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Haugesund Prizes ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire,’ ‘Him,’ ‘Ballon’

HAUGESUND, Norway  —  Celine Sciamma’s intellectually dexterous, bittersweet love tale “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” has claimed another heart, taking home The Norwegian Film-Critics’ Prize at the Haugesund Film Festival’s closing night on Thursday.

The festival, which runs over August 17-23, capped its 47th edition with a screening of André Løyning and Kristian Landmark’s documentary

Sciamma’s revisionist romance won the screenplay prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May and will next head to Toronto, where it will screen as a Special Presentation.

“With elegance, sophistication and courage, the film explores how love and vitality can – at least momentarily – throw off the shackles of an oppressive social order.  Exquisite acting performances and cinematography, combined with a soupcon of mythological symbolism, add up to a work of serious artistic merit,” noted the jury members in their verdict.

The Eurimages Lab Award went to director Guro Bruusgaard’s “Him.” Awarded to a Works in Progress title that is experimental in form and content, the prize comes with a €50,000 ($55,500) grant. The jury also gave a special mention to Ninja Thyberg’s project “Jessica.”

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Other prizes included the audience award, which went to Michael Herbig for his film “Ballon;” the Ecumenical Award, which was won by Jeanne Herry’s adoption drama “In Safe Hands”; and the Fipresci Prize, which lauded Danish director Michael Noer took home for his “Before The Frost.”

On the business side, buyers, sales agents and fest programmers that had made the trip to test creative trends in the Nordics and gauge potential film pickups, were particularly upbeat. Unlike in recent years where the six-to-seven Eurimages Lab Project entries were widely-viewed as too experimental for global audiences, this year’s crop was perhaps the strongest ever.

Several Eurimages prize contenders were even among the most buzzed about at New Nordic Films. Besides the two winning films “Him” and “Jessica”, other hot entries were the kids movie “Sisters,” tagged by Norwegian producer Gary Cranner of Chezville, as a “Terence Malick for kids”, or “Nimby,” Teemu Nikki’s comedy take on the hipster intolerance.

Elsewhere, buzz work in progress titles took in the music doc biopic  “a-ha-The Movie” by Thomas Robsahm, the children’s movie “The Crossing” by Johanne Helgeland, the latest sample of the great Nordic kids storytelling tradition, and the “Skam” flavored “@Chica Chile Norway” by Ingvild Søderlind.

“The Good Traitor,” by Christina Rosendahl, set Haugesund industry auds smiling as the biopic about WWII Danish U.S. ambassador Henrik Kauffmann, nicknamed the King of Greenland, felt close to the current Trump/Danish uproar.

For many commercially-oriented distributors, the large array of Nordic suspense movies –such as TrustNordisk’s “Breaking the Surface”, “The Tunnel”-felt like safer bets in a generally tough market for foreign language fare.

WINNERS AT THE 2019 47TH NORWEGIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL IN HAUGESUND:

THE NORWEGIAN CRITICS’ PRIZE:

“Portrait of Lady on Fire.” Dir: Céline Sciamma (France)

SPECIAL MENTION:

“Koko-di Koko-da.” Dir: Johannes Nyholm (Sweden, Denmark)

INTERNATIONAL CRITICS’ FIPRESCI PRIZE:

“Before the Frost.” Dir: Michael Noer (Denmark)

AUDIENCE AWARD:

“Ballon.” Dir: Michael Herbig (Germany).

THE ANDREAS ECUMENICAL AWARD:

“In Safe Hands.” Dir: Jeanne Herry (France).

THE RAY OF SUNSHINE:

“Fisherman’s Friends.” Dir: Chris Foggin (UK)

THE EURIMAGES LAB PROJECT AWARD:

“Him.” Dir: Guro Bruusgaard (Norway)

SPECIAL MENTIONS:

“Jessica.” Dir: Ninja Thyberg (Sweden)

BEST PROJECT AWARD:

“Let the River Flow.” Dir: Ole Giæver (Norway)

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