The doc filmmaker and several Nordic film graduates blew away the 200+ Nordic Talents attendees with personal and engaging stories.
After 15 pitches and screenings of 17 graduation films from six Nordic film schools, the top Nordic Talent Pitch Prize of NOK 250,000 was awarded yesterday at the National Film School of Denmark to the school's graduate Patricia Bbaale Bandak for her documentary project Better I Go Suffer.
The Danish director will go back to her native Uganda and uncover the veil of her traumatic past when her mother was brutally murdered. Bbaale Bandak had conquered the Nordic Talents audience with her graduation film Villa Villekulla, a heartfelt, warm and personal portrait of her own family.
Commenting on their top award to Better I Go Suffer, this year’s jury consisting of director May el-Toukhy (Queen of Hearts), Ulla Simonen (Avek), producer Grímar Jonsson (Net Top Films), Norwegian Film Institute film and TV commissioner Ståle Stein Berg, and London-based co-production director Christian Wikander (Twelwe Town) said:
“Inviting the audience into the story universe is an essential part of storytelling. Attracting the attention and keeping it is crucial, and hard. Doing it when the subject matter is brutal, merciless and devastating is taking artistic challenge to another level. To be able to celebrate life while at the same time convey the unsentimental brutality of living is next to impossible.
"This project masters this balance and left us in awe on so many levels; by its deeply personal engagement, by its sincerity, by its fearlessness – and impressively by its warmth and humour. We want to honour a filmmaker with a will and ability to convey personal experiences, even from the darkest corners of life, in an including and relevant manner."
The NOK50,000 Special Mention Award went to two other National Film School of Denmark graduates: Icelandic-born Katrin Björgvinsdóttir and Mie Skjoldemose for their project Queen Ingrid, a TV drama version of their 16’ fiction graduation film of the same name.
The TV series centres on Ingrid (33) who has never been in a relationship. When her best friend moves out to start a family, Ingrid goes on a mission to find love before it’s too late. The jury said: "Standing out in a field where there already are may splendid works of reference is an almost impossible task to master. Looking for love, searching for the right one, finding one’s place in the world is a well-known motive". Or like May [el Toukhy] puts it, "we are breast-fed with romantic tales of love and happiness». To bring originality and authenticity into this equation demands craftsmanship, maturity and genuine curiosity. We are happy to see all of this on display in this eminent work. A warm, witty and sharply observed story that took us by surprise by its thorough quality in every level."
Commenting on the overall 2019 harvest of graduation film students, Ståhle Stein Berg said he and his co-jurors were literally "blown away" as there were literally no weak projects. "Some were perhaps a bit early in development, but all were engaging and entertaining. Stories were very personal and many students still managed to tell something bigger". Grímar Jónsson, producer of the acclaimed Icelandic films Rams and Under the Tree concurred with Berg: "If we keep on training talents of this level in the Nordics, I’m super optimistic about creativity in the region" he said.
May el Toukhy-previous winner of the Nordic Talents Prize Prize and former graduate of the National Film School of Denmark noted a change from her time as film student: "When I was at film school a decade ago, it was fine as a documentary filmmaker to be personal, but as fiction filmmaker, you would distance yourself from your topic. Now there are definitely more stories that spring out of personal experiences, but with themes that relate as well to a larger audience-be it reflections on society, integration, relationships or politics."
Seasoned Finnish producer Ulla Simonen pointed out at several projects that used their graduation film as starting point for their long form project. She underlined the diversity of genres - from documentary, animation, horror spoof, drama, TV series - and outstanding quality of the projects.
Asked if he would consider some of the TV projects pitched, seasoned TV drama specialist and former SVT head of drama Christian Wikander said: "Today you don’t really think in terms of platform or window. You look at the story - if it’s engaging and relevant as many projects can work on different platforms. What we’ve seen at this year’s Nordic Talents was impressive."
Wikander also praised Nordic Talents, co-organised by Nordisk Film & TV Fond and the National Film School of Denmark. "It was incredibly inspirational and energising to be around talent. Too many TV markets can’t stop growing and are becoming less relevant. But Nordic Talents and other events like Göteborg’s TV Drama Vision remain very focused and crucial."
The 18th Nordic Talents was held from September 4-5, 2019.
For the full list of projects pitched at Nordic Talents and programme, CLICK HERE.
Watch out for portraits of Talents to Watch out for in our next newsletter published September 10.