PRODUCTION / FILM

Large array of new Nordic voices create buzz at Nordic Film Market

8 FEBRUARY 2022

Hit Big / PHOTO: Komeetta H

The feature debuts Exodus, The Great Silence, Amina, JP Valkeapää’s Hit Big were some of the hot works in progress at Göteborg’s hybrid film market.

A total of 545 participants - including 275 on-site - had signed up for the 24th Nordic Film Market (February 3-6), eager to discover the next film gems and crowd-pleasers, at a time when Nordic voices are collecting some of the heaviest prizes at international A-festivals.

This year’s programme of 19 projects in development and post-production on top of 14 completed films, gave a good snapshot of what to expect on the big screens in the next months or year to come.

A handful of the most buzzed about projects in works in progress were from emerging directors, still up for grabs for world sales. Those include the Swedish projects Exodus by Lebanese-born Abbe Hassan, the story of an unusual friendship between a 14-year-old Syrian refugee, trying to join her family in Sweden, and a 40-year old smuggler. “The film really questions who saves who”, commented Hassan, producer of the acclaimed film A Hustle’s Diary. Exodus producer Mattias Nohrborg of B-Reel Films said the film will be ready mid-March, with a release in Sweden via TriArt set for September.

Other standout Swedish debuts include Amina by Somalia-born Ahmed Abdullahi led by Art & Bob, Dogborn by Isabella Carbonell, produced by Momento Film, the documentary about Roy Andersson and his estranged brothers The Andersson Brothers by Johanna Bernhardsson, produced by Cinenic Film, and Denmark’s The Great Silence by Katrine Brocks, produced by Monolit Film. Clips from the film gave an idea of the solid performances from Kristine Kujath Thorp (Ninjababy) who plays a nun preparing for her perpetual vows, and Elliott Crosset Hove (Winter Brothers), playing her elder estranged brother Erik.

Meanwhile Dogs Don’t Wear Pants’ Finnish director JP Valkeapää looks like a strong Cannes contender with his darkly humorous crime Hit Big (Komeetta), picked up by Charades, while seasoned directors Bille August and Björn Runge impressed with their high-quality major productions The Kiss (LevelK) and Burn All My Letters (REinvent) respectively.

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Large array of new Nordic voices create buzz at Nordic Film Market

The Kiss, Kysset / PHOTO: Rolf Konow

In the Discovery programme, promising projects in development included Redoubt produced by John Skoog (Ridge) for Sweden’s Plattform Produktion, set to star French actor Denis Lavant, Europa by Norwegian/Kurdish Brwa Vahabpour (Countrymen) produced by Denmark’s True Content Entertainment, and Anything For Her, directorial debut of Faroese Andrias Høgenni, winner of a Semaine de la Critique Canal+ Prize for the short film No Ill Will. His project about a wedding in the Faroe Islands going off the rails, will be in the Ruben Östlund or Lukas Moodysson vein according to Høgenni. Denmark’s Tambo Film is producing.

Commenting on the 2022 NFM line-up, Kim Foss, head of Denmark’s arthouse distribution company Camera Film said: “As always it was a mixed bag-this time also covering animation [Titina from Norway] and veterans like Bille August. I particularly liked watching all the new, young talents up on stage for the first time. But if I were to select just one project, which I particularly look forward to seeing in the finished version, it would be the family portrait The Andersson Brothers. I didn’t even know that Roy Andersson had three brothers, but then again…they are not even on speaking terms!”

His Norwegian counterpart Svend Jensen at Arthaus also enjoyed NFM’s “broad spectrum of different films, from edgy artistic projects to the more commercial films, from exciting first filmmakers and well-established directors and was eyeing at half of dozen projects for distribution. “To me it seems like Nordic cinema is blooming, and with Finland in front!”, he said.

Frédéric Boyer, artistic director for Tribeca, Les Arcs European Film Festival and programmer for the Reykjavik Film Festival said he enjoyed the good presentations, and was particularly interested in a few projects still open for world sales. “I will follow up on 1-2 projects for Tribeca,” he said.

Expanding on his key selection criteria, Boyer said: “Filmmaking skills come first, then the topic. Today, audiences who are watching a lot of TV shows, are much more demanding in terms of what they want to see on the big screen. You need films that create the ‘wow’ effect, that can fill cinemas, create a buzz."

Boyer underlined the great artistic headway of Finnish cinema - notably young female talents, with many new directors breaking free from the shadows of the Scandinavian masters-Ingmar Bergman and Aki Kaurismäki. “Norway is also coming up with impressive works, not only in feature length, but with shorts and docs as well,” he noted.

Regarding the organisation of Nordic Film Market, interviewees who attended in person praised Göteborg’s Head of Industry Cia Edström and her team, for their ability to stage the physical event - next to a virtual version - despite strict, and not always logical Covid-restrictions that affected attendance at screenings, as well as pitching sessions.

“It was nice to be on-site in Göteborg, although some of the Covid restrictions felt a bit strange, such as gathering groups of 8 to walk in and sit together, despite not having been together before,” noted Susan Wendt, TrustNordisk CEO who also regretted not being able to have in-person meetings with Discovery creators, although their pitches were live. “Maybe it was due to the lack of physical space for the meetings, with the social distancing, but it did work, so all in all it was good,” she said.

"From our end we are really happy about the line-up and the feedback from the industry,” said Edström. “It was lovely to have the industry back considering pandemic restrictions, and I am very grateful that our fantastic team pulled off our very first hybrid edition."

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Large array of new Nordic voices create buzz at Nordic Film Market

Stora Teatern / PHOTO: Annika Pham
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