Norwegian actress-turned-director Iram Haq could hardly believe it when the jury of the Norwegian committee that decides on the country’s candidate for an Academy Award chose her film “Jeg er din” (I am yours) to be next year’s entry in the Oscar race. She was jubilant when the decision was announced on Monday.
“Right now I’m just celebrating that I’m an Oscar candidate,” Haq told newspaper Dagsavisen, whose cultural editor Mode Steinkjer leads the Norwegian Oscar committee. “I had never believed this could happen.”
Her film was only seen by a little over 10,000 people after it premiered in Norway last August, but it went on to be shown at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival and at Nordic Film Days in Lübeck. The jury claimed the film is based on “a universal story” and called it “a brave and exciting feature film debut.”
It tells the story of a young Pakistani-Norwegian single mother named Mina, living in Oslo with her six-year-old son Felix. She has a troubled relationship with her family and is constantly looking for love. Her relations to men don’t last very long until she mets a Swedish film director, and falls head-over-heels in love.
Steinkjer said that Haq has a “her own voice” and her film, which she directed and wrote the screenplay, has “the technical qualities needed for it to go far.” Her film beat out the short list of three films that the committee had pared down from 18, including the new Erik Skjoldbjærg oil drama Pioneer and the Arild Østin Omundsen film Eventyrland.
Norway’s candidate for this year’s Academy Award, Kon-Tiki, was actually nominated for an Oscar. Asked whether he thinks it’s possible for Norway to get two nominations, two years in a row, Steinkjer said “we can always hope. These are two totally different films. Kon-Tiki was a large commercial story with a Norwegian anchor. I am yours tells a story that’s little and universal. It’s an artistic film and we see that other foreign films that have won the Oscar are artistic, strong films.”
Iram Haq herself wouldn’t speculate on her chances and was simply enjoying the moment. On a personal note, she was born in 1976, educated at Westerdals School of Communication in Oslo and works as an actress, writer and director. The Norwegian Film Institute noted that she worked for many years on stage and in feature and TV films and also wrote and starred in the short film Old Faithful in 2004, which was selected to compete in the Venice Film Festival. Her directorial debut with the short film Little Miss Eyeflap in 2009 won The Ellen Award at Aspen Shortsfest in 2010.