As young children, the half-siblings Axel and Yanne were sent to Norway for adoption. The boy enters a wealthy family in Oslo's West side, and the girl an average family on the East side. In contrast to her younger brother, Yanne remembers their journey to Norway, but she has no idea where he might be now. All this is about to change, however, as Yanne's Polish friend Maria starts working as maid for Axel's parents. She discovers a photograph of a young boy, the same one she saw on the wall at Yanne's flat. She takes on the task of reuniting them. But before she has time to realise the consequences, she has set in motion a chain of events which involve the emotions of many others than just her own.
Jury motivation: This year's candidate is an intimate study on relationships between people, depicted with elegancy as well as profoundness. Upperdog excels with both cinematic, thematic and story-wise maturity, and a strong will and ability to understand the grievousness ordinary people experience in their lives. The film offers a nuanced build-up of atmosphere, and sophisticated work on audio and light settings, yet the cinematic expression could often be perceived as rough and direct. The director manages to say something definite about the political and social climate in today's Norway, by sinking into various young people's emotions, needs and challenges. The film is essentially about the possibilities of, and the need for, sometimes making choices that will have major consequences. Upperdog is a film that is both engaging and touching.
National jury: Le LD Nguyen & Øyvor Dalan Vik