NT2021 artwork / PHOTO: NFTVF

Six Nordic Talents to watch

We present six promising new Nordic voices among the 18 film graduates who pitched their projects at last week’s Nordic Talents Online.

Angelika Abramovitch, writer/director
Graduate from Stockholm University of the Arts
Nordic Talents Special Mention Winner


Six Nordic Talents to watch

Angelika Abramovitch / PHOTO: Private

Born in Yalta, Crimea, Angelika Abramovitch moved to Sweden aged 4. Having received an artistic education as a child, she first flirted with the idea of becoming an actor, had some acting experience, then turned to photography. “I photographed my friends running around naked in the Swedish forest for my artwork, and they felt totally comfortable with me. That gave me the first hint that perhaps I should work behind the camera,” she said. She then moved to London where she kick-started her filmmaking career, making shorts and music videos. Her short film The Horse which she wrote, directed and in which she starred, won the Silver prize at the Swedish Short Film Festival 2014. She then enrolled at the Stockholm University of the Arts.

Inspiration: “I let my personal feelings evolve into something bigger-sometimes crazy or scary. Visually I’m inspired by the aesthetics of the 70s and 80s. David Lynch is one of the directors I love.”

Vision: Attracted to female-driven stories. Having watched a lot of horror movies, her style mixes beauty, darkness, with touches of humour. Attention to detail to create authenticity is key to Abramovitch.

Graduation film: Catcave Hysterica (fiction)
Three stories take place during one night at a ladies’ room in a nightclub. It’s a film about heartbreak, sisterhood, friendship and betrayal that unites us on a colourful and emotional journey

Project pitched: A Soviet Love Story (fiction)
This film is about love, youth and music 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.

Inspired by her parents’ own story, the film will have a three-part structure. The first part set in 1968, Crimea, is about boy meets girl, sex, rock music and love. The cool Anton, who is part of a band, meets Ania and the two fall in love. Cut to 1986. The couple has a son-Andrei, who dies of leukaemia, following the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Anton and Ania’s relationship deteriorates. The third part will deal with the parents’ inner struggles, longing for each other, and eventual acceptance of grief. Abramovitch said Swedish producer Linus Andersson (Lampray Film) has boarded the project.

Jimm Garbis, producer
Graduate from Stockholm University of the Arts
Joint-Nordic Talents Pitch Winner


Six Nordic Talents to watch

Jimm Garbis / PHOTO: Private

Garbis is a freelance creative producer.

He was born in 1993 in Tranås, Småland, from a Gambian mother and Greek father. His multi-cultural roots strongly influences his creative choices. A fan of Hollywood blockbusters, he enrolled at a filmmaking course at Sundbybergs Folkhögskola, Stockholm county, then joined Stockholm University of the Arts in 2018. As creative producer, Garbis is passionate about storytelling and working closely with writers and directors.

Inspirations: pop-corn blockbuster movies from the 1990s-2000.

Vision: wants to produce mainstream entertaining films playing with form, with an international appeal. Interested in creating spaces where artists can work freely, and push them to their limit.

Graduation film: A Swedish Defence (fiction) by Simon Elvås.
In this satirical drama, a Turkish military delegation is visiting Sweden and the weapon engineer Josef has been entrusted with selling the new Swedish weapons system. Unfortunately, Joseph’s 16-year-old daughter Nadia is a peace activist and together with her friends she is determined to stop the arms deal. When Josef cannot find his keycard, chaos and family quarrels break out in the middle of world politics.

Hawa Sanneh, producer
Graduate from Stockholm University of the Arts
Joint-Nordic Talents Pitch Winner


Six Nordic Talents to watch

Hawa Sanneh / PHOTO: Private

Sanneh is currently working as in-house producer at Sweden’s leading production powerhouse B-RF.

Born in Stockholm in 1991, she grew up watching films, TV shows and music videos. She first studied Culture, Society and media at Lindköping University as she initially saw filmmaking as a hobby rather than a possible career. While studying, she co-directed the short film Gay Enough which toured at a few festivals and produced several music videos. In 2016 she was appointed project manager for Cinema Africa, a non-profit organisation involved in spreading high-quality African and diaspora cinema in Sweden. After a three-year experience at the organisation, film became her raison d’être and she enrolled at the Stockholm University of Arts to do a BFA in film production.

She has produced Angelika Abramovitch’s short film Tjejtoan 4-Ever and graduation film Catcave Hysterica, Jonelle Twum’s A Mother’s Body about two black women working as hotel cleaners from a daughter’s perspective. The film is nominated for Best New Nordic Voices at this year’s Nordisk Panorama.

Sanneh is co-founders of the diversity platform People of Film and serves as associate programmer at Nordisk Panorama 2021.

Inspirations: Sanneh’s core interest is in contemporary stories that depict reality, either from a single person’s viewpoint or from a bigger social perspective. Among her favourite filmmakers are Ousmane Sembene, Julie Dash, Ulrich Seidl, and Jordan Peele in his new take on horror as a genre. She is also inspired by US actor/producer/writer Issa Rae [The Hate you Give] and Michaela Coel [I Will Destroy You] and their work “that tells stories of how it is to be young and black today.”

Vision: “I want to create the kind of film that I personally miss and want to see, i.e. stories where black people actually are a vital part of the process, from writing to post production. Every step is important and I see way too often that our bodies are used as a way to "check diversity boxes".

