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HAUGESUND 2021 New Nordic Films

Gyda Velvin Myklebust • Programme director, New Nordic Films, Haugesund

“This year, I felt we returned to focusing on an actual festival and a film market”

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- The programme director of New Nordic Films assesses the 2021 edition and discusses the current state of Nordic cinema

Gyda Velvin Myklebust • Programme director, New Nordic Films, Haugesund
(© Ingar Johansen)

With the timely re-opening of Norwegian society, the 49th edition of the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund successfully wrapped last Friday. Programme director Gyda Velvin Myklebust looks back on this edition, as well as forward to a high standard.

Cineuropa: Fresh out on the other side, what’s your assessment on the just-completed edition?
Gyda Velvin Myklebust: New Nordic Films 2021, our 27th edition, took place in a hybrid format with a 45/55 ratio of physical and digital participation. We did have a fully digital solution but managed to get 150 international industry representatives to Haugesund and to execute our three main objectives: to present completed films, works in progress and works in development to those they concerned. I felt our line-up was very strong, even remarkable at times — we also got very good reactions from potential partners and buyers. Those who were here in person clearly thrived on the physical presence. To be able to meet and exchange ideas and experiences actually gave a sense of euphoria at times; to finally sit in a cinema, to engage in a passionate discussion, to forge future plans through interaction. The pandemic has made us grateful for what we have, and even though digital markets are here to stay, there’s nothing like that wonder of getting together and connecting. 

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At least right now, the most uncertain times seem to be in check. What have you learnt from them in your work? Are there any emergency solutions that could be maintained in “healthy” times as well?
Well, last year I felt we arranged a “corona festival”; it certainly was what we spent most of our energy on. This year, I felt we returned to focusing on an actual festival and a film market with films and projects on centre stage. But what we realised with the digital presentations was that everyone had the exact same odds when it came to making a presentation, regardless of physical presence. We also saw increased participation from important industry representatives who would have had to travel long distances, or who would be tied up in other events of the season, but who could now partake digitally. A pretty impressive roster, which we would like to try to preserve. We just have to deal with the fact that the time when everyone went everywhere is over, and that it makes a lot of sense if one’s strategy is open to both solutions. So we will fine-tune the online facilities. That said, our main focus will be a physical market.

As someone concerned with promoting Nordic cinema, what is your take on the current situation?
I think the Nordic countries are very strong right now. Our young generations are making their mark nationally, regionally here up North, and internationally. We had a historical Cannes this year, with Finland’s Compartment No. 6 [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Juho Kuosmanen
film profile
]
and The Gravedigger’s Wife [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, with Norway’s The Worst Person in the World [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Joachim Trier
film profile
]
and The Innocents [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Eskil Vogt
film profile
]
, with Sweden’s Clara Sola [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Nathalie Álvarez Mesén
film profile
]
and Iceland’s Lamb [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Valdimar Jóhannsson
film profile
]
. It’s kind of interesting that the countries getting the most attention right now are the ones that used to be regarded as the “little sisters.” And there’s no doubt: Norway and Finland have conquered the most splendid of world arenas, while Iceland, with a population of 300,000, remains a true phenomenon all its own. Good national support systems, talent development, our embrace of our creators and cultivation of a path where unique visions can wander forth, those are the important tools when it comes to keeping up the high standard, now as well as in the future.

Speaking of the future: 2022 sees the 50th edition of the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund. Any grand plans in the making?
Grand plans are in the making as we speak. Diversity, inclusion and climate will be the foundations on which we will both mark the past half-century and look ahead. We will have many different arrangements and also some illustrious guests, quite probably including our Honorary President Liv Ullmann and our High Patron HRH Crown Prince Haakon.

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