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Viaplay’s The Fortress, SVT’s Blackwater win big at Series Mania

27 MARCH 2023

THE FORTRESS / PHOTO: Lukas Salna, Maipo Film, Viaplay Group

The Norwegian series Fortress produced by Maipo Film won Best Screenplay and the Swedish show Blackwater produced by Apple Tree Productions Best Series Int’l Panorama.

The Fortress (Festning Norge) was the only Norwegian show selected for Series Mania competition, out of nearly 400 submissions from 63 countries.

The 7x45’ series was jointly written and created by Linn-Jeanethe Kyed (Rod Knock, Born2Drive) and John Kåre Råke (The Quake) after the two became aware of a trend towards political isolationism in Western Europe, particularly acute after the 2015 refugee crisis.

The solid creative team takes in concept directors Cecilie Mosli (Mammon, Grey's Anatomy) and Mikkel Brænne Sandemose (State of Happiness) and main actors Tobias Santelmann, Selome Emnetu and Russell Tovey.

Set in the year 2037, the story features an enormous wall that surrounds Norway, where its people enjoy privileged and sheltered lives in a self-sufficient Nordic paradise. But when a deadly pandemic breaks out, the inhabitants soon realise that the wall intended to protect them, is instead holding them prisoner.

John-Kåre Raake who was on hand at the Series Mania awards ceremony last Friday said about his win: “Our ambition, and the fundamental theme of The Fortress, is that to solve the enormous challenges the world is faced with, everyone needs everyone. By telling this story, we want to show that withdrawing a nation from the world community and putting yourself first is not the best solution. So we are absolutely thrilled that an international jury understands and recognises this by awarding us the prize for best screenplay,” he said.

The series was produced by Maipo Film’s Ales Ree and Synnøve Hørsdal for Maipo Film, in co-production with Lithuania’s Violeta Drazdauskė and Kęstutis Drazdauskas of ArtBox, with Viaplay’s Kari Moen Kristiansen and Tanya Nanette Badendyck serving as executive producers. The show will premiere later this year on the streaming service. TrustNordisk handles sales in certain territories.

Meanwhile Blackwater (Händelser vid vatten) was voted Best Series among 12 premium shows selected for the International Panorama.

The crime drama which competed recently for the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize-Best Screenplay of a Nordic series was co-written by Karin Arrhenius and Maren Louise Käehne from Kerstin Ekman’s best-selling novel, with Mikael Marcimain serving as concept director. Rolf Lassgård, Alba August, Asta August and Pernilla August are headlining the multi-layered suspense drama about a small community in Northern Sweden, haunted for several generations by a double murder.


Viaplay’s The Fortress, SVT’s Blackwater win big at Series Mania


Commenting on the award Marcimain said: “Winning at Series Mania is of course a major honour, especially as the jury chose to lift a series that does not follow the well-trodden paths of the [Nordic noir] genre. I am delighted on behalf of the cast and crew. We have all fought hard to do Kerstin Ekman's great novel justice in the form of a TV series. Vive la France!”

Apple Tree Productions’ co-founder Pic Bernth, producer of series with Helene Lindholm also said: “Apple Tree Productions is very, very proud that the series has received this fine award. We would like to thank SVT Drama and the entire team in front of and behind the camera for entrusting us with this task [of producing this show]. It’s been a fantastic experience, both to work on Kerstin Ekman's fantastic story and with this unique Nordic landscape. Special thanks as well to director Mikael Marcimain for creating a strong and compelling visual story!”

The series backed by Nordisk Film & TV Fond has been a critical and audience success on the Swedish public broadcaster SVT since its launch in January. ITV Studios handles sales.

The show is also available on the Nordic pubcasters DR, Yle, NRK and RÚV and Germany’s ARD.

Series Mania’s Grand Prize from the International competition went to Iran’s The Actor.

While announcing the awards on Friday, Laurence Herszberg, founder and general director of Series Mania, said a record 85,000 participants attended the festival and 3,800 participants from 64 countries were at the Forum, figures that have “far exceeded” her and her team’s expectations.

For the full list of awards, check: