Oslo café turns into a film set

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A venerable Norwegian café in Oslo’s now-multi-cultural district of Tøyen was the scene of lights, camera and plenty of action over the weekend. It provided the location for an Irish director intent on capturing the city’s contemporary immigrant culture on film.

Director Yvonne McDevitt emerges from the film set inside the café, to line up the next shot, while her cast waits outside. PHOTO: Views and News

Yvonne McDevitt, who divides her time between Oslo, London and Dublin, has written and is directing what’s expected to be a 90-minute feature film that she hopes to submit to next year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Enchanted by the old-fashioned Nordby’s bakery and café at Tøyen, she decided that she wanted to use it as the scene for a film that draws out the stories of café customers who hail from Romania, Morocco and the US as well as Norway.

The director and her cameraman in action inside Nordby's Café in Oslo's Tøyen district. PHOTO: Views and News

The café itself, which has survived in its original wooden building while the neighbourhood around it has changed dramatically, brings all the characters together and serves as a remnant, perhaps, of a Norway that once was, but faces challenges in changing with the times.

Real-life café owner Ann-Christin Nordby volunteered use of the café, which has been run by her family for four generations. The cast and crew are mostly volunteering their efforts as well, since the film is low-budget and lacks major funding.

Danish actor Kim Bodnia on the set inside Nordby's Café in Oslo. PHOTO: Views and News

All of those working on the project, including Danish actor Kim Bodnia, who flew in from Copenhagen on Sunday to participate, have agreed to forego salaries in turn for receiving a cut of the profits when the film debuts.

Producer Edwina Forkin of Zanzibar Films in Dublin has high hopes for the film, called “Ann-Christin’s Oslo.” The filming in Oslo will be followed by editing and production work in Ireland, and then efforts to get it shown at international film festivals. Another one of McDevitt’s films has been submitted to the Sundance Festival in Utah, and Forkin says that’s the best route towards international distribution.

Funds have come in from various sponsors, with producing manager Nathalie Owe drumming up sources of finance as well. The Danish Embassy, for example, helped pay for Bodnia’s trip to Oslo, she says, and other supporters have provided meals and overnight accommodation for visiting actors and crew from Denmark, France, Germany, the UK and Ireland.

“We feel it will be an important film, involving modern-day issues,” Owe told View and News. “Everyone is working really hard on this. Yvonne really sees the multi-cultural aspects of Oslo, and like a painter or writer who gets an idea into their heads, she wants to get this on film.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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