Håp (Hope) has international impact

Hope - Håp

Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB scanpix
Håp is based on writer and director Maria Sødahl’s personal story of when she was given three months to live after a cancer diagnosis.

Translated by Andy Meyer

Maria Sødahl’s critically acclaimed film, Håp (Hope) had a strong impact at the Berlin International Film Festival this past winter. The showing in the festival’s Panorama section was the film’s European premiere, following its world premiere in Toronto in September.

Sødahl’s autobiographical drama, with Andrea Bræin Hovig and Stellan Skarsgård in the starring roles, was well received by both audiences and critics when it was shown in the Discovery section at Toronto, North America’s most important film festival. It was also reviewed positively after its Norwegian premiere on Nov. 22, so it is clear the film has both national and international appeal. It is rare that films get the honor of being shown at several A-list festivals, such as Toronto and Berlin.

A chance for an audience award

The Panorama section in Berlin features films from all over the world that challenge the audience and tell stories in new ways. The section has its own audience award.

The Berlin International Film Festival took place Feb. 20 to March 1, 2020.

A film of high quality

Norway received a lot of attention as a focus-country on the market during the Berlin festival in 2019. “We are very happy to be able to follow up in 2020 with such a raw and powerful film as Maria Sødahl’s Håp. It is a film of high quality that has already made its mark internationally, and we are certain that it will also have an impact on the experienced Berlinale audience,” said Kjersti Mo, director of the Norwegian Film Institute.

About Håp

Håp, Sødahl’s second film, arrived nearly 10 years after her debut film, Limbo. Among the reasons for the long hiatus was the director’s battle with cancer—a sickness that also contributed to the autobiographical elements in the film.

Sødahl both wrote and directed the film, which is about what happens to love when a woman halfway through her life is told she has three more months to live. Anja lives with her partner, Tomas, in a large family with children and stepchildren. On “Little Christmas Eve” (Dec. 23), she is given a terminal diagnosis. Alone with her sorrow and fear, Anja realizes the necessity of Tomas’ total help and support. Throughout the week of Christmas, the couple is thrown into a crash course of mutual trust and shared struggle to tackle an unexpected and early death. Can they, through this crisis, learn to love each other again after a long life together?

Håp was produced by Thomas Robsahm for Motlys, with developmental and production contributions of NOK 11.5 million from the Norwegian Film Institute.

Distribution in Norway and internationally

The film has been seen by nearly 40,000 viewers since its premiere in November and enjoyed a long run in theaters in Norway. The Norwegian distributor is SF Studios, while the film is sold internationally by TrustNordisk. Scandophiles are waiting for its premiere in North America.

This article originally appeared in the May 22, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.