fathers” (”Fædreland”). Dir: Ulaa Salim (Denmark). Prod: The National Film School of Denmark.

”Schoolyard Blues” (”Skolstartssorg”). Dir: Maria Eriksson (Sweden). Prod: Karimi Film.

”Vita Fortuna.” Dir: Ilona Hiltunen (Finland). Prods: Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in collaboration with Tampere University of Applied Sciences and Villilä Tuotannot. 


“Footloose.” Dir: Herbert Ross (US). Prod: Paramount Pictures.

“Only Yesterday” (“Omohide poro poro”). Dir: Isao Takahata (Japan). Prods: Nippon Television Network (NTV), Studio Ghibli, Studiopolis.

“Quality Time.” Dir: Daan Bakker (Netherlands, Norway). Prods: Pupkin Films, Leader Films, VPRO.

”The Light Between Oceans.” Dir: Derek Cianfrance (UK, New Zealand, USA). Prod: Heyday Films.