Sundance Review: ‘Sonja – The White Swan’ Explores an Interesting Life, Settles Into Standard Beats

How much do you know about Sonja Henie? The answer to that question may dictate to what degree you’ll enjoy the biopic Sonja – The White Swan. Directed by Anne Sewitsky and starring Ine Marie Wilmann, the film tells the story of a unique star within a standard structure. As a child in Norway, young Sonja learns how to skate with her brother. Quickly we jump into adulthood, our lead now a European sensation, ice skating to packed venues.

When she and her father (Anders Mordal) get the offer to expand the scope of Sonja’s celebrity from Arthur Wirtz (Malcolm Adams), it’s an easy decision. They move to Hollywood and are in the office of Darryl Zanuck (Aidan McArdle) before long. The studio mogul makes one offer. Sonja demands a bigger one. And she gets what she wants. Cut to a reenacted dance sequence from One in a Million,
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Writer Mette Bølstad, Producer Synnøve Hørsdal Discuss ‘State of Happiness’

  • Variety
A hit from the get-go, nabbing best script and best music at its premiere during last year’s Canneseries world premiere, Norway’s petrol-fueled drama “State of Happiness” launched on broadcaster Nrk in October to an impressive 629,000 linear viewers, equating to a 37.4% share, with another 70,000 watching it online.

“State of Happiness” is the story of a group of young Norwegians living in the small Norwegian fishing village of Stavanger, and how their lives change after oil was discovered just off the coast. The series’ eight episodes cover an eight year period from 1969 to 1972.

Season 2 is already well into development and will kick off in 1977 and covers the three years that follow. It proposes to examine the lengths people are willing to go to for wealth, and how that wealth can change them. It also promises a major off-shore accident.

This week the series was selected to participate in Göteborg’s Nordic Light: TV Drama section,
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Sundance Film Review: ‘Sonja: The White Swan’

  • Variety
Sundance Film Review: ‘Sonja: The White Swan’
When Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie zipped into Hollywood, she was a talent the industry had never seen before, or since — a three-time Olympic ladies’ singles champion (a record she continues to hold) whose chipper, if chilly romantic comedy hits kept Twentieth Century-Fox solvent in the build-up to World War II, in part because she phoned up her pal Joseph Goebells to make sure her pictures played in Nazi Germany.

Was Henie a Nazi? No, says Anne Sewitsky’s shiny biopic “Sonja: The White Swan.” Henie was simply an opportunist, and a variety of other expletives depending on who you ask. Take, say, Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck, who here barges into Henie’s backyard to call her a “man-eating nymphomaniac.” That scene stretches credulity, but with a soundtrack that bops between ’80s rocker Billy Squier and the synthesizers that greet the snow queen’s arrival in L.
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‘State of Happiness,’ ‘The Flatey Enigma’ To Compete At Goteborg’s TV Drama Vision

  • Variety
“State of Happiness,” “The Flatey Enigma” and “The Inner Circle” are among the six Nordic drama series which will be presented at Goteborg Film Festival’s TV Drama Vision and compete for the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize.

Written by Mette M. Bølstad (“Nobel”), “State of Happiness” follows four young characters who come from different backgrounds and are thrown into a whirlwind of opportunity during Norway’s oil boom of the 1970s.

The Flatey Enigma,” written by Margrét Örnólfsdóttir, is a mystery thriller series based on Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson’s novels. “The Inner Circle,” penned by Håkan Lindhé, is a political thriller about an ambitious young man belonging to the Swedish political elite on a journey to fulfill his life long dream and become Prime Minister of Sweden.

The other nominated series are “Kieler Street,” written by Stig Frode Henriksen, Jesper Sundnes and Patrik Syversen; “All the Sins,” written by
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Canneseries Peeks ‘Behind the Curtain’ With Top European Showrunners

  • Variety
While an American showrunner is like the duke of a small fiefdom, with a hand in everything from casting to editing to decisions made in the writers room, the same role hasn’t exactly been exported to TV industries overseas.

But at “Behind the Curtain: Meet the Showrunners!”, a panel discussion held Wednesday afternoon as part of the In Development program organized by MipTV and Canneseries, three top European writers and showrunners described an evolution in the relationship between broadcasters, producers, and series creators.

When he first cut his teeth as a writer-producer, Jörg Winger, managing director of Ufa Fiction, and executive producer-showrunner-creator of “Deutschland 83/86” and “Hackerville,” said, “I had to hide it from the broadcaster, because they thought producer and writer was a conflict of interest.”

He added, “It was not just that writers weren’t in charge. They weren’t even allowed to participate.”

