Norwegian directors Anne Sewitsky’s Sonja – The White Swan and Anders Emblem’s Hurry Slowly have been selected for the American January festivals.

Ine Marie Willmann Photo by Jose Haro
Ine Marie Wilmann in Sonja – The White Swan. Photo: Jose Haro.

The American January film festivals in Park City, Utah – Sundance (24 January-3 February) and Slamdance (25-31 January) – have both selected Norwegian features for their main programmes: Anne Sewitsky’s Sonja – The White Swan and Anders Emblem’s Hurry Slowly.

Sonja – The White Swan

Norwegian director Anne Sewitsky’s third entry at Sundance, Sonja – The White Swan (Sonja), will have its international premiere in the Premieres section. In 2011 her Happy, Happy (Sykt lykkelig) won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Dramatic category.

Sewitsky’s Sonja – The White Swan is the true story of Sonja Henie, one of the world’s greatest athletes – the inventor of modern figure skating – who was a ten-time world, six-time European and three-time Olympic champion, before in 1936 she decided to to go to Hollywood to become a movie star.

She took the film world by storm – her first feature, US director Sidney Lanfield’s One in a Million, was nominated for an Oscar and broke box-office records by selling the most tickets in the world in 1937. Henie became one of the richest women of her time, always surrounded by fans, lovers and family – never alone. She starred in a string of box-office hits including Thin Ice, My Lucky Star and Sun Valley Serenade, and by 1939 she was one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. A serious drinking problem forced her to retire; she moved back to Norway with her third husband and died there of leukemia on 12 October, 1969, aged 57.

The Synnøve Hørsdal and Cornelia Boysen production for Oslo’s Maipo Film was scripted by Mette M. Bølstad and Andreas Markusson, and stars Norwegian award-winning actress Ine Marie Wilmann, with Pål Sverre Hagen, Valene Kane, Aidan McArdle and Malcolm Adams. Denmark’s TrustNordisk handles international sales.

Hurry Slowly

After winning for Best Narrative Feature at the Somerville International Film Festival (US) and screening at Norway’s Tromsø International Film Festival, Norwegian director Anders Emblem’s first feature Hurry Slowly (Skynd deg sakte), will unspool in competition at Slamdance.

Screening in Slamdance’s 25th anniversary competition of features ”with budgets of less than $1 million USD, and without US distribution,” Emblem’s Hurry Slowly is described as  “an episodic slice-of-life film about responsibility, safety and freedom,” following 24-year old Fiona (Amalie Iben Jensen) and her 18-year-old brother Tom (David Jakobsen), an autist whom she takes care of.

During some life-changing summer months at Sunnmøre, Fiona – while balancing her responsibility for her brother, her job at the local ferry and her interest in music - finds her reflections about her own future are becoming increasingly prominent, while the dynamics towards Tom change faster than she may think is comfortable. 

The film was produced by Emblem with Maria Kalvø.

Co-productions in programme

Three Norwegian co-productions – two features and a documentary – have also been picked up for the Sundance programme: German director David Wnendt’s The Sunlit Night, Danish director Mads Brügger’s Cold Case Hammarskjöld and Brazilian director Gabriel Mascaro’s Divine Love.