Reporting on NORDICANA 2013

Written by Judith Sullivan

Not since the Vikings has the UK seen such an invasion. But this time around it is the explosion of Scandinavian sleuths from Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbø and Arne Dahl that seems to have conquered our minds on both the page and screens both small and large. SHOTS sent Judith Sullivan to Nordicana to discover what all the fuss is about.

Arne Dahl may have dolled our screens in the UK for the last time, and The Killing’s third series been its swansong. The UK’s fondness for all things Nordic was no passing wave, though. The UK is soon to see the opening of Stockholm-set thriller Easy Money. On the day of this writing, a major UK newspaper writes that ITV is among numerous bidders for Finnish producer Nice Entertainment Group. Citing a whopping £90m price tag for a company that makes programs throughout Scandinavia, the newspaper linked interest in its programming to the Noir from our friends up North.

A big old Clerkenwell London/Scandi love-in took place on a warm Saturday (fittingly doused with intermittent rain) last month. Dubbed Nordicana, the two-day event kicked off with everybody’s favourite fake prime minister Sidse Babett Knudsen aka Birgitte Nyborg. Knudsen put the cramped audience at ease almost at once displaying a fantastic sense of humour and great humility for one whose prime ministerial face is televised in 57 countries.

Knudsen really is a charming interviewee – witty and open but careful not to grant the twitterati of the UK any Season 3 of Borgen spoilers. There was even deference to the looming shadow of American programming when she quipped that on getting her casting call for the series, she thought she would be a “CJ Cregg (the longtime press secretary on the West Wing).”

Politics only made up a small portion of the offering during a show that centred on crime – that dark, dank, thoughtful, ominous crime that we relative southerners can never get enough of apparently. There were movies, commentaries, panels with the jewel in this Krone being an afternoon panel with a half dozen or so of the Arne Dahl super-cop actors and A D himself.

It was a boisterous affair and if these guys do not really have chemistry they are the best actors Sweden has ever produced.

For those who’ve not seen the show, the super cop team are the original motley crew – male and female, reserved and outgoing, tall and short, dark and pale, thoughtful and seat of the pants, . What made the show so great was the bonhomie and tension among the group members and this translated well into the London panel, who joked, laughed and told their collective and individual tales with charm. Dahl himself said he’d created such a large team “so he could kill one of them off….I never succeeded.” From the look of this lot and the professionalism combined with silliness, we can see why all the little Indians stayed part of the plot.

Our own Nordic queen Anne Cleeves gave a talk, too, as part of the event. Interrupted at times by odd noises (possibly from film showings in other rooms), her talk tied nicely into the event. She reminded the audience Shetland was part of Norway until the 14th century and remains connected still by “storms and stormy emotions.”

 

Anne with Judith Sullivan 

Despite the darkness and horror of her tales, Cleeves retains an appealing giddiness about the appeal of her books and the resultant television series. “To be paid to tell a story, that is miraculous,” she said.

The event was not just about stories and myths and fable. The theme continued throughout the multiple buildings and levels of the Farmiloe Building. For the tots too young for the horror on screen, there was the Nordicana Nippers day-care. Faroe sweaters were on offer, as were witty Keep Calm and Watch the Killing tee-shirts.

 

 

There was food and drink – and yes, things like vodka, salmon and liquorice. A nice tribute and feed-in to the Nordic craze. Due back next year, according to the website of Arrow Films, the eminence grise (or should that be noire maybe) behind the event.

 For more - http://nordicnoir.tv/news/

 

 

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Judith Sullivan



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