Norsk filminstitutt

Following his death in 1922, Norwegian painter Aksel Waldemar Johannessen was praised by both critics and Edvard Munch, but today he is largely forgotten. In this eye-opening film, director Nils Gaup documents art collector Haakon Mehren’s decades-long struggle to give Johannessen the recognition he deserves. The film provides a fascinating glimpse into the life and work of a unique painter. It also tries to get to the bottom of a simple question: Who decides whether an artist is remembered as a genius or a footnote?  

Production and distribution

Production Year:
Production country:
Release date (national):
Production company:
Paranord Film
Financing company:
Norwegian Film Institute
Nordnorsk Filmsenter AS
Filmfond Nord
Linn Henriksen
Film consultant:
Helle Hansen
Ingrid Dokka
Gjermund Gisvold


  • Nils Gaup

    Nils Gaup (b. 1955) was educated at The Norwegian Theatre Academy (since 1996 a division of the Oslo National Academy of the Arts), graduating as an actor in 1978. He then started his career working as an actor at various theaters, and in 1981 was one of the founders of the succesful Beaivváš Sámi Teahter, the only theater performing in the sámi language of the indigenous Sámi people of Northern Norway, of which Gaup himself is a native.

    Besides his work in theater, Gaup also had some film roles, and wrote stage- and screenplays. One of these was also to become his debut as a film director, and after writing and preparing the film for several years Pathfinder (a.k.a. Ofelaš) premiered in 1987. The original screenplay by Gaup was inspired by legends and traditional tales of the Sámi people told to Gaup while he was just a boy, and the film was the first sámi-language film ever produced. The film received praise and acclaim from a unison core of critics, and became one of Norwegian cinema's greatest box-office successes, in addition to winning several awards - including the Norwegian National Film Award Amanda for Best Film - and being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988.

    Since then Gaup has had a steady output in both film and television. His second film, the action-adventure pirate-movie Shipwrecked (1990), was co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures, and was shot in both Norwegian and English language, for world-wide release. Again a hit for Gaup, he next turned his attention to a more low-key project: After famously having turned down offers to direct American films such as RoboCop and Not Without My Daughter, he premiered the comedy-thriller Head Above Water in 1993, which garnered Gaup his second Amanda-award for Best Film. The film was later remade in the U.S., starring Harvey Keitel and Cameron Diaz. Gaup's other films include the French-American co-production North Star (1996), the critically acclaimed drama Misery Harbour (1999), the television series' Nini (1998) and Deadline Torp (also made as a TV-movie, 2005). In 2008 Gaup went back to his roots, so to speak, premiering the epic drama The Kautokeino Rebellion, based on actual events that took place in his hometown of Kautokeino in Norways northernmost county of Finnmark - events which have later had both great symbolic value, as well as caused controv

    Nils Gaup


BIFF - Bergen International Film Festival
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
Nordic Film Days Lübeck


Nils Gaup
Andreas Ausland
Martin J. Edelsteen
Tommy Allmenning
Cato Lauvli
Svein Olav Sandem
Mik Stampe Fogh
Kjetil Bjerkestrand
Sound Design:
Håkon Lammetun

Technical information

DCP 2k
Length in min's: