A wide range of Scandinavian films, including the politically-charged Danish drama “Shorta,” the supernatural Icelandic drama “Lamb” with Noomi Rapace, and the Finnish-Iranian refugee tale “Any Day Now,’ were some of the highlights at this year’s Nordic Film Market.
They were presented, along with 13 other films in post-production, as part of the Work-in-Progress section. Half of the lineup was made up of first features, notably “Lamb” from Iceland’s Valdimar Johannsson, “Any Day Now” by Finnish-Iranian helmer Hamy Ramezan and “Shorta,” by Denmark’s Fredrik Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm.
This 21st edition of the Nordic Film Market, which also boasts the popular Drama TV Vision conference, saw record participation with 450 attendees from 25 countries. These included more than 37 sales agents from the Nordics, France, Poland, Germany, Israel and the U.K., among others, as well as 67 festival programmers and 47 buyers. Cia Edström, the head of the Nordic Film Market, said more and more participants came for both the film presentations and the Drama TV Vision conference, reflecting the merging of the movie and TV industries.
Edström said more than ever this year, the Discovery section which showcases emerging talent with interesting projects was highly popular among participants. “Producers, broadcasters, sales agents and streaming services are all on the lookout for talent, stories, directors and writers,” said Edström. “The competition to deliver the best premium content is so high right now that everyone is eager to get on board as early as possible on the right projects,” added Edström.
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“Shorta” unfolds in the aftermath of the killing of a young man while in custody and follows two police officers who come face to face with a violent riot in a ghetto. The film deals with racism and police brutality in Denmark and has been compared by some attendees to “Les Miserables.” Produced by Toolbox Film (“The Hunt”), the movie was previously pitched at Les Arcs’s work-in-progress section and also drew offers from sales agents there, but a deal has yet to be announced.
“Lamb,” which New Europe Film Sales is selling, marks Rapace’s return to Scandinavian moviemaking and tells the story of Icelandic couple, María (Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason), who live with their herd of sheep on a beautiful but remote farm. When they discover a mysterious newborn on their farmland, they decide to keep it and raise it as their own. This unexpected prospect of a new family brings them much joy, before ultimately destroying them.
“Any Day Now” is a personal story telling the director’s own experience as a refugee who fled the Iran-Iraq conflict with his family and landed in Finland in 1990. The film previously won the Best Project Award at the industry showcase Finnish Film Affair in Helsinki. New Europe is handling international sales.
Another timely film which stood out was Gorki Glaser-Müller’s documentary “Children of the Enemy” about a man trying to save his grand-children who are trapped in an Syrian refugee camp following the death of his ISIS converted parents — Amanda Gonzales who had moved to Syria with her husband to join the terrorist group and became a high profile warrior recruiting for ISIS. The Swedish documentary is produced by Cinenic and One Night Picture.
Other films in post-production that triggered interest were “The Innocent” by Eskil Vogt (“Blind”), Manus von Horn’s “Sweat,” and Yngvild Sve Flikke’s “Ninjababy,” a quirky comedy drama mixing animation and live action about a 23-year-old woman who finds out she’s pregnant. Motlys produced “Ninjababy” while TrustNordisk is handling international sales.
The Nordic Film Market ran Jan. 30- Feb. 2, alongside the Goteborg Film Festival whose main prize was awarded to Dag Johan Haugerud’s Norwegian drama “Beware of Children.”