Titles backed or produced by HBO Europe (“Welcome to Utmark”), NBCU (“Sisterhood”), Fremantle (“Cargo”) and ITV Studios (“Thin Blue Line”) have been nominated for the 5th Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize, the most prestigious Nordic award for drama series screenwriting.
In a powerful smackdown, a fifth series, “Cry Wolf,” is produced by DR Drama, the Danish producer of Nordic Noir icons “The Killing” and “The Bridge” as well as “Borgen.”
Adding another edge to competition, the five contenders are produced by companies based in the five main Nordic countries and backed by three of its biggest public broadcasters, Sweden’s SVT, Denmark’s DR and Finland’s YLE, as well as pan-Nordic pay TV giant Viaplay, part of the Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT).
In other words, the world’s TV new order – global platforms such as HBO, Comcast’s NBCU and “super indies” such as Fremantle, ITV and Viaply parent NENT – want in to Nordic series. Yet its established titans – Scandinavoa’s public broadcasters – hardly want out.
The winner of the award, which goes to the main writer, will be announced on Feb. 3 at Sweden’s Göteborg Film Festival during its TV Drama Vision, its ever more important drama series forum.
“In this time of social distancing, engaging and diverse stories that bring us together are more important than ever,” said Cia Edström, head of TV Drama Vision. “The variety of form and expression shows the present high Nordic quality in multiple genres, in old, new and mixed ones,” added Liselott Forsman, Nordisk Film & TV Fond CEO.
Finland. Nominated writer: Matti Kinnunen.
Sold by Fremantle, and marking Fremantle Finland’s incursion into high-end drama, the latest by film (“Time Out,” “Miss Blue Jeans”) and TV (“Tarinanmetsästäjät”) writer-director Kinnunen begins with Kiki, an Eritrean woman, forced to flee her home, losing her husband and daughter Liah swimming out to a boat off Libya, and initiating a desperate search for Liah in Helsinki with feckless petty criminal Riku (Johannes Holopainen). One of the buzziest of NF6TV contenders this year, an edge-of-the-seat drama-thriller set apart by a commanding performance from lead Evelyn Rasmussen Osazuwa as a human trafficking victim who fights back.
Denmark. Nominated writer: Maja Jul Larsen
Created by “Borgen” writer Larsen, a discomforting social drama that captures the teen psychology and complexities of social services welfare. Both drive a seemingly innocent man to be accused of aggravated assault of his own step-daughter, Holly, 14, who is horrified by her loss of the safe world of childhood and the sexuality her stepdad symbolizes. Selected for Series Mania’s 2020 main competition, co-directed by Pernille Fischer Christensen and sold, among major territories, to France (Salto), Spain (Movistar Plus), Australia (SBS) and Germany (Telepool).
Iceland. Nominated writer: Jóhann Ævar Grímsson
The first series to emerge from a multi-year development and distribution deal inked by Icelandic powerhouse producer Sagafilm (“Stella Blómkvist,” “Cold Courage”) and U.K.-based Sky Studios in 2019, with NBCUniversal Global Distribution handling sales. From creator/scribe Jóhann Ævar Grímsson, whose writing credits include “Stella Blomkvist” and “Thin Ice.” Initial Nordic Noir – the skeletal remains of a young girl, Hanna, who disappeared 20 years ago, are found in a gravel mine in Iceland – the series stands Nordic Noir on its head, identifying the guilty party from the get-go, who are women and ordinary people. A down-beat, dowdy take on the weight of the past, decades down the line, and different “notions of guilt, shame,” Grímsson told Variety.
“Thin Blue Line”
Nominated writer: Cilla Jackert
Sold by ITV Studios, which presented it in its sales lineup at its 3rd Drama Festival in February 2020, a 10-part crime procedural is produced by Anagram Sweden for Swedish public broadcaster SVT, another Nordic Noir prime mover partnering Denmark’s DR on “The Bridge.” Framing six cops working a beat in Sweden’s multicultural Malmö, this is a woman’s show, steered by head writer Jackert, who wrote movie “Shed No Tears” from “Midnight Sun” directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, and lead directed by “My Skinny Sister’s” Sanna Lenken. That maybe tells. Cases come and go. Character arcs, sentiments, center the narrative.
“Welcome to Utmark”
Nominated writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson
HBO Europe’s first time in competition, produced by Oslo’s Paradox Film 8 AS but tapping talent across the region including Danish lead writer Kim Fupz Aakeson, nominated for 13 Danish Film Awards in a two-decade career, and Icelandic director Dagur Kári, who burst onto the film scene with his 2003 debut “Noi the Albino,” a Göteborg Festival best Nordic Film winner. Set in a rogues gallery hamlet of tarnished oddballs – a sheriff with a fast-bowel syndrome, alcoholic shepherd, nature-loving bootlegger, God-hating pastor, and grieving pimp – this is the most out-there of the five contenders, a genre-mashing Sami Western with sweeping landscapes and elemental passions but little hint of Norway’s North being won, and the suggestion that the future, if there is one, will be women.