Lusty Norwegian teens too much for US pastor

An Alabama pastor has succeeded in his attempts to block the planned screening of a coming-of-age Norwegian drama film due to what he perceived as its inappropriate content.

Lusty Norwegian teens too much for US pastor
Alma (Helene Bergsholm) prepares for a party in “Turn Me On, Dammit!”, a film by Jannicke Systad Jacobsen. (Photo: New Yorker Films)

Methodist pastor John Kearns contacted the Tuscaloosa Arts Council after seeing an advertisement for the movie Turn Me On, Dammit!, news site reports.

Affronted by the film’s apparent focus on the sexual awakening of a 15-year-old girl in a small Norwegian town, he asked organizers not to show a film he complained was "not in step with community standards".

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Arts Council said it had agreed to axe the screening of a film written and directed by Jannicke Systad Jacobsen.

"Due to the misunderstanding surrounding the theme and content of the film, the Arts Council and Bama Theatre have made the decision to cancel its screening, whether represented by the Council or outside entities. We hope this decision represents the wishes of all our constituents."

In what she described as a “dangerous precedent”, outgoing Arts Council board president Rebecca Rothman said Mayor Walt Maddox had personally contacