HAUGESUND, Norway — Director Joachim Trier’s “Thelma,” which opened the 45th Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund on Aug. 20, won the Norwegian Critics’ Prize, one of the top awards at the event which wrapped on Thursday night with the closing night screening of Finnish director Dome Karukoski’s “Tom of Finland.”
Lionized by Norwegian critics – one announcing “a new triumph for Trier”- the director is now bound for Toronto for the film’s international premiere.
Of further big winners at this year’s Haugesund Festival, Swedish director Jesper Ganslandt “Jimmie” – represented by Swedish producer Hedvig Lundgren – took the €50,000 ($59,000) Eurimages Lab Project Prize.
First seen at Goteborg, “Young Dreams,” from Sweden’s “Rojda Sekersöz, about a young woman ex-con’s battle to go straight despite peer pressure and a hostile society, took the Fipresci Intl. Federation of Film Critics’ Prize.
“Artistically we could not have had a better start than ‘Thelma,’ but most of the festival selection has filled the cinemas, so audience-wise we have been quite successful,” said festival and program director Tonje Hardersen.
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Hardersen added that the festival’s two new initiatives – Books@Haugesund, where literary agents met the Nordic film industry and pitched suitable titles to producers; the new section introducing TV drama, including two world premieres of Norwegian series – was “well received by the film professionals.”
As the New Nordic Film market drew to a close on Thursday afternoon, several films had emerged from the 23 films screenings and 20 works in progress pitched over Aug, 23-24, many of them directed by newcomers, sending positive signs about a Nordic industry able to reinvent itself.
Svend Jensen, head of Arthaus, one of Norway’s leading arthouse distribution companies, said he was “impressed by the number of convincing debut features.”
“Although not perfect, many debut films very strong, both in terms of content and imagery-There are definitely half a dozen new Nordic talents to watch out for,” he added.
Of market screenings, the biggest buzz titles among buyers were also festival picks, handled by auteur-oriented sales companies such as New Europe Film Sales’ Icelandic films “Winter Brothers” by Hlynur Pálmason and “Under the Tree” by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson, and Celluloid Dreams’ Swedish film “Ravens” by Jens Assur and Danish film “Valley of Shadows” by Jonas Matzow Guldbransen.
Birgitte Stærmose’s third feature “Darling” attracted attention for its cast (Gustav Skarsgård, Danica Curcic) and ballet storyline. The Danish film is sold by TrustNordisk.
In the works in progress, the most popular pitches were also directorial debuts: Music drama “The Violin Player” by Finnish screenwriter-turned director Paavo Westerberg and the period film “Christian IV “ by Kasper Skovsbøl (both available for world sales at press time).
In a tough market for foreign-language films, family fare offering dubbing opportunities were being tracked carefully. Two cases to point: Danish film “Wild Witch” by Kaspar Munk (TrustNordisk), praised for its cinematography and use of live animals, and the Icelandic animated “Ploey-You Never Fly Alone” (Arri Media).
The Norwegian hybrid animated film “The Tower” by Mat Grorud also caught attention for its topical subject matter about refugees and hope for a better future.
Gyda Velvin Myklebust, head of the New Nordic Films market, registered a record 450 participants for the four-day market schedule of 23 films and four TV series and introduced 52 films in production or as works-in-progress at the Edda or the Scandic Maritim.
Earlier this week Haugesund mayor Arne-Christian Mohn presented Norwegian distributor Frida Ohrvik with the Faun of Haugesund, an honorary prize to a frequent festival visitor who has promoted Norwegian cinema and film. Ohrvik is CEO and owner of local distributor Norsk Filmdistribusjon, which she founded in 1990.
The Hestenes Award to a journalist went to art critic and Kunzt blogger Silje Mariann Engja Sigurdsen, while Haugesund’s The Blazing Seagulls honorary prize for an outstanding effort for the city went to former bishop Erling Pettersen.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS AT THE 45TH NORWEGIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL IN HAUGESUND:
THE NORWEGIAN CRITICS’ PRIZE:
“Thelma.” Dir: Joachim Trier.
INTERNATIONAL CRITICS’ FIPRESCI PRIZE:
“Beyond Dreams” (“Dröm vidare”). Dir: Rojda Sekersöz (Sweden)
“Bye Bye Germany.” Dir: Sam Garbarsky (Germany).
THE ANDREAS ECUMENICAL AWARD:
“Jupiter’s Moon.” Dir: Kornél Mundruczó (Hungary).
THE SOWER OF JOY:
“The Big Sick.” Dir: Michael Showalter (US).
THE NORDIC DEBUT AWARD:
“Library of God” (“Guds bibliotek”). Dir: Stian Hafstad (Norway). Prod: Ine Remme.
NEXT NORDIC GENERATION AWARD:
“Little Dancer” (“Lille danser”). Dir: Nils Holst-Jensen (National Film School of Denmark)
“Land of Our Fathers” (“Fædreland”). Dir: Ulaa Salim
“Schoolyard Blues” (“Skolstartssorg”). Dir: Maria Eriksson
THE EURIMAGES LAB PROJECT AWARD:
“Jimmie”. Dir: Jesper Ganslandt (Sweden). Prods: Jesper Kurlandsky, Hedvig Lundgren, Juan Libossart, for Fasad.
“Alma”. Dir: Kristín Jóhannedóttir (Iceland)
“The Second Sex” (“Det annet kjønn”). Dir: Katja Eyde Jacobsen (Norway)
BEST PROJECT AWARD:
“My Wife, My Replica and I! (“Klone og kone”). Dir: Ole Giæver (Norway). Prod: Maria Ekerhovd, for Mer Film
THE BEST SCRIPT PITCH AWARD:
“War, What If”. Dir: Puk Grasten