With a number of new initiatives, like Books at Haugesund, Scandinavian Debut and the screenings of Nordic TV series, 2017 saw an increase in the attendance figures of the Norwegian International Film Festival for the third year running. In 2017 the total was 23,000.
1351 participants from more than 30 nations visited Haugesund during the festival. A total of 119 films were shown. In addition there were 20 “Works in Progress”, 24 film projects at the Nordic Co-Production Market, 10 at Scandinavian Debut, and 6 Nordic screenplays were also presented.
During the festival a number of film-professional seminars and workshops were arranged. It started out with “The narrow diversity – the cinema market after digitalisation” that shed light on what has changed from analogue to digital when running a movie theatre. Terje Gaustad and Øyvind Torp from BI Norwegian Business School / Centre for Creative Industries (BI:CCI) presented research and analysis of Norwegian screening and attendance figures. Lars Fuglevik (Programme Director at SF Kino), Øystein Simonsen (Cinema Manager in Tysvær) and Morten Christoffersen (CEO of Nordisk Film Distribusjon) presented case studies to illustrate the reality behind the figures.
With “Bridging the Nordic Market – How to strengthen Nordic content in the digital age”, Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland, in co-operation with Nordisk Film & TV Fond, the Norwegian Film Institute, and the Norwegian International Film Festival, organised a film-political seminar. It is part of the Norwegian presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2017. CEO of Eurimages Roberto Olla presented the European perspective and examined how co-productions are facilitated and the importance of co-productions for financing, distribution and market access. Petri Kemppinen, CEO of Nordisk Film & TV Fond, concentrated on the Nordic perspective and looked at the types of feature films, drama series and documentaries that are travelling across national borders, and how Nordic policies can help spread Nordic films and series globally. Author and media analyst Johanna Koljonen, who is connected to The Nostradamus Project, presented trends within content, technology and distribution models. Case studies were presented here as well. Peter Dinges, CEO of the German film fund Die Filmförderungsanstalt (FFA) and General Secretary of European Film Agency Directors (EFAD), looked at the legal framework for co-financing and how Germany has implemented this in its legislation. Vilde Schanke Sundet, media analyst and postdoctoral researcher at University College Inland, employed her research perspective to examine how the TV series SKAM has become successful in a Nordic context. Silje Riise Næss moderated the panel. There was also a panel discussion, with Lone Korslund from Nordisk Filmdistribusjon, Claus Ladegaard from the Danish Film Institute, Synnøve Hørsdal from Maipo Film, Fredrick Ljungberg from Viaplay, and Jannicke Haugen from Nordisk Film Kino. The seminar was closed by State Secretary Bård Folke Fredriksen.
This year a film-political debate was organised in co-operation with Virke, the producers association, and the Norwegian Federation of Film critics. For a debate moderated by Aslak Borgersrud, the participants from Norwegian political parties were: Hege Haukeland Liadal, spokesperson of cultural policy for Arbeiderpartiet, Trine Skei Grande, leader of Venstre, Sveinung Steinsland from Høyre and State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture Himanshu Gulati from Fremskrittspartiet.
During the event Books at Haugesund the publishing and film industries met each other for a seminar and a pitch of five book projects suitable for film adaptation. In addition, this year saw for the first time a special architecture festival, Norwegian ArchFest. There was also a book event with Kjartan Fløgstad about his book “Trans-Sovjet ekspress”. Scandinavian Debut was another new event, where ten new directorial talents got the opportunity to pitch their own projects before a panel of producers, sales agents, and representatives for film production support initiatives. Out of these ten, “Guds bibliotek” (“Library of God”), represented by director Stian Hafstad and producer Ine Remme, was awarded with Scandinavian Debut Award, which consists of NOK 60,000.
Some highlights from the 45th Norwegian International Film Festival:
Saturday 19 August: there was an impressive start with the presentation of this year’s Amanda Awards. The show was aired on TV 2 from Scandic Maritim Hall. The host of the evening was Pia Tjelta. The actors Bjørn Sundquist and Pia Tjelta were both honoured with stones on Haugesund’s Walk of Fame. Cinemagi opened with The Emoji Movie and a visit from the YouTube stars Prebz and Dennis before the screening.
Sunday 20 August: the festival is officially opened with the Norwegian film Thelma. Director and co-screenwriter Joachim Trier, producer Thomas Robsahm, co-screenwriter Eskil Vogt and the actors Eili Harboe, Kaja Wilkins, Ellen Dorrit Petersen and Henrik Rafaelsen were present in Haugesund. On the island of Utsira, in co-operation with The Mobile Cinema (“Bygdekinoen”), there was a special screening of the spectacular drama The Light Between Oceans. The festival artist Tore Hansen opened his exhibition at Haugesund Art Gallery. At a cultural event in Skåre Church, the film critics Per Haddal and Kristin Aalen conducted a film conversation about “Faith and life in films”.
Monday 21 August: early risers had the opportunity to start the day with yoga on the outdoor stage, something that was also possible each morning the following festival days. For the red carpet of the gala premiere of the TV drama Occupied 2 director Erik Skjoldbjærg, producers Gudny Hummelvoll and Marianne Gray came, as well as the actors Henrik Mestad, Janne Heltberg and Eldar Skar. The films made during the animation workshop for children were screened at Edda. The arts critic Silje Mariann Engja Sigurdsen received the Hestenes Award, Frida Ohrvik of the distribution company Norsk Film Distribusjon received The Faun of the City of Haugesund, an honorary award. Bishop Erling Pettersen received The Blazing Seagulls (“Fykende måker”), a mark of honour given by the City of Haugesund.
Tuesday 22 August: a combined gala premiere and opening of New Nordic Films, the Nordic film market, with the Danish director Jens Dahl’s debut film 3 Things. Both director Dahl and producer Jacob Jarek were present. During the opening the five nominees for the Nordic Council Film Prize were announced. The nominations were presented by the Skam actors Iman Meskini and Tarjei Sandvik Moe. There was also a gala premiere for Tommy Wirkola’s What Happened to Monday, and both director Wirkola and actors Pål Sverre Hagen, Christian Rubeck and Stig Frode Henriksen came for the premiere. At Bedehuset (“The House of Prayer”) in Haugesund there was a 16 mm screening of the dance classic Footloose. It was introduced by Thomas Felberg, well-known for the TV shows Tidsbonanza and Stjernekamp.
Wednesday 23 August: the festival organised the gala premiere of the Norwegian film VampyrVidar, with director Thomas Aske Berg and many actors on the red carpet. There was also a gala premiere of the TV series Norsemen. Producer Anders Tangen, directors Jon Iver Helgaker and Jonas Torgersen attended the premiere with several actors from the series, including Kåre Conradi, Nils Jørgen Kaalstad, Mariann Saastad Ottesen and Silje Torp. The actor Jakob Oftebro also met the audience in connection with the screening of Charlotte Sieling’s The Man from Denmark, which also features the Norwegian actress Ane Dahl Torp.
Thursday 24 August: the film Tom of Finland closed the festival in the presence of lead actor Pekka Strang. Before the screening as many as ten awards were presented. Read about all the prize winners here.
Friday 25 August: audiences got the opportunity to watch the winners of the FIPRESCI award, the Audience Award, the Film Critics Awards and the Ray of Sunshine award.