Norway’s state-subsidized film industry players have to travel home from Hollywood without Oscars this week: The highly acclaimed Norwegian film Verdens verste menneske (The Worst Person in the World) lost out at Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony but won attention during the run-up.
The film was nominated for both the Best International Film award and for Best Original Screenplay, marking the first time ever that a Norwegian film won two nominations. The Norwegian Film Institute (NFI) marked the occasion by renting a fancy house in the Hollywood Hills last week and spending a few hundred-thousand Norwegian kroner to promote and seek investment for Norwegian filmmaking.
“That’s how you do business here,” American film producer Tai Duncan told news bureau NTB during a Hollywood-syle reception at the luxurious villa called “Stanley House” but perhaps better known as the “Hollywood Rockstar House.” NFI used it not only to promote Norway’s Oscar candidate, its actors and crew and future film projects but also for meetings with film investors and media.
Not just ‘rolling around in luxury’
Norway’s government minister in charge of culture, Anette Trettebergstuen of the Labour Party, was among Norwegian officials on hand to promote Norway’s small but creative and successful film branch. She also joined in hailing Norwegian actress and film director Liv Ullmann, who was among three film luminaries winning “Honorary Awards” from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year. Ullmann was a guest of honour at a special reception at the house last week, just before being presented her Oscar statuette on Friday evening.
“We’re not doing this because we think it’s fun to roll around in luxury,” NFI Director Kjersti Mo told NTB. “This is work that we hope will pay off for the Norwegian film branch.” Duncan could offer Mo some support: “I think it will generate dividends, because what you’re really doing is supporting an industry in your country.”
NFI’s total budget for the Oscars was set at just under NOK 1 million (USD 120,000), with NTB reporting that NFI provided around half of that in addition to direct funding from the foreign ministry, Norwegian employers organization Virke and the Tromsø International Film Festival. Norwegian film producers could use the house in the Hollywood Hills to present projects to US film industry players like Duncan
The cast and crew behind Norway’s Oscar candidate this year, meanwhile, claimed they felt like they’d already won just by being nominated for two Oscars. Director Joachim Trier has noted repeatedly that winning a coveted nomination “is a victory in itself,” while the film’s star Renate Reinsve (who won the best actress prize at last year’s Cannes International Film Festival) was thinking about her 84-year-old mother back home in Norway. “I know that many people are staying up to 5 o’clock in the morning (on Monday, Norwegian time) to watch this,” Trier told NTB.
Both Reinsve, Trier and his fellow screenwriter Eskil Vogt were among those literally getting red carpet treatment as they walked into the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood Sunday night for the annual Oscar ceremony. They had to walk out empty-handed, after the Oscar for Best International Film went to the Japanese film Drive My Car and the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay went to Belfast. They knew, though, that they were up against extremely tough competition and were enjoying the experience no matter what the outcome would be.
“It’s quite surrealistic, unreal and fantastic to be here now,” Trier told news bureau AP. Vogt agreed: “I’m just thinking that if I die in a plane crash in 20 years, it will be headlined ‘Oscar-nominated screenwriter dies in plane crash,’ so this will last even if we don’t win.”