Imagine turning a corner and bumping straight into Sarah Lund and Saga Norén, deep in conversation, brows furrowed as if they were putting their heads together on a hybrid case derived from the darkest elements of The Killing and The Bridge.
It sounds like the product of a Nordic Noir fan’s fevered imagination, but this is the kind of thing that happens at Nordicana, London’s annual celebration of Scandinavian TV drama with a strong emphasis on the crime genre.
It isn’t Sarah and Saga, of course, but the two actors who created two of the most significant roles in recent TV drama of any kind. And it is testament to the scale and importance of the event that it offers busy stars such as Sofie Gråbøl and Sofia Helin the chance to catch up with personal news during work schedules that are keeping them very busy.
Nordicana 2015 took over the Troxy, an Art Deco cinema turned conference and concert venue, for the weekend of 6-7 June, was the third running of the event – and several steps up from its previous incarnations in terms of organisation, and the experience for the fans who seemed to have descended on the East End of London from the four corners of the world.
This year’s festival was appropriately sub-headed ‘Nordic Noir & Beyond’, reflecting a wide-ranging agenda which included literary discussions, generous helpings of The Legacy and 1864, as well as producer Camilla Hammerich’s retrospective discussion about the impact of Borgen, and the UK premier of Jordskott, the mystery thriller from Sweden which was set to add another star to the firmament in the form of Moa Gammel.
We’re so honoured to be here and it’s fantastic that there is this festival of Scandinavian things!
– Trine Dyrholm
Helin is a Nordicana veteran, having been one of the stars at the 2014 event, but this is Gråbøl’s first time. Even though The Killing put her in the vanguard of the benevolent present-day Scandinavian invasion of TV drama, she seems touched and overwhelmed by the reception that she and her fellow artists are receiving.
Each time the cast of The Legacy, 1864 and Jordskott arrive on stage for their Q&A sessions or walk into the room set aside for signing DVDs and photos, they are greeted with affectionate applause and cheers. The realisation that they are facing such a respectful, knowledgeable audience, and fielding questions that reflect an enthusiasm that is at once popular and occasionally, academically forensic, sends ripples of wide-eyed pleasure across the faces of the first-timers.
Gråbøl, is a natural story-teller with a string of anecdotes from a 30-year career that began – as she wryly recalls in her Q&A with British broadcaster and writer Emma Kennedy – in 1986 with a nude-scene in Oviri, a biopic of Paul Gauguin which starred Donald Sutherland. As expected, however, the main focus of her stories is her time spent playing the socially challenged Sarah Lund (and the jumper which at times assumed the status of a co-star).
Shortly after she has explained the difficulties of filming Søren Malling’s death scene in The Killing, when events reduced them to helpless giggles, Malling himself dashes on to the stage. Newly arrived to take part in the 1864 streams, he has obviously been listening backstage and they share an impromptu reunion in front of a rapturous audience. This, too, is the kind of thing that happens at Nordicana.
“We’re so honoured to be here and it’s fantastic that there is this festival of Scandinavian things,” says Trine Dyrholm, taking a breather while an orderly queue starts to build up for her signature, kept in check by a system of red ropes and gold posts. “But are they going to fight for my autograph? This looks a little formal!”
Later on, Marie Tourell Søderberg and Jens Sætter-Lassen – two thirds of the youthful, innocent triangle ruptured by the events of 1864 – are similarly touched by the appreciation that London is showing for a series that had a more complicated reception in their Danish homeland.
Søderberg says it’s the first time she has felt she is sharing the way the drama was originally conceived with an audience which understands it – a feeling that sums up the spirit of Nordicana itself.