Director Maren Klakegg from Westerdals Institute of Film and Media at Kristiania University College in Oslo, Norway, won this year’s International Documentary honour for her film Dear Father.
Each year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rewards the best student films with a Student Oscar. Out of 1,474 entries from American and international colleges and universities, the Academy choses the best student films in four categories: alternative (experimental film), animation, documentary, and narrative (fiction). Director Maren Klakegg from Westerdals Institute of Film and Media at Kristiania University College won this year’s International Documentary honour for her film Dear Father.
Klakegg joins an esteemed group of previous winners, among them Patricia Cardoso, Pete Docter, Cary Fukunaga, Spike Lee, Trey Parker, Patricia Riggen and Robert Zemeckis. The award ceremony will be held virtually on October 21.
Dear father tells the story of Beate, a woman sexually abused by her father throughout her childhood who later struggled with reclaiming control over her life. The film was produced by Simon Samdal, edited by Martine Argentina Gjeterud Hasvold, and Morten Fagelund did the sound.
“Each person has a story to tell, but sometimes you find a story that is also important for others to know,” says Maren Klakegg of her interest in making her documentary. “I knew Beate’s daughter and when she told me about her mother’s childhood, I felt a strong desire to tell Beate’s story. Also, I realized that many young people experience abuse at home, and it became very important to me to tell this story. Not only is the subject matter taboo, but Beate chose not to be a victim, and I think this is both inspiring and helpful for others in similar situations to see that there is hope for them.”
“We have received wonderful feedback from people who have seen the film,” continues Klakegg. “They were moved to tears and angry when watching the film, but still managed to smile by towards the end, which is important to me.”
Maren Klakegg’s Dear Father also won this year Amanda award (Norway’s Oscar) for best documentary. The film was shortlisted for BAFTA’s international student film competition and will receive the most prestigious of the student awards, the Oscar, on October 21st.
“It is insane!” she enthuses of the news of winning the award. “As far back as I can remember, I have stayed up all night in order to watch the Oscar ceremony live on television. So, to win an Oscar is unbelievable to me.”
She concludes: “That our film now receives so much international recognition is amazing, because it means that Beate’s story is relevant to people from other cultures as well.”
A second Student Oscar to Westerdals
Dear Father gives Westerdals Institute of Film and Media its second Student Academy Awards. In 2019, Rikke Gregersen’s graduation film The Ruthless won the Student award in the category Narrative International Film.
In addition to Dear Father, Kerren Lumer-Klabbers’ graduation film Papapa was among eight nominees in the Student Academy Awards category Narrative International Film.
“It’s unbelievable”, says the film’s director, a graduate from Lillehammer’s Norwegian Film School. “Since the Student Oscar’s finalists were announcement, people have contacted us from all over the world. It’s a dream come true.”
Kerren Lumer-Klabbers’ 22-minute fiction film stars Danish actor Thure Lindhardt (The Bridge, The Last Kingdom) and Anna Filippa Hjarne. Set in the near future, the film follows Elin as she is raised by two mothers and without any contact with her biological father. After her 18th birthday, Elin is given the opportunity to meet him, thanks to a F.A.R clinic that facilitate encounters between donor-fathers and children.
Over the years, many other students from Norwegian Film School have received Student Academy Awards nominations. In 2011, Hallvar Witzø’s Tuba Atlantic even won the award for his graduation film from Norway’s national film school.