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The Norwegian International Film Festival

This year the 44th Norwegian Film Festival took place in Haugesund between the 20th and 26th of August.

The sleepy town of Haugesund in southern Norway is famous for King Harald Fairhair, the first king of Norway, living nearby the town. In the early years, the coastal waters off Haugesund were hugely popular as a large source of herring, and the town grew accordingly. In the last decades, the town, like its neighbours, have been turning towards the petroleum industry, with the herring being long gone.

Haugesund is rather small – its 36,000 inhabitants have it ranked at 22nd in terms of population. This small town is located somewhere along the coast between the larger cities of Bergen and Stavanger. The Norwegian Film Festival ahs been hosted here since 1973, and the film awards, the Amanda’s, have been here since 1985.

The otherwise quiet town was filled with hundreds of press, industry and guests from the Norwegian film industry.

The opening film of the event was The Lion Woman, a highly anticipated yet very non-Norwegian film. Posters of the film were to be found on every street corner of Haugesund, and the premiere was widely pushed. Reviews of the film that came the following day placed it as a mediocre Norwegian work, and anticipation then turned to the finishing film, Cave, directed by the highly talented Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken. This film is considerably more Norwegian in style and is sure to be a popular film at the festival.

Among the other films receiving a large amount of attention is the documentary Magnus, an English-language hour-long story of Magnus Carlsen’s rise to becoming the number one chess player in the world. The film had its premiere earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival in Canada and has since made the trip back home. Carlsen himself did not attend the premiere but we were instead greeted with his father, sister and the film production crew at the premiere.

The Danish film The Day Will Come was also targeted as a big release, and the queen of Danish drama, Sofie Gråbøl, was in attendance as part of the festival. The Day Will Come had its local premiere in April and has slowly been making its way around the Nordic countries. The Day Will Come will surely be popular with local audiences, and the film itself is moving into a mini series, which will debut on Danish television later.

The Pernilla August-directed A Serious Game screened as one of the festivals premieres. A Serious Game had its international release at the Berlin International Film Festival and is currently preparing to be released in local Sweden this month.

Overall, the Norwegian International Film Festival is an exciting chance midway through the year to catch up on topic Nordic releases and find out about which ones you can be expecting at the festival.

CategoriesFeatures Issue 15
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.