Graduate producers Hawa Sanneh and Jimm Garbis won the Nordic Talents Pitch Prize and director Angelika Abramovitch the Special Mention Prize.
The two-day online pitching and networking event Nordic Talents wrapped Thursday September 9 in an upbeat mood as the winners and full slate of 15 projects from 18 graduation pitchers offered a very hopeful sample of up-and-coming talents from the Nordics.
Diversity in all its shapes with strong personal voices dominated the 21st Nordic Talents, where the top awards where handed out to Swedish promising talents with multicultural roots, all graduates from the Stockholm University of the Arts (Stockholms Dramatiska Högskola).
This year’s jury consisted of writer/director Milad Alami (Sweden), Karoline Leth, producer at Zentropa (Denmark), actress/writer/director Cecilie Mosli (Norway), Steven Meyers, script consultant at the Icelandic Film Centre and film educator (Iceland) and Elli Toivoniemi, director/producer at Tuffi Films (Finland).
The coveted NOK 250,000 Nordic Talents Pitch Prize went to the project LOVETTE pitched by producers Hawa Sanneh and Jimm Garbis.
The fiction project Lovette is a surrealistic thriller that challenges the intersection of race and gender. The story follows eponymous character (20), a mysterious woman who drifts along the Gambian beach, with a hole in her soul that can only be repaired by murdering European men.
The jury members said in their statement:
"The Nordic Talents Pitch Prize is awarded to a project that really struck the Jury as radical, bold and provocative. It is a high concept, producer-driven project that offers a much-needed change to the Nordic story landscape through its fresh genre perspective. The prize goes to Lovette”
“At its core, Lovette tackles a really difficult subject in a daring way that needs a lot of story development and therefore the jury strongly encourages the producers to start immediately with seeking a strong writer and director to support and develop the courageous aspects, as they steer on the development as a joint creative team. The Jury sees a strong potential for reaching international audiences and festivals, and we hereby express our trust in Hawa Sanneh and Jimm Garbis to kick off the project’s development journey - stay ambitious and congratulations!"
Sanneh was also attached to the 19-minute graduation film Catcave Hysterica by Angelika Abramovich - winner of the Nordic Talents Special Mention Prize - while Garbis was the producer of the 20-minute graduation film Swedish Defence by Simon Elvås.
The NOK 50,000 Special Mention Prize was awarded to director Angelika Abramovitch for her fiction project A SOVIET LOVE STORY.
The film about love, youth and music is set in the midst of a burning Soviet Union, where little was allowed and music from the west was considered propaganda. On a Crimean Riviera, a restless youth made history and found love.
The jury said about the project:
"We have chosen to award the Nordic Talents Special Mention to a project that tells one of the most memorable and complete stories we heard this week. It’s a personal story embedded within an important cultural moment in recent history. It’s a clash of Western values within an Eastern Europe yearning for change. Mostly it’s the story about a dynamic young couple, emblematic of their generation, about their enduring love, and about great personal highs and greater sorrows.”
“This prize is awarded to A Soviet Love Story. Director Angelika Abramovitch impressed us with her graduation film, and we hope she brings a similar dynamic energy to directing this project, as well as to the further development of the story.“
Promising Next Generation - Jury Reactions
Commenting on this year’s Nordic Talents overall pitch competition, seasoned producer Karoline Leth behind the acclaimed TV series The Legacy, Rita, and documentary Defamation said: “I am full of hope for the Nordic industry. It feels like the young generation is open-hearted, strong, and diverse."
Leth who served for many years as Pitch Coach for Nordic Talents, said she could see a major improvement in the rising talents’ motivation. “For years, as pitch coach, I would look for the motives and ask again and again: why do you want to tell this story and to who? This year, all graduates had solid motivations. I’ve seen how things have changed for the better,” she stressed. That was really lovely!”
Elli Toivoniemi, producer of the 2019 Berlinale Crystal Bear winner Stupid Young Heart concurred with Leth: “I’m super confident and hopeful for the future of the Nordic audiovisual industry. Sometimes as a producer, you’re afraid not to find new ideas, new voices, but in terms of subject matters, forms and formats, this year’s crop was extremely diverse and strong. The pitches were also remarkably professional.“
Toivoniemi also underlined the urgent personal stories, some of them with critical and political standpoints.
Seasoned actress and TV director Cecilie Mosli (Mammon, Thin Ice, Grey’s Anatomy), said she felt the pitches were “very inspiring and refreshing.”
“It gives me hope for more diverse voices in storytelling, not only in creators and characters, but also in the way of telling stories from new perspectives, or maybe from perspectives that just haven’t been heard before,” she said. “I am very impressed by these filmmakers and I am looking forward to seeing all of them telling their stories. They are all worth following,” she observed.
Milad Alami, a former Nordic Talents winner, multi-awarded for the Danish film The Charmer and TV drama When the Dust Settles was also impressed by the level and diversity of the pitches. From his director’s perspective, he felt the large number of very personal stories based on the writer/director’s own life experience, made them richer. He suggested a possible connection between the scale of the projects -many intimate and small - and Covid-19.
Steven Meyers shared Alami’s views. “Perhaps Covid had an impact on the personal stories that were told. You tell stories that matter to you, but you also have to find a way to make these universal,” he noted.
Meyers praised all graduates who had the guts to pitch. "It’s such a key moment when you step out of the film school into the wider world. It can be frightening,” he said. He also thanked Nordic Talents organisers for giving film graduates an opportunity to defend their work in front of an audience and to get in the habit of boiling down the essence of their project.
More than 200 attendees followed Nordic Talents, held exceptionally online for the second consecutive year due to Covid-19.
Other highlights of this year edition included a case study on the TV series TROM and a Producers’ Pitch from 12 prominent Nordic production companies.
Nordic Talents was organised by Nordisk Film & TV Fond.
For the full list of pitches, click here: https://nordictalents.com/
Watch out for our story - Nordic Talents to Watch - to be published on Tuesday.