Record number of Nordic films, docs and TV series selected at Sundance

10 DECEMBER 2021

Calendar Girls Katherine / PHOTO: Love Martinsen

Eight Nordic titles will be showcased including the competition doc entries Calendar Girls, A House Made of Splinters, and feature film Girl Picture.

The Sundance Film Festival-first major international film festival of the year held this year both onsite at Park City, US and online (January 20-30, 2022), has traditionally been a prime showcase for Nordic films.

This year’s Nordic line-up takes in name directors that made their mark with their debut features at Sundance.

Swedish born Gustav Möller whose Danish feature debut The Guilty won the Audience award in 2018, is back this year with his first TV series The Dark Heart picked for the Indie Episodic Programme, while Norway’s Joachim Trier will be showcasing at the Spotlight section The Worst Person in the World, five years after Reprise had its US premiere are the festival.

Another major comeback is the Danish doc production outfit Final Cut for Real, last year’s double winner with Flee (Grand Jury Prize) and President (Best Director), selected this year in the World Cinema Documentary section with Simon Lereng Wilmont’s A House Made of Splinters.

Meanwhile Finland makes a remarkable splash at Sundance with a record three films by female directors, to be showcased at various sections, reflecting the country’s vibrant film creativity: Alli Haapasalo’s Girl Picture in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, Tania Anderson’s The Mission in the World Cinema Documentary section and the horror pic Hatching, in the Midnight section.

The films Calendar Girls, A House Made of Splinters, Hatching and The Worst Person in the World are all backed by Nordisk Film & TV Fond. Hatching (preciously known as Birds of a Feather) received development support from the Fund’s former Nordic Genre Boost scheme.

Hereunder is the full line up of Nordic titles at Sundance 2022.
(WP denotes world premiere)

World Cinema Dramatic Competition

  • Girl Picture (Finland-WP)
    Directed by Alli Haapasalo (Force of Habit, Shadow Lines), based on a script by Ilona Ahti and Daniela Hakulinen.
    The cast includes Aamu Milonoff, Eleonoora Kauhanen and Linnea Leino.
    Leila Lyytikäinen and Elina Pohjola are producing for Citizen Jane Productions.
    The film will be released domestically by Nordisk Film Distribution in 2022.
    Story: Emma and Rönkkö are girls at the cusp of womanhood, trying to draw their own contours. In three consecutive Fridays two of them experience the earth moving effects of falling in love, while the third goes on a quest to find something she’s never experienced before: pleasure.

World Cinema Documentary Competition

  • Calendars Girls (Sweden-WP)
    Directed and produced by Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen for Pink Dolphin.
    The film co-produced by SVT, received support from the Swedish Film Institute, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, co-financing from RÚV in Iceland and VGTV in Norway.
    Folkets Bio will handle the theatrical release in Sweden.
    Story: Coming-of-age story about Florida’s most dedicated dance team for women over 60 – the Calendar Girls. A dance documentary that shakes up the outdated image of “the old lady” and shows the deep human need for creativity and friendship.
  • A House Made of Splinters (Denmark -WP)
    Directed by Simon Lereng Wilmont (The Distant Barking of Dogs).
    The film is produced by Monica Hellström of Final Cut for Real, in co-production with Story Sweden, Donkey Hotel in Finland, Moon Man in Ukraine, with co-financing from DR, SVT, YLE, VRT, VPRO, TV3, RÚV, ARTE, MDR, support from the Danish Film Institute and Nordisk Film & TV Fond among others. Cinephil handles world sales.

    After his 2017 IDFA winning film The Distant Barking of Dogs (Best Debut Film), Simon Lereng Wilmont continues to focus on the fate of children growing up in war-torn Eastern Ukraine.

