‘Kon-Tiki’ wins Oscar nomination

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Last year’s Norwegian feature film about the expedition of famed explorer Thor Heyerdahl, Kon-Tiki, has won a much sought-after nomination for an Academy Award, also known as an “Oscar.” The film is now one of five candidates for the Academy’s Best Foreign Language Film.

The new film "Kon-Tiki" is full of drama, scenery and special effects, and critics in Norway think it will be an international hit. PHOTO: Carl Christian Raabe/Nordic Film/Filmweb

The new feature film version of the “Kon-Tiki” expedition is an epic film that now has won an Academy Award nomination. PHOTO: Carl Christian Raabe/Nordic Film/Filmweb

Heyerdahl’s own documentary about his epic voyage won an Academy Award in 1951, one of only two Norwegian films to ever do so. The new version about Heyerdahl, who died in 2002, is up against tough competition including the highly acclaimed film Amour from Austria, A Royal Affair from Denmark, No from Chile and War Witch from Canada.

Kon-Tiki producer Aage Aaberge told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he initially was at a loss for words as champagne bottles popped around him at Filmenshus in downtown Oslo after the nominations were announced. He quickly recovered, though, and claimed that “just being nominated is a victory in itself.”

Joachim Rønning, who directed the film along with Espen Sandberg, agreed and admitted he hadn’t had the nerve to see any of the films Kon-Tiki is up against. “But I’ll begin to see them (because) we have won already now,” he told NRK on the phone from Los Angeles. “This (the nomination alone) is a victory for us.”

The film's version of the "Kon-Tiki" crew, including Pål Sverre Hagen (second from left) who plays Thor Heyerdahl, and Anders Baasmo Christiansen (far left) who plays the disputed character of Herman Watzinger. While Hagen resembles Heyerdahl, Christiansen admits that he doesn't look anything like Watzinger did. All the original crew members are now deceased. PHOTO: Filmweb

Actors making up the film version of the “Kon-Tiki” crew include Pål Sverre Hagen (second from left) who plays Thor Heyerdahl, and Anders Baasmo Christiansen (far left) who plays the disputed character of Herman Watzinger. Others include (from right) Jakob Oftebro, Odd-Magnus Williamson, Tobias Santelmann and Gustaf Skarsgård. PHOTO: Filmweb

He called the nomination “fantastic recognition” for himself and Sandberg, and “fantastic for the film, which will now go out into the world.” It will premiere in the US in mid-February, just before the Academy Awards ceremony on February 24.

Hadia Tajik, Norway’s government minister for cultural affairs, was thrilled by the nomination and immediately offered her “warm congratulations” to everyone involved with the film. She called the nomination “a great honor for Kon-Tiki and a great joy for all of us other Norwegians who have enjoyed this film.” She also noted that the Oscar publicity will mean that many other people around the world will be able to see the film, and told NRK that “maybe they’ll become curious about other films produced in Norway. It will, at any rate, be very exciting to follow this and see how it goes in February.”

Kon-Tiki is the most expensive film ever made in Norway, won rave reviews from Norwegian critics and has drawn the biggest box office crowds as well, ending up as the “most-seen” film in Norwegian cinemas last year. It also won a Golden Globe nomination and is among the candidates for Best Foreign Language Film at that film awards event in Hollywood this weekend.

It has also sparked controversy, though, with the family of one of Heyerdahl’s crew members on board the actual Kon-Tiki complaining that the directors took too much artistic license and gave a false and damaging portrayal of him.

Only six other Norwegian films have ever been nominated for an Oscar: The original Kon-Tiki documentary and the animated short film Den danske dikteren, which both won, plus Ni Liv in 1957, Veiviseren in 1988, Søndagsengler in 1996 and Elling in 2001.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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