Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Norwegian Films at the Berlinale!

Our very own Nichole is currently spending some time overseas, but that's not stopping her from working/blogging! Here's a great post on some wonderful Norwegian movies!

Greetings from Berlin, where the Berlinale (the Berlin film festival) is celebrating is 60th birthday! Taking some time to take in the sights, I was quite pleased to see a decent representation of Norwegian films in the program. No word yet on how they fared in competition, but a maybe you can hedge your bets with these synopses:

En ganske snill mann (A Somewhat Gentle Man)
Dir. Hans Petter Moland
Ulrik has spent twelve years behind bars for murder. After his release he rents a small basement room. Ulrik doesn’t say much, but everyone he knows thinks he deserves a second chance. His gangster friend welcomes him with a pot plant. They talk about the good old times and about some unfinished business that Ulrik has with Kenny, who was to blame for Ulrik’s spell in prison. Kenny will pay for this with his life. As soon as Ulrik’s mate finds out where Kenny works, Ulrik borrows a car and begins to spy on Kenny. He follows him home. Kenny no longer lives alone. He has a wife. From the backyard Ulrik observes a happy couple. The sight really pulls at Ulrik’s heart strings. He calls up his ex-wife to find out how their son is getting on. His ex is not exactly overjoyed to see Ulrik and insists that he leave their son well alone. Ulrik’s been away for most of the boy’s childhood. The boy is now an adult and is doing just fine. Ulrik promises not to call him but then breaks his promise, visits his son and discovers that he’s about to become a grandfather. Ulrik is a changed man. He has an apartment, a pot plant, a son, and will soon have a grandchild; he also has a woman who likes him. But then he learns that he’s not allowed to see his grandchild because he’s a murderer, his girlfriend suddenly won’t have anything to do with him, and his gangster friend urges him to take his revenge on Kenny. Ulrik discovers that Kenny had nothing to do with his arrest. So why on earth should he kill Kenny? Wouldn’t the world be a better place without his gangster friend?

Bestevenner (Rafiki)
Dir. Christian Lo
Julie, Mette and Naisha are best friends and classmates. They live in a small village in a valley in Norway. At school they are rehearsing for the Christmas play, and Naisha is elected to play Santa Lucia. Julie’s biggest fear is to perform in front of the class. In order to overcome this fear, this year, she has been asked to introduce the Christmas play.

One day Naisha suddenly disappears and nobody knows where she and her mother are. It turns out they have run away from the local home for asylum-seekers and are hiding somewhere in Oslo. Their refugee application has been rejected, and they will be sent back home if the police find them.

Julie and Mette decide they need to find Naisha and her mother and help them. The trouble is that Julie’s dad is a policeman, Julie and Mette are only nine years old, Oslo is a long way from home, and Christmas is approaching.

With a secret address written in invisible ink as their only clue, Julie and Mette sneak off on the night train to the city. This marks the beginning of an unforgettable adventure in an exciting film about friendship and courage.

Knerten (Twigson)
Dir. Aasleik Engmark
Strong? Yes.
Brave? Yes.
A twig? Yes.
Ordinary? No! Because twigs like Twigson don’t grow on trees.
Twigs like Twigson exists in fantasies and play with you in the woods when you find it hard to be with everyone else. Twigs like Twigson don’t like to be left in an anthill, but will join you in the search of golden princesses. Twigs like Twigson don’t mind the fact that father sells underwear and stockings, or that big brother cuts his hair to fit in. Twigs like Twigson aren’t worried about having to fit in. It’s a real shame that there aren’t more Twigsons around.

Twigson is funny. He is animated. And Twigson is Junior’s faithful companion on all his adventures.

Mother and father are worried about how they are going to pay the bills; the roof is collapsing, and Junior even falls through it. It’s not always easy. Luckily, Junior and Twigson are able find solutions for almost everything. To earn some extra cash you can for example bring back the same bottles twice and claim the deposit for them a second time.

Sometimes even a little twig can make all the difference, as this story about an unusual friendship portrays.

Sinna mann (Angry Man)
Dir. Anita Killi
"One day I hope to be like Daddy, my big, kind Daddy! I’ll be good, and quiet, and hope the day will turn out fine,” thinks Boj. But then the Angry Man turns up after all …

SINNA MANN chronicles the heartbreaking story of childhood abuse at the hands of a violent father, and one boy’s brave attempt to seek help from Norway’s King.

I had hoped to take in En ganske snill mann, but it was totally ausverkauft (sold out) long before I arrived. Anyone seen it? Feedback? I'm sad to miss Stellan Skarsgaard's performance, whose work I've enjoyed in everything from National Treasure to Breaking the Waves. Hopefully, you, dear readers, won't think less of me for thinking so fondly of a Swede...

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