Swedish director Ronnie Sandahl’s feature debut, Underdog [+] – a Swedish-Norwegian co-production filmed in Oslo with Norwegian actor Henrik Rafaelsen in one of the leads – has won the top prize, the Gold Hugo, in the New Directors competition at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival, which will run until 23 October.
“A modern take on class conflict that keeps its focus on its believable characters instead of highlighting the melodrama inherent in its narrative – a film that both addresses specific cultural issues and yet feels simultaneously universal through its honesty,” said the jury of Sandahl’s first movie, which follows a Swede who has fled Swedish mass unemployment for a new life in Oslo. Like many young Swedish immigrants, she ends up being an outcast and survives on very little money, irregular work and partying hard, until she lands a job as a housekeeper in an upper-middle-class Norwegian house – a life very distant from her own.
Earlier this month (5 October), the film – also starring Bianca Kronlöf, Mona Kristiansenand Naomi Emeilie Christensen Beck – was awarded the Critics’ Award for Best Film Debut at the tenth Zurich Film Festival, with a Special Mention for Kronlöf and Kristiansen.Underdog was produced by Annika Hellström and Martin Persson for Sweden’s Anagram Film & TV and Cinenic Film, and by Gudny Hummelvoll for Norway’s Hummelfilm.
Incorporating a focus on Scandinavia in the World Cinema Spotlight Program, with 20 features and eight shorts, Chicago also awarded a Gold Hugo for Best Short Film to Norwegian director Marianne O Ulrichsen’s Amazon, and a Silver Hugo to John Christian Rosenlund for his cinematography for Norwegian director Bent Hamer’s 1001 Grams [+].
The Silver Q Hugo Film Award in the OUT-Look Program went to Swedish director Ester Martin Bergsmark’s Something Must Break [+]; a Gold Plaque was issued for Best Costume Design to Pia Myrdal and Anne-Dorthe Eskildsen, for Danish director Niels Arden Oplev’s Speed Walking, and lastly, Icelandic director Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson was awarded the Gold Plaque for Best Narrative/Live Action Short for hisArtun.