Oscar sailed by ‘Kon-Tiki,’ too

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The sun literally set on the Norwegian film industry’s dreams of bringing home an Oscar this year, but the ride to Hollywood was fun while it lasted. Members of the cast and crew of “Kon-Tiki,” plus the government minister in charge of culture, insisted they weren’t disappointed that the Austrian film “Amour” won instead.

The sun set on the Norwegian film industry's hopes for an Oscar this year, but the cast and crew of "Kon-Tiki" remained happy that the film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. PHOTO: Norwegian Film Institute

The sun set on the Norwegian film industry’s hopes for an Oscar this year, but the cast and crew of “Kon-Tiki” remained happy that the film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. PHOTO: Norwegian Film Institute

It was the second major prize to sail by Kon-Tiki, since the film also lost its chance at a Golden Globe award in January, but those involved continued to repeat that just being nominated for such high-profile international prizes was a victory in itself. Kon-Tiki was up against tough competition as Best Foreign Language Film at the annual Academy Awards ceremony.

“It went as expected,” actress Agnes Kittelsen, who played the wife of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl in the Kon-Tiki film, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) early Monday morning Norwegian time, when the ceremony was still going on. “We all thought Amour would win and it did. I’m still just as happy.”

Hadia Tajik, Norway’s culture minister who’d flown out to California for the Oscar celebration, claimed she was still happy, too. “There’s no doubt that Kon-Tiki has put Norwegian film on the international map,” Tajik told NRK. “The work (the cast and crew) have done has led to the film not just opening doors for all of them, but for Norwegian film, too.”

Norwegian films have been nominated before, most recently Tuba Atlantic as a short film last year and Elling in 2002, Søndagsengler in 1997, Veiviseren in 1988 and Ni liv in 1958. The original documentary about the legendary Kon-Tiki expedition led by Heyerdahl in 1974 actually won the Oscar in 1951, the only Academy Award ever brought home to Norway.

Norwegian film critics, who mostly gave last year’s feature film version rave reviews, weren’t surprised that Kon-Tiki failed to beat the Austrian drama Amour, which already had won the Golden Globe and several major film festival prizes during the past year. “But I think everyone involved with Kon-Tiki is satisfied they came as far as they did in connection with the Oscars,” said Birger Vestmo of NRK. “Having an Oscar nomination will lead to lots more attention around the film, and can help spur more productions.”

Petter Skavlan, who wrote the screenplay for Kon-Tiki and was among the six members of the film’s crew to actually attend the Academy Awards ceremony, told NRK it was “no great disappointment that Amour won.” He admitted there had been a lot of “hype” around Kon-Tiki but the cast and crew were still in high spirits and heading out for a round of parties in Hollywood during the night.

NRK reported Monday morning that the film’s release in the US has been delayed until April. It was due to open in US cinemas over the weekend, but NRK reported that The Weinstein Company, which bought the rights to the film, likely wanted more time for promotion and to get the most out of the Oscar nomination.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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