Ludovica Rampoldi, screenwriter of “1992” and “Gomorra,
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‘When Heroes Fly,’ ‘State of Happiness’ Top Canneseries

  • Variety
‘When Heroes Fly,’ ‘State of Happiness’ Top Canneseries
Cannes — Omri Givron, co-creator of famed Israeli series “Hostages,” proved the big winner at the first Canneseries festival taking Best Series for the fast paced Israel/Colombia-set drama-thriller “When Heroes Fly,” which he created, wrote and directed.

Produced by Eitan Mansuri’s Spiro Films (“Foxtrot” and “Lebanon”), “When Heroes Fly” is sold by Keshet Intl. It turns on a former 2006 Lebanon war combatant who reunites with his estranged commando unit comrades to rescue the love of his life, abducted by a cartel in Colombia, and who’s disappearance, exacerbating the impact gov his war experience, has reduced her to a guilt ridden psychiatric case, .

Kicking off with an impactful portrayal of an ambush in the Lebanon war in its first episode, seen at Cannes, “When Heroes Fly” looks set to develop into a series on the trauma and loss violence wreaks an a once close-knit group of friends.

Beyond “When
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Norway’s Maipo Prepares Dystopian Thriller ‘Fortress,’ Season 2 of ‘State of Happiness’ (Exclusive)

  • Variety
Leading Norwegian company Maipo is developing “Fortress,” an ambitious dystopian thriller, and is preparing the second season of “State of Happiness” (“Lykkeland”), the historical series which is competing this week at Canneseries.

“Fortress” is created and penned by two high-profile Norwegian screenwriters: John Kåre Raake, whose track record includes Nordic blockbusters such as “The Wave,” Roar Uthaug’s disaster movie, and “Ragnarok, a family film based on Viking mythology;” and Linn-Jeanethe Kyed, who notably co-wrote “Børning” and “Børning 2,” a action-comedy movie franchise set in the world of illegal sports car racing, and Benjamin Ree’s critically acclaimed documentary feature about the Norwegian chess prodigy, Magnus Carlsen.

Fortress” takes place in a near future in Norway which is now secluded from the rest of the world by a wall built by the nationalistic government. Norwegians live in absolute sovereignty, relying only on their own homegrown resources and caring solely about national affairs.
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Goteborg Film Festival unveils 450 film line-up

  • ScreenDaily
Goteborg Film Festival unveils 450 film line-up
World premieres include Fanny Ardant’s Stalin’s Couch [pictured], Elisabeth E. Schuch’s The Book Of Birdie, Erlingur Ottar Thoroddsen’s Rift, and Manuel Concha’s Blind Alley.

Goteborg Film Festival has announced its programme of nearly 450 films from 84 countries to screen during the festival’s 40th anniversary edition (Jan 27-Feb 6).

As reported earlier, the festival will kick off with Dome Karukoski’s Tom Of Finland.

The eight films (all world premieres) competing for the Dragon Award for Best Nordic Film – with a prize of $110,500 (Sek 1m) — are as follows:

Tom Of Finland by Dome Karukoski (Finland/Sweden/Denmark/Germany/Us)Beyond Dreams by Rojda Sekersöz (Sweden)The Ex-wife by Katja Wik (Sweden)Heartstone by Gudmundur A. Gudmundsson (Iceland/Denmark)Sámi Blood by Amanda Kernell (Sweden/Denmark/Norway)Little Wing bySelma Vilhunen (Finland)The Man by Charlotte Sieling (Denmark)Handle With Care by Arild Andresen (Norway)

The Nordic documentary competition includes:

Citizen Schein by Maud Nycander, [link
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Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2017: # 72. Anne Sewitsky’s Queen of Ice

Queen of Ice

Director: Anne Sewitsky

Writer: Mette M. Bølstad & Andreas Markusson

Norwegian director Anne Sewitsky (who won top World Dramatic Narrative prize in Sundance for 2010’s Happy, Happy) tackles her highest profile project yet with Queen of Ice, a biopic on the famous yet controversial 1930s figure skater Sonja Henie.

Continue reading...
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The King of Devil's Island will have a Short Reign in this Trailer from Marius Holst

Bastoy Prison is an actual correctional facility in Norway and now the island is the setting for an upcoming thriller. In Marius Holst's film, King of Devil's Island, the year is 1915 and over a hundred youths are housed at this remote location. Not liking the conditions much, the young men lead an uprising and take over the island. Stellan Skarsgard and Benjamin Helstad star; this film will release in 2011 and a trailer is below, which was released on some film sites earlier this month (Twitch Films).

The plot line of the film:

"Based on a true story: Norwegian winter, early 20th century. On the island Bastoy, located in the Oslo fjord live a group of delinquent, young boys aged 11 to 18. The boys daily, sadistic regime is run by the guards and the principal who bestow both mental and physical abuse on them. Instead of the boys being straightened
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