    Story: While war is raging in Eastern Ukraine, taking a heavy toll on families near the frontline, an orphanage run by social workers is a temporary haven and safe space for kids who can stay there for nine months.
  • The Mission (Finland-WP)
    Directed by Tania Anderson.
    Produced by Isabella Karhu and Juho-Pekka Tanskanen for Danish Bear Productions, in coproduction with Germany’s Dirk Manthey Film, with backing from the Finnish Film Foundation, Yle, SWR/ARTE, NRK, SVT, RTS. Autlook Film Sales handles sales.
    Story: After receiving a “call to serve” from God, four American teenagers are compelled to leave the safety of their remote religion-filled bubbles, and are sent to the other side of the world in attempt to convert some of Europe’s most non-religious, private and sceptical people, the Finns, to their faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS).

Record number of Nordic films, docs and TV series selected at Sundance

A House Made of Splinters / PHOTO: Simon Lereng Wilmont

Midnight section

  • Hatching (Finland-WP)
    Directed by Hanna Bergholm based on a script by Ilja Rautsi.
    The cast includes Jani Volanen, Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä and Saija Lentonen.
    Mika Ritalahti and Nico Ritalahtit are producing for Silva Mysterium, in co-production with Sweden’s Hobab, Norway’s Evil Doghouse Productions, with backing from the Finnish Film Foundation, the Swedish Film Institute and Yle.
    Nordisk Film will release it domestically in February 2022.
    Wild Bunch handles world sales.
    Story: While desperately trying to please her demanding mother, a young gymnast discovers a strange egg. She tucks it away and keeps it warm, but when it hatches, what emerges shocks everyone.
  • Speak no Evil (Denmark-WP)
    Written and directed by Christian Tafdrup (A Horrible Woman), co-written by Mads Tafdrup.
    The cast includes Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja van Huêt and Karina Smulders.
    Jacob Jarek is producing for Profile Pictures, in co-production with Oak Motion Pictures in the Netherlands, support from The Danish Film Institute, FilmFyn, The Netherlands Film Production Incentive, with co-financing from DR and Nordisk Film Distribution. TrustNordisk handles world sales. The film will open in March in Denmark.
    Story: A Danish family visits a Dutch family they met on a holiday. What was supposed to be an idyllic weekend slowly starts unravelling, as the Danes try to stay polite in the face of unpleasantness.

Spotlight Section

  • The Worst Person in the World (Norway)
    Directed by Joachim Trier from a script co-written with Eskil Vogt.
    Renate Reinsve won Best Actress at the last Cannes Film Festival for her title role as Julie, and is tipped for an Oscar nomination. Thomas Robsahm is producing for Oslo Pictures. MK2 Films handles sales. Released last October by SF Norge, the film has sold more than 205,000 tickets at home.
    Story: Four years in the life of Julie, a young woman who navigates the troubled waters of her love life and struggles to find her career path, leading her to take a realistic look at who she really is.

Record number of Nordic films, docs and TV series selected at Sundance

The Worst Person in the World, Verdens Verste Menneske, Renate Reinsve / PHOTO: Oslo Pictures

Indie Episodic Programme
Dedicated showcase for emerging creators of independently produced content for episodic platforms.

  • The Dark Heart (Sweden-WP)
    Five-part TV series directed by Gustav Möller (The Guilty) from a screenplay by Oskar Söderlund, itself based on a book by Joakim Palmkvist. The cast includes Gustav Lindh, Clara Christiansson Drake and Aliette Opheim. Anna Carlsten and Caroline Landerberg are producing for FLX and commissioning platform discovery+, in co-production with Film i Skåne. REinvent International Sales handles global sales.
    Story: Inspired by true events, the series is based on journalist Joakim Palmkvist's non-fiction book ‘The Dark Heart: A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator’. Set in a small rural community, the story of love, greed and power revolves around a murder case which was solved by a Missing People volunteer.

Record number of Nordic films, docs and TV series selected at Sundance

The Dark Heart, Aliette Opheim / PHOTO: Jasper Spanning

A total of 82 feature-length films from 28 countries have been selected for Sundance out of 14,849 submissions, including 3,762 feature-length films, of which 2,121 are international productions.

The major US festival is the flagship film showcase of the non-profit Sundance Institute, founded in 1981 by Robert Redford.​