Norway’s Sara Johnsen has won the 2020 Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize for her writing on NRK’s “22 July,” a six-part painstaking – and often inevitably pained – reconstruction using fictional composite characters but often meticulously recreated scenes of how Norway reacted to its 2011 terror attacks.
The award, for outstanding screenwriting, was presented to Johnsen at a ceremony on Wednesday evening at the TV Drama Vision section of this week’s Göteborg Film Festival in Sweden. The kudos comes with a NOK 200,000 ($21,800) cash endowment.
Best known as the writer-director of award-winning feature films – “Kissed by Winter”, “Upperdog,” “All That Matters is Past” – Johnsen served as head writer on “22 July,” a series created for Norwegian pubcaster production arm NRK Drama by Johnsen and Pål Sletaune and directed by Sletaune. It is distributed by the U.K.-based DRG, part of the Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT).
Not to be confused with Paul Greengrass’ Netflix movie,”22 July” is not a record of Anders Behring Breivik’s appalling massacre of 77 campers on the Island of Utoya on July 22 but rather, influenced by “The Wire,” as Johnsen told Variety in the build up to Göteborg, a fictionalized account of how Norwegian public services coped with the terror attacks.
It records the heroic performance of Oslo hospitals, which saved the lives off all but one of the attack victims brought to them, and the valiant grind of two journalists at at Oslo’s Aftenposten, Norway’s biggest newspaper, to understand and report on the bamboozling lack of preparation and manpower of Norway’s police forces to confront the impossible, a homegrown terror attack.
One detail, exposed in later episode: Norwegian Emergency intervention Delta Force sailed to Utøya from the wrong place -neighboring island Storøya – and its dingy near sank, its occupants being rescued by boats belonging to mainland campers.
Johnsen wrote episodes of “Occuped,” another banner NRK drama series. “22 July” marks her first series as a head writer, however, and in the final analysis, a swingeing rebuff of newfangled public management thinking, while asking to what extent assailant Anders Behring Breivik’s childhood could have pushed him to such appalling crime.
“Drama is a powerful tool, that should be used wisely. Especially when it comes to portraying stories inspired by real events,” said this year’s Jury.
“The jury was blown away by the bravery on how to tell a story respectfully and still grasp its emotional core. This year’s winner of the Nordic TV Drama Screenplay Award is: 22 July!” this year’s Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize jury said in a written statement.
Its members took in prominent Norwegian actor Jakob Oftebro (“Agent Hamilton,” “1864,” “Kon-Tiki”), Swedish actor Moa Gammel (“Jordskott,” “Tommy”), Polish award-winning producer- director Dariusz Jabłoński (“Photographer,” “The Pleasure Principle”) and Norwegian journalist Cecilie Asker, who works for the Aftenposten.