Graduation film: Catcave Hysterica by Angelica Abramovitch.
Three stories take place during one night at a ladies’ room in a nightclub. It’s a film about heartbreak, sisterhood, friendship and betrayal that unites us on a colourful and emotional

Joint-pitch: Lovette (fiction project)
Winner Best Nordic Talent Pitch Project

Surrealistic thriller that challenges the intersection of race and gender. The story follows Lovette (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. Garbis said he and Sanneh who have Gambian-origins, were both keen to use Gambia as a setting, and to create the frame for an entertaining thriller or horror movie, with an anti-hero in the lead. The story will explore white guilt from a black point of view.

August Joensalo, writer/director
Graduate HDK-Valand, Sweden


Six Nordic Talents to watch

August Joensalo / PHOTO: Private

Joensalo was born in 1993 in a small village in Northern Carelia, Eastern Finland.

“My background is in other art forms: I spent my childhood inhaling books and my middle school years drawing portraits every day,” they said. “When I got a camera aged 15, I started photographing portraits of my friends. I didn't know filmmaking was a thing, but got fascinated by moving images, and applied to film school - Aalto University, fiction directing - as a person who didn't know anything about film, and somehow got in! After my BA, I moved to Gothenburg and did my Master's at HDK-Valand, which really opened up how I thought about filmmaking. My graduation film has screened at Huesca International Film Festival, and will screen at Nordisk Panorama, Love & Anarchy Helsinki Film Festival and Gaze LGBTQ+.”

Inspirations: “I'm inspired by my friends and loved ones. I'm endlessly fascinated by how they see, understand and explore the world and their dreams. Agnes Varda is my filmmaking role model, I'm especially in love with her later work and documentaries and the freedom with which she uses the craft to explore the world.”

Vision: “Time-traveling stories about trans people in space is my ultimate goal in storytelling.”

Graduation Film: Space is Quite a Lot of Things (documentary)
Curiosity about a world without gender sets a journey through a world of jellyfish and disco uncles, creating space for four trans people to share how they relate (or not) to their own gender, imagine visions of their own queer utopia, and reveal whether gender can be felt in your toes.

Pitch project: Nonbinary Bones (documentary)
Nonbinary Bones is a film about three nonbinary people fighting for agency over their bodies: smuggling illegal testosterone and going against doctors who claim to be able to decide about other people’s genders and bodies.

Joensalo has received a development grant from AVEK for the project and will apply to the Swedish Film Institute’s Wild Card initiative.

Violeta Fellay, director
Graduate from The Animation Workshop, Viborg


Six Nordic Talents to watch

Violeta Fellay / PHOTO: Private

Violeta Fellay was born 1990 in Zárate, Buenos Aires. An early fan of Japanese anime, she first studied filmmaking at Universidad del Cine between 2013-2014 before joining the Pepe School Land animation school in Barcelona. She enrolled in 2017 at The Animation Workshop for a Bachelor degree in Character Animation, interactive technology, Video Graphics and Special Effects.

Her graduation film Riot5 was selected at the Talent Programme at Animation Production Days 2021. Fellay also runs the webcomic Run.Stop.Go.

Inspirations: “I grew up watching animated media made for boys. I love the feel-good energy the messages of friendship, teamwork, that make you want to be a better person.”

Vision: “As a queer woman, I know our experiences are rich and varied, and there’s place in the current animation space for our stories to be told. I want to see stories with the values I admired as a child told through a queer and female lens. Nowadays, there’s a very positive movement of including LGBTQ+ themes in animated media, as opposed to the past where such themes were at best the butt of a joke, and at worst, censored completely.”

Graduation film: RIOT5 (animation)
It’s the RIOT5 roller derby team’s decisive match against their rivals, the Sirens, which will determine which team can make it to the finals. After months of hard work, RIOT5 finally became a team that could compete on even ground with fan favourite Sirens, but disaster strikes when Griz, the team’s best blocker, is seriously injured during a pivotal moment in the match.

Pitched project: RIOT5-animated series (26x24’)
Cherry is the ubiquitous millennial: freshly graduated, unable to find a job, working part-time, and filled with anxiety. But then she meets Griz, who practically drags her to roller derby practice, and convinces her to join the all-female team for training.

Oskar Vignisson, writer/director
National Film School of Denmark


Six Nordic Talents to watch

Oskar Vignisson / PHOTO: Private

Óskar Kristinn Vignisson was born in 1989 in Grindavik, Iceland. Raised in a working class family who for generations worked in the fishing industry, Vignisson’s interest in film only started when he moved to Reykjavik in his early 20s, to study fine arts at university. “I discovered international films in Reykjavik and from then on, I was totally immersed in film,” he said. Having heard about the National Film School of Denmark through his senior co-national, Dagur Kári, he applied for a director course and just graduated this year.

His graduation film Free Men was selected for the prestigious Cannes Cinéfondation competition and world premiered on the Croisette July 14, 2021.

Vignisson has now moved full-time to Denmark with his young family.

Inspirations: all types of films but recent favourites are Fellini movies and Pixar’s Soul.

Vision: “I want to explore humour in a banal universe, focus on human relationships and mostly on the underdogs.”

Graduation film: Free Men (Fiction film)
Two best friends get in trouble with their job when asked to fix a toilet in an illegal housing for foreign workers.

Pitched project: Free Men
Daniel and Emil’s friendship is tested when they are fired from their job after accidentally ruining an expensive machine. Unable to find a job, they become criminals and steal fish from their former workplace.

“Poor people make poor decisions, but how much can we blame them for their circumstances? The main characters in the film want to break the cycle of poverty. I want to give them pride and ownership of their life over circumstances,” said Vignisson.