Icelandic smash hit drama series “Blackport” won on Wednesday the 2022 Nordisk Film & TV Prize, Scandinavia’s top plaudit for drama series writing.
The award was announced on site at the end of an intense first day of conference panels at the Göteborg Festival’s TV Drama Vision, with two of the series’ three writers, Gísli Örn Garðarsson and Mikael Torfason on stage to collect the Nordic TV Drama Screenplay Award, carrying a €20,000 ($22,600) cash prize. They were accompanied by producer Nina Dögg Filippusdóttir. The prize also went to fellow screenwriter Björn Hlynur Haraldsson.
Clinching the NFTF Prize, “Blackport” has scored a remarkable triple, winning the Series Mania Award at the Berlinale Series Market’s 2018 Co-Pro Series competition after an inspired on-stage pitch by Garðarsson and going on to take the top prize at Series Mania last September.
“Blackport” fought off stiff competition from Oscar-nominated Danish director Lone Sherfig’s “The Shift,” Canneseries’ Norwegian 2021 ensemble cast winner “Countrymen,” penned by Izer Aliu and Anne Bjørnstad, and Auli Mantila’s original Finnish food fraud thriller “Transport” and Tove Eriksen Hillblom’s “Suburbia,” a resonant put-down of Swedish middle-class consumerist hell.
Directed by Garðarsson, Haraldsson and María Reyndal and sold by France’s About Premium Content, “Blackport” weighs in as a family saga sluiced by period tragic farce taking a deep-dive into Iceland over 1983-91.
It kicks off in 1983 as fishing quotas are introduced into Iceland. Harpa, a village council secretary, builds a local fishing empire in a stunning western fjord but at an ever larger human
cost as the decade plays out. Effectively privatising Iceland’s biggest industry, the quotas “changed the history of Iceland forever,” Garðarsson told Variety.
Shot on location and based on true facts – many events are just too strange not to be true – “Blackport” oozes two of the calling cards of contemporary drama series: a closeness to local audiences – pinpointed by NRK’s outgoing head of drama Ivar Kohn at TV Drama Vision as one way pubcasters can push back at the dominance of streamers – and, for international audiences, a sense of authentic local detail and a lid-lifting on a little known period in European history.
“We believe most viewers around the globe want to take a peek into a microcosmic world that they don’t know beforehand,” said Haraldsson. “We are intrigued by a terrifying accident in a nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union in 1986 as much as we are eager to follow a high school chemistry teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico become a crystal meth drug lord.”
“Blackport” is produced by Iceland’s Vesturport and backed by its state-owned network RÚV and Arte France.
A Vesturport founder and actor-writer-stage director winning the European Theatre Award, Berlin Shooting Star Garðarsson took a lead role in Netflix’s “Ragnarok.” Haraldsson’s 2015 writer-director feature debut “Homecoming” is being re-made in the U.K. Also an actor, producer and co-founder of Vesturport, he won fame for performances in “Fortitude” and “Trapped” and starred in Iceland’s Oscar shortlisted “Lamb.”
Novelist and playwright Torfason wrote “Valhalla Murders” for Netflix.