Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize Sofie Grabol, ‘Estonia,’ ‘Power Play’  



Big-budget disaster series “Estonia,” Canneseries winner “Power Play” and “Painkiller,” the TV drama debut of Göteborg victor Gabriela Pilcher (“Amateur”) feature in the five contenders for next year’s Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize which serves to underscore the robust breadth of current Nordic scripted series.

Also in the running is “Prisoner,” a second admired Cannes series main competition contender featuring “The Killing” star Sofie Gråbøl, and “Descendants,” the showrunning debut of famed Icelandic thesp Tinna Hrafnsdóttir. 

Backed by the Göteborg Film Festival and Nordisk Film & TV Fond, the 8th edition of the Prize, awarded to series’ main writers, pits Beta Film, the sales agent on Estonia and owner of its producer, “Bordertown’s” Fisher King, against Fremantle, owner of “Power Play” producer Motlys/Novemberfilm and 

Red Arrow Studios International, the sales agent on “Descendants.” REinvent International Sales handles sales on “Painkiller” and “Power Play.”

The Nordic drama series screenwriting award carries a cash prize of €20,000 ($21,600). A winner will be announced at an award ceremony on the evening of Jan. 30 at the Göteborg Film Festival’s TV Drama Vision

“In the current, tough times for the drama series industry, we need to celebrate the excellence of writing more than ever. The five nominated series help us understand troubled families and our troubled societies through unique and renewing storytelling,” said Liselott Forsman, CEO of the Nordisk Film & TV Fond. 

“The selection truly highlights the diverse excellence of Nordic drama and creative talent within the region and gives hope for the future of Nordic storytelling,” added Cia Edström, head of TV Drama Vision.

Brief details of the nominated series:

Estonia,” (Finland, eight 45-minute episodes)
Nominated writer: Miikko Oikkonen. Broadcasters: MTV, TV4.
Produced by: Fisher King. Producer: Tarja Ahava. Directors: Måns Månsson, Juuso Syrjä. International sales: Beta Film

Created and written by “Bordertown” creator Oikkonen, reteaming with its producers, the Beta-owned Fisher King, and Finnish commercials helmer Juuso Syrjä, a director on Bordertown. Also on board “Chernobyl” second unit director, Swedish arthouse auteur  Månsson, and its  J.P. Passi, its DOP. The inside story of Europe’s deadliest maritime disaster as ferry MS Estonia sunk on Sept. 28, 1994, which killed over 850 people, intertwining with an over three-year investigation. Budgeted at three times Finland and an instance of the ambition that Beta Film head Jan Mojto sees as one way forward for European drama.  


“Descendants,” (“Heima er best,”Iceland, six-part 45 minute episodes)
Nominated writer: Tinna Hrafnsdóttir.
Co-writers: Guðný Guðjónsdóttir, Tinna Hrafnsdóttir, Kidda Rokk. Broadcaster: Síminn. Produced by: Polarama, Freyja Filmworks and Projects. Co-producer: Lunanime. Producers: Guðný Guðjónsdóttir, Tinna Hrafnsdóttir, Kidda Rokk. Director: Tinna Hrafnsdóttir. Nordic sales: Tengsl. Benelux sales: Lumiere. Sales, rest of the world: Red Arrow Studios International.
Heading Red Arrow’s Mipcom slate, the debut as showrunner, and head-writer of reputed Hrafnsdóttir (“The Valhalla Murders,” “Margrete-Queen of the North”). Three siblings, one played by Hrafnsdóttir, inherit a whale-watching business and exquisite summerhouse and are soon at one another throats for larger part of the legacy. “My drive as a storyteller is to dive into the core of who we are, the bonds that shape us the most, the complications that blood or family relations can cause,” Hrafnsdóttir told the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Newsletter


“Painkiller,” (Sweden, six half-hour episodes)
Nominated writers: Johan Lundborg and Gabriela Pichler.Broadcaster: SVT. Produced by: Garagefilm International. Producer: Anna-Maria Kantarius. Director: Gabriela Pichler. Nordic & international sales: REinvent International Sales. Premiere: January 26, 2024 (SVT Play), January 29, 2024 (SVT).

The awaited drama series directorial debut of Gabriela Pichler whose sophomore feature, “Amateurs” opened and won best Nordic film at 2018’s Göteborg Film Festival. Repeating that film’s mix of social commentary, humor, non-pros and a telling depiction of working class immigrants’ life and the changing multicultural face of Sweden, “Painkiller” turns on retired cleaner Diljana, from the Balkans, who suffers chronic pain. Artist daughter Andrea determines to make her the central figure of her new art project, but Diljana commanders the project. Garagefilm, behind Amateurs and Pilcher’s debut, Eat, Sleep, Die which won the Audience Award from Venice’s Critics Week, has produced.   

Credit: Anders Nicander

“Power Play,” (“Makta,” Norway)

Nominated writer: Johan Fasting; co-writers: Silje Storstein, Kristin Grue. Broadcaster: NRK. Produced by: Motlys, Novemberfilm. Producers: Camilla Brusdal, Vilje Kathrine Hagen. Director: Yngvild Sve Flikke. Nordic sales: NRK. International sales: REinvent International Sales.

Best series winner at April’s Canneseries, a scathing, scabrous satire of power among doltish male politicians – “a field of turnips,” as they’re described – at the top of Norway’s Labour Party in 1974 which explain the unlikely rise of Gro Harlem Brundtland to become Norway and Scandinavia’s first woman prime minister. Events are remembered in mock-doc talking head current-day interviews with events’ protagonists. Produced by Fremantle-owned Motlys/Novemberfilm, reuniting the “Ninjababy” team of showrunner and head writer Johan Fasting and lead director Yngvild Sve Flikke.

Prisoner,” (“Huset,” Denmark, 6 x 59 minutes)
Nominated writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson. Broadcaster: DR.  Produced by: DR Drama. Producer: Rikke Tørholm Kofoed.
Directors: Frederik Louis Hviid, Michael Noer .Nordic & international sales: DR Sales.

Another Canneseries contender and Prix Italia winner, ramping up robust sales to the BBC (U.K. and Ireland), Canal+ Group’s channel Polar+ (France), MHz Choice (U.S.) and SBS (Australia), “authentic, complex and compelling portrait of the harsh realities of life in prison, where it isn’t only the inmates who are trapped,” said the BBC’s Sue Deeks. Created by Fupz Aakeson (“Accused”), and featuring a superb key cast led by the ever compelling “The Killing” star Sofie Grabol and a meticulously realistic take on prison, down to how prison guards handle their keys, Aekenson noted.



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