We spent the weekend delving into Nordic Noir fandom and obsession with a great selection of talks, screenings, and food!
Words: Ceri Norman
Nordicana is the must attend event of the year for fans of Nordic Noir; it’s a veritable smörgåsbord of events, where fans can meet the stars of their favourite shows, mix and mingle with other fans, get sneak peeks of what’s yet to arrive on British screens and sample many other aspects of what Scandinavia has to offer.
By opening time, the queue to get into Nordicana was practically around the block, a testament to the popularity of Nordic Noir in the UK and to the popularity of Nordicana itself. Soon enough, we were quickly admitted into the venue and #Nordicana2015 was underway. Architecturally the Troxy exudes all the flair and elegance of the Art Deco era and I was very aware as I walked in that I was somehow leaving modern London behind me. With the Scandinavian themed stalls, sounds and sights that greeted us in the main hall, walking into Nordicana was like walking into Nordic Noir itself, or at least into a little bit of Scandinavia in the heart of the UK.
After a short introduction by Barry Forshaw, attendees were spoilt for choice as to which events to attend; options included screenings, talks, Q&As, panels, a live performance and signings. The DVD signings proved very popular as they were a fantastic opportunity to meet and greet the stars of our favourite shows, and the ticket prices for the various signings included a free copy of the relevant DVD.
The Q&As were a great opportunity for fans to discover more about our favourite shows, to find out what the actors are really like in real life (which is nothing like the characters they portray – a true testament to their acting skills), to hear what went into the making of the programmes and even to ask questions. The cast of 1864 discussed the Danish controversy over the show and revealed how the closeness between three of the stars had its origins in real life. The charming Sofia Helin, in her Q&A, shared a great deal about what went into creating the iconic look and character of Saga Noren, what her favourite scene was to film and how that infamous Porsche is actually pretty difficult to drive. The camaraderie and closeness of the conversation between Sofie Gråbøl and Emma Kennedy drew in the audience in a very personal and winning way. They discussed those jumpers, the ending of series three and shared several wonderful anecdotes, from how Sofie refined her detective skills at a young age (her first job was checking whether or not hotel minibars had been used), to how filming one of the most tragic scenes in The Killing was filled with hilarity due to some unfortunate and unintended sound effects.
The screenings had all the majesty and magic of the cinema, which had a particularly powerful effect for the showing of episode seven of 1864 with all its explosions and intense emotions writ large on the big screen. We were treated to premieres of programmes yet to be shown on British screens, including the first episode of series two of The Legacy and the brand new Jordskott which blends the very best of Nordic Noir – the strong female lead, the beautiful cinematography and the incredible suspense with the more mysterious and otherworldly. Nordicana also took us beyond the Nordic region with premieres of the new French crime drama, Witnesses, and the Norwegian Military History series, The Saboteurs, both of which look to be absolutely unmissable.
The main stage area benefitted from a theatrical style seating system, where all ticket holders had an allocated seat, so we could come and go as we pleased. Yet, despite the grandiosity of such an arrangement, the main stage area lost none of the sense of intimacy and hygge that Nordicana is famous for. The White Room, a cosy, ethereal looking space was used to host the theatrical performance of The Contract Killer and a variety of panel talks which allowed the audience to get up close and personal. It was in the White Room Camilla Hammerich provided us with an insight into ‘The Borgen Experience’ and ‘The Origins of Nordic Noir’ gave us a brief chronology of the well known names of Scandinavian Crime Fiction from Sjöwall and Wahlöö to Jo Nesbø. Other, less well known (at least over in the UK) names were also mentioned, providing book lovers with new works to check out. For fans of writings – crime and otherwise – with a Scandinavian styling, Jon Stenhugg, Quentin Bates, Emma Kennedy and others were at Nordicana signing their books and chatting to fans.
The Nordic Noir fandom is very inclusive one and everyone is very friendly, between events there was a chance to meet up with old friends and make new ones over the delectable food and drinks that were available. The talk on Scandinavian cooking, with a panel that included Signe Johansen, and the various catering stalls tempted many of us to sample the tastes, smells and curiosities of Scandinavian food; there were open salmon sandwiches, cinnamon buns, and oddly named Plopp bars aplenty. South Kensington Books provided a pop-up Nordic Noir bookshop and the Nordic Noir Store offered a wide range of must have DVDs as well as a range of marvellous merchandise to celebrate and commemorate the day. My personal favourite, which I could not resist buying, was a mug decorated with three of the jumpers from The Killing.
Nordicana allows fans to immerse themselves in Nordic Noir, to celebrate the books and the shows they love, to commiserate over the series that have finished, and to discover new ones. If you love Nordic Noir or Scandinavian Crime fiction, I have only one word of advice for you about Nordicana: “go”. #Nordicana2015 was an engaging, enthralling and entertaining event filled with great shows, lovely people and unforgettable moments – most notably when Søren Malling decided to Q&Abomb the audience with Sofie Gråbøl!
2015 Ceri Norman (ARR)
All images obtained via the Nordicana Twitter and hashtag
We will feature interviews with the main stars of Nordicana 2015 in our upcoming September magazine.