Filmmakers Maria Bäck, Juho Kuosmanen, Fanny Ovesen and Thordur Pálsson share their experience and give tips to the next generation of Nordic Talents.

This year the pitching and networking event for Nordic film graduates is celebrating its 20th anniversary from October 21-22 and will - exceptionally - move online.

Nordic Talents is a rare opportunity for Nordic film & TV producers, financiers, talent scouts to discover some of tomorrow’s best writers, directors and producers from the Nordic region.

The event is supported by Nordisk Film & TV Fond.

Participant registration deadline is October 15 at noon (CET). To sign up to attend and check the full programme CLICK HERE

Read our second round of snap interviews with former film graduates – some of them already internationally acclaimed filmmakers. If you've missed round one, click HERE.

Writer/director, Denmark
Swedish-born Maria Bäck graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 2013. The same year she won the Nordic Talents Pitch Prize for her documentary project I Remember When I Die. The film had its world premiere in competition at the CPH:DOX Festival 2015 and won an Honorary Mention in Göteborg for its brave artistic choices.

Her latest work Psychosis in Stockholm - a heightened drama based on a personal recollection of an incident experienced when she was 14 - was the opening film of the 2020 Göteborg Film Festival and nominated for Best Nordic Film. Bäck is developing a new documentary and a new fiction feature.

What did it mean for you to attend Nordic Talents and to win the top prize?
MB: Winning Nordic Talents in 2013 gave me a crucial push and helped me and my team to carry straight on into the work for I Remember When I Die, immediately after finishing film school.

The recognition was of great importance, both emotionally and financially, and I will always be very grateful for that experience and for Nordic Talent as an event. It is a truly unique and generous gathering, with lots of opportunities regardless of whether you win a prize or not. It also proved to me that being brave, staying true to ourselves and our expression, is what matters the most when presenting an upcoming project. There are no right or wrongs really, but you need to dig deep and dare to put yourself out there, with your heart wide open, ready to shiver and shake.

What advice would you give emerging talents trying to get into the film & TV industry?
MB: The industry is filled with vibrating thoughts, life changing images and good intentions. And at the same time, it is a very tricky and often an unhealthy industry, with lots of focus in the wrong places! It is easy to get lost and forget what it is really about.

We owe ourselves and each other to try to cut the bullshit! My only honest piece of advice is always to try and take responsibility for your own focus, and always be as true a version of yourself and your voice as absolutely possible. Nobody wants you to act or create like somebody else. And you can never measure your success in any reasonable way anyway.

You just need to find your own meaning and lust in the process itself; and remember the privilege and pleasure of being able to express your visions and share it with the world. Mastering that kind of focus enables the magic to occur.

Writer/director, Finland
Juho Kuosmanen graduated from the Aalto University School of Arts, Design & Architecture in 2010. His graduation film Painting Sellers earned him the first prize at Cannes’ Cinéfondation in May 2010, before screening at Nordic Talents.

In 2016, he was back in Cannes with his feature debut The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki which won the Un Certain Regard Prize. The heart-warming black & white biopic went on to collect a Best New Director Award in Chicago and eight national Jussi awards, including Best Film.

His sophomore feature Compartment Number 6 is set to premiere in 2021. Kuosmanen is also active as a theatre and opera director.

What did it mean for you to pitch your project at Nordic Talents?
JK: I hated the idea of pitching, because I thought it’s marketing. And marketing an idea that is still in the process is terrible. But when I realised that pitching is actually a tool to crystallise your idea of the script, I started to like the idea of pitching. Pitching should be thought as a script tool, not marketing tool. Unfortunately, I realised this years later.

My own pitch was catastrophic, but I met many nice people.

What advice would you give emerging talents trying to get into the film & TV industry?
JK: I don’t have any advices so I will quote Milos Forman: ”Tell the truth, and try not to be boring.”

Writer/director, Sweden
Göteborg-born Fanny Ovesen graduated from the Lillehammer Norwegian Film School in 2018 with the short film She-Pack which won the Norwegian Amanda-Best Short Film among others.

She was handed the Nordic Talents Pitch Prize in 2018 for her feature project Laura, a road movie, based on her own experiences in the European couch-surfing community. The project garnered the 2019 Swedish 'Anna prize' for its relevance to the UN Women’s Convention. Laura is in pre-production at Sweden’s leading production house B-Reel Films.

What did it mean for you to attend Nordic Talents and win an award?
FO: Nordic Talents was a real kick-off in my career. The opportunity to screen my graduation film and then pitch my feature film project Laura helped me get in contact with the producers with whom I’m working now.

Along with a good festival round for my graduation film, the Nordic Talents Award gave me a lot of attention - which has opened many doors for me since. I created contacts all over Scandinavia through the event, with whom I’m still in touch. So, professionally, it was the best start I could have had, and I have already started to experience the positive consequences coming from good collaborators, financial support and faith in the project.

Also, getting a significant amount of money to develop the project without having to panic over how to earn my living gave the film a really great start and me a lot of space to explore it artistically.

And on a personal standpoint, while coming out of school with a short film and an idea for a feature, I had no clue if my works and ideas would resonate with producers and decision-makers. Getting that confirmation was tremendously important to me.

What advice would you give emerging talents trying to get into the film & TV industry?
FO: What I found so beautiful at Nordic Talents was that the whole industry was actually there to look for our stories and perspectives. I think many of us, while studying, have the idea that we have to get out and compete with filmmakers a lot more experienced than us and this seems pretty impossible.

But it’s easy to forget that our new voices can actually add something that the industry is missing. I really got this feeling during Nordic Talents - that there was a space for me somewhere out there among all the other talented people. I hope new graduates can enter the film business with a confidence that their voices and perspectives are important and do their best to fill that space. It makes it a lot easier, though, if you put some real time and effort into finding out what your contribution is. What point of view, or experience you have that is missing out there.”

Writer/director, Iceland
Icelandic-born Thordur Pálsson graduated in 2015 from the National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield in the UK with the social drama Brothers, nominated for the Palm Spring Short Film Fest.

The same year he won the Nordic Talents Pitch Prize for his dark feature project Stuck in Dundalk.

He then created, co-wrote and co-directed the high-end crime series Valhalla Murders (RÚV), first Icelandic series co-produced by Netflix.

Pálsson is currently working on the period horror film The Damned, a UK/Icelandic/Norwegian co-production.

What did it mean for you to attend Nordic Talents and win the top prize?
TP:I know that I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't won the Nordic Talents. It helped me get noticed in the film industry and subsequently led to me making The Valhalla Murders. It changed my life.

What advice would you give emerging talents trying to get into the film & TV industry?
TP: I recommend people to make as many short films as they can and write as many stories as they can. Preparation and perseverance equals opportunity.