ITV Studios, Fremantle and Federation Studios, partnering with Apple Tree Productions, Elisa Viihde and TV 2 Norge, will go head to head with Nordic powerhouses Glassriver and DR at next year’s Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize which promises to underscore the large breadth of current Scandinavia scripted series. 

Backed by the Göteborg Film Festival and Nordisk Film & TV Fond, the 7th edition of the Prize, awarded to series’ main writers,  also looks set to shine a spotlight on high-profile and on-the-rise writing talent such as Icelandic thesp Anita Briem, who played Jean Seymour in “The Tudors,” and Finnish creator-director Matti Kinnunen, whose “Cargo” was reckoned one of the strongest contenders at the 2021 Prize.

Carrying a €20,000 ($21,000) cash endowment, the Prize will be presented on Feb. 1 to the winning series’ main writer at TV Drama Vision, the Göteborg Film Festival’s conference event and series market.

“Today there is a richness of genres and styles in our region, which is clearly reflected in this year’s selection. I look forward to hearing these gifted writers share their thoughts on stage in Göteborg and, of course, to the jury’s final reflections, who, once again, will have a tough job,” said Liselott Forsman, CEO at Nordisk Film & TV Fond.

“This year’s selection of series truly shows the multifaceted quality of Nordic drama and the rich diversity of creative talent from the region,” added Cia Edström, head of TV Drama Vision.

If the shows share a common denominator, it is their vision of issues determining or now wearing away at the fabric of modern society. Finland’s banking crisis transformed the psyche of the entire nation, says Kinnunen. “Kids in Crime” plumbs the quick fix pleasure mentality of much of today’ youth, deprived of longer term prospects. “Carmen Curlers” charts how farm worker wives entered the workforce from the 1960s, gaining economic independence for the first time in history, Metto Heeno, its lead writer, has said.

A quick drill down on the five titles: 

“As Long as We Live,” (“Svo lengi sem við lifum,” Iceland)

Nominated writer: Aníta Briem. Commissioner: Channel 2 Iceland. Produced by: Glassriver. Producer: Arnbjörg Hafliðadónr. Director: Katrín Björgvinsdónr. Sales: Eccho Rights. Premiere: Q3, 2023

Produced by Iceland’s Glassriver, whose “Black Sands” proved a standout at 2022’s Berlinale Series, Briem’s debut as a writer creator. Inspired by her personal experience, it turns on Beta, once a musician with a future, now a model mum in a relationship going nowhere – until an au pair suggests she and her husband start “flirting assignments.” “An ode to love, to marriage, in whatever form you choose to have it,” says Briem. But also “an ode to curiosity, to the spark in us. An ode to the lust for life.”

As Long as We Live Courtesy of Goteborg Film Festival

“Blackwater,” (“Händelser Vid Vatten,” Sweden)
Nominated writers: Maren Louise Käehne, Karin Arrhenius. Commissioner: SVT. Produced by: Apple Tree Productions.
Producer: Piv Bernth. Director: Mikael Marcimain. Sales agent: ITV Studios. Premiere: Jan. 13 (SVT Play), Jan. 15 (SVT 1).

A flagship title from Danish production co Apple Tree Productions, co-founded in 2017 by ex DR exec Piv Bernth, producer of “The Killing,” exec producer on “The Bridge” and DR commissioner for “Borgen.” From Apple Tree’s Swedish arm, made for public broadcast group SVT, written by Käehne (“Queen of Hearts”) and Arrhenius (“Rebecka Martinsson”), and the closest the selection gets this year to Nordic Noir.  The murder of two tourists in a tent one Midsummer’s night in 1973, ensnares four lives, resurfacing in 1993. Based on Kerstin Ekman’s acclaimed, multi-prized atmospheric crime novel, published in 25 counties.

Blackwater Courtesy of Goteborg Film Festival

“Carmen Curlers,” (Denmark)
Nominated writer: Mette Heeno. Commissioner: DR. Produced by: DR Drama. Producer: Stinna Lassen. Directors: Natasha Arthy, Christian Tafdrup, Josefine Kirkeskov, Lisa Jespersen. Sales agent: DR Sales. Premiere: Sept. 30, 2022, DRTV

From Danish public broadcaster DR, produced by Stinna Lassen (“When the Dust Settles”) and written by Mette Heeno (“Snow Angels,” “Splitting Up Together”), the feel-good period drama is set over 1963-69 and the inspired by the real-life tale of the invention of electric hair curlers by driven Danish entrepreneur Arne Bybjerg but all the more by women’s lib as women began to pour into the workforce and earn their own money. A smash hit in Denmark this fall with audiences and critics, and a hot sales item for DR at Mipcom, closing Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Australia in first-phase sales.

“The Invincibles,” (“Rosvopankki,” Finland)  

Nominated writer: Matti Kinnunen. Co-writer: Mikko Reitala. Commissioner: Elisa Viihde. Produced by: Moskito Television. Producer: Mari Kinnunen. Director: Mari Kinnunen. Sales agent: Fremantle. Premiere: March 2023

Showcased at April’s MipDrama, a political thriller created and directed by “Cargo’s” Kinnunen and produced by Moskito Television for top Finnish SVOD player Elisa Viihde, a fiction drama set against Finland’s banking crisis from the late ’80s which plunged Finland into long recession. Pekka Strang (Canneseries winner “Mister8”) plays real-life financier Christopher Wegelius, head of central savings bank SKOP, pursued by a bank inspector Amanda Pilke (“Purge”), hell-bent on proving his wrongdoing until she begins to buy into his vision. Mikko Reitala (“Laugh or Die”) co-writes. 

The Invincibles Credit: Heikki Leis

“Kids in Crime,” (Norway)

Nominated writer: Kenneth Karlstad. Co-writer: Audun Fagervold Hansen. Commissioner: TV2 Norge. Produced by: Einar Film Drama. Producers: Brede Hovland, Teodor Sven Bø,

Pål Kruke Kristansen. Director: Kenneth Karlstad.Sales: Federation Studios. Premiere: Nov. 25, 2022.

Billed as an unusual coming of age series set in 2001 as three teens get in over their heads with the local drug lord and decide to party party their way to oblivion. “But all parties come to an end, and this particular end could be bloody,” the plot description anticipates. Written and directed by Kenneth Karlstad, whose short, “The Hunger,” won the Norwegian Film Critics’ Award at the 2017 Norwegian Short Film Festival. 

Kids in Crime Courtesy of Goteborg Film Festival