The Nordic documentaries nominated for the DOX:AWARD 2017

The Danish documentary festival CPH:DOX has revealed the nominees for the festivals main competition, the DOX:AWARD. In total 13 documentaries are nominated and consists of seven world premieres, four international premieres and two European premieres.

Here’s a nice overview of the documentaries (with some techno music over the top!):

Here are the Nordic documentaries nominated:

What Young Men Do

Dir Jon Haukeland, Norway

Noah is 15 years old when he gets arrested for four cases of aggravated robbery. As punishment, the young lout is forced to move away from his mother and childhood friends in Oslo to his father in the somewhat less exciting suburb of Bærum. Bummer! ‘What Young Men Do’ is a youth film about a teenage boy’s first encounter with the system, and about having to fight with integration and identity, when all you want is to have a wild time. But this is where any similarity with classic youth-film-for-well-meaning-adults ends. ‘What Young Men Do’ is narrated by Noah himself, and convincingly balances social realism, immigrant crime story and absurd comedy – not least in the scenes where the young Noah is invited to an interview with an entire panel of social workers, educators and police officers, who all want to guide him safely towards adulthood. But who at the same time let him (and us) experience from the inside what it’s like to be weighed and measured by the rest of society, regardless of how you behave.

Craigslist Allstars

Samira Elagoz, Finland & Netherlands

The young Finnish performance artist Samira Elagoz posts an open casting call on Craigslist, a parallel digital universe, where everyone can live out their own idea of themselves. Every encounter is a social experiment, which Samira documents (and stages) on her own terms. A magician, a lonely plumber and a soft-core porn director are some of the characters that Samira meets on her journey from Amsterdam to Berlin. And which are immortalised in chapters that alternate from observant social realism to a (very) direct interaction between Samira and her new friends, and from a minimalist concept to a maximalist sensory bombardment of neon lights and banging electronica. The internet is a social laboratory, and ‘Craigslist Allstars’ gives it a cinematic form, which is dictated by the experiment itself. And Samira Elagoz also manages to demonstrate that a camera, a good idea and a solid dose of fearlessness is all you need to create a contemporary take of a post-internet documentary, where intimacy and performance melt together into a wild and unruly hybrid.


Kristoffer Borgli, Norway

A viral video of a young Norwegian man who provokes random people on the street to beat him up becomes the first domino to topple in an absurd media saga that sends him to L.A. as the star of a campaign for an energy drink. The advertising executives have dollar signs in their eyes: it is extreme, it is viral and it is everything that young people want! What he hasn’t told anyone is that his videos are fake. And so things go horribly wrong. The man is called Amir and he is an artist, ‘DRIB’ is a cover name for a real energy drink and the whole story is true. But there are many layers of reality in the Norwegian filmmaker Kristoffer Borgli’s comical and upbeat reconstruction of the increasingly bizarre chain of events. For Amir may well be the joker in his own game, but he is finding it hard to keep his cool in Los Angeles’s self-promoting advertising reality. This year’s most ‘fresh’ film is also a critical course in media hype and in not believing everything you see.

The John Dalli Mystery

Jeppe Rønde, Denmark & Norway

Eight years ago, Mads Brügger and Mikael Bertelsen tried to solve the murder of an EU official in 1993. A project that concluded in a dead end. Hoping to make good for their old defeat, the two journalists decide to investigate a complex case about the former EU Health Commissioner, John Dalli, who was fired under suspicion of being in the pocket of the tobacco industry. Brügger and Bertelsen travel to Malta to meet Dalli, who comes across as quite likeable. And it doesn’t take long before they uncover an extensive conspiracy against him, when Dalli is suddenly contacted by a secret source who claims to be in possession of documents and recordings that contain plans to kill him! The source agrees to send the explosive material to Malta, and the two Danish journalists convince Dalli to enter an agreement with the shady source. And from then on, ‘The John Dalli Mystery’ develops into a disturbing and dark-humoured detective film with far-reaching consequences and with threads running from Brussels to an island in the Caribbean.

Last Men in Aleppo

Feras Fayyad, Denmark, Syria & Germany

The opening film of this year’s CPH:DOX has already proven its worth and importance by winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in January this year. And the Danish-produced documentary also gets unusually close to the people who don’t run away, but come running, when the bombs explode in Syria’s ravaged city of Aleppo. The doctors from the Syrian aid organisation the White Helmets work their way through collapsed schools and homes to take care of both survivors and the dead. The film is an unforgettable portrait of the three reluctant heroes Khaled, Mahmoud and Subhi, who in spite of incomprehensible opposition insist on bringing those people to safety who can still be saved – and on clinging on to humanity in the form of impromptu football matches and fishing trips in the midst of the horrors of war. In spite of its harsh and merciless context, ‘Last Men in Aleppo’ is first and foremost a tribute to human courage and compassion.

…When You Look Away

Phie Ambo, Denmark

How far does consciousness reach? And are we maybe connected with each other in ways that we never knew? It is not the first time that Phie Ambo embarks on dissecting the relationship between the physical limits and the metaphysical realm – but this time the film itself is part of that effort. Ambo uses her topic as a deliberate obstruction: she is not allowed to make contact with the participants – they either have to come to her by themselves or be referred to her by others. And the lines between the dots extend from Holger Bech Nielsen to a clairvoyant woman, and from quantum physics to a laboratory for vitalised water in Jutland. Questions lead to answers which lead to new questions – which lead to surprises that will astonish even the most hardboiled skeptics. Several of them even end up participating in Ambo’s consciousness experiment themselves. Coincidence or what? A thought-provoking film from the unknown borderland between science and alternative world views.



View all the nominees here. 

All synopses via CPH:DOX

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.

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