Norway selects “Thelma” for Foreign-Language Oscar nomination

News from the Norwegian Film Institute

A scene from "Thelma" depicting two young women lying in a bed.

Photo courtesy of
Thelma is Norway’s official selection for the Best Foreign-Language Feature Oscar nomination. The movie is a supernatural thriller about a young woman who, in the face of love, discovers that she has scary and unexplained powers.

Each year the Norwegian Oscar Committee selects a Norwegian film as the country’s Oscar nomination for the Best Foreign-Language Feature award. Last year’s selection, The King’s Choice (Kongens nei), made it to the shortlist, became number one on the Norwegian 2016 charts, and continued its winning spree in Haugesund. The film by Norwegian director Erik Poppe cashed in on eight of its record number of 13 nominations at the Amanda Awards Ceremony on August 19 preceding the opening of the 45th Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund.

On August 30, the committee announced that three Norwegian features—out of the 28 premiered in the 2016/2017 year—were being considered for Norway’s candidate: Izer Aliu’s Hunting Flies (Fluefangeren), Jorunn Myklebust Syversen’s The Tree Feller (Hoggeren), and Joachim Trier’s Thelma.

Hunting Flies (Fluefangeren)
The drama about the rise and fall of dictatorship takes place in a classroom, where the idealistic teacher Ghani loses his job on the first day of school. In an attempt to get it back, he locks his students up in the classroom, trying to force them to resolve a generation-long conflict between their villages.

Hunting Flies was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival 2016. It received the Amanda for Best Director and is Norway’s candidate for the Nordic Council Film Prize 2017.

The Tree Feller (Hoggeren)
In this film, 39-year-old Anders decides to give up his ordinary life in the city and move to a small farm with the only desire of being out in nature and losing himself in physical work. But his attempt to escape is constantly interrupted by pushy relatives. He soon realizes he has just traded in one claustrophobic existence for another.

The Tree Feller received two nominations for Amanda awards.

The supernatural thriller portrays Thelma, a young student in Oslo. When she is drawn to another woman, she is overwhelmed by emotions she does not dare acknowledge, and frightening and inexplicable powers are forcing themselves into the open.

Thelma opened this year’s Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund, where it received the Norwegian Critics Prize. It was also invited to the international film festivals in Toronto and New York. Three other Norwegian films joined Trier’s film in Toronto: Iram Haq’s What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si), Torill Kove’s Threads (Tråder), and Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen’s Valley of Shadows (Skyggenes dal).

The selection
On September 5, Trier’s Thelma was named Norway’s official submission for the Oscar nomination as the Best Foreign-Language Feature.

Thelma confirms that Trier is a unique and style-safe film artist of a broad and international format,” explained the Norwegian Oscar Committee. “Based on his special and character-exploring universe, the film has become an all-embraced, ambitious, and personal drama about a young woman’s awakening and detachment.

“Pronounced use of dramaturgical instruments, film-historical references, and architecture makes Thelma stand out as an impressive innovation in Norwegian cinema. Not least, the lead actress Eili Harboe promises to make a unique film vision,” the committee concluded its recommendation.

Thelma is a film that touches the viewer on several levels, both emotionally and intellectually; it is visually striking, modern in its expression, at the same time with clear references to film classics. With this film Trier, Vogt, and their regular group of assistants have delivered a story that will reach a wide audience and which we strongly believe in as our Oscar candidate,” added chairman of the committee, managing director Sindre Guldvog, of the Norwegian Film Institute.

The five Oscar nominations for Best Foreign-Language Feature will be announced on January 23, 2018, while the Academy Awards ceremony will take place on March 4, 2018. Previous Norwegian nominees for the prize include Joachim Rønning-Espen Sandberg’s Kon-Tiki (2012), Petter Næss’s Elling (2001), Berit Nesheim’s The Other Side of Sunday (Søndagsengler/1996), Nils Gaup’s Pathfinder (Veiviseren/Ofelas/1987), and Arne Skouen’s Nine Lives (Ni liv/1957).

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 22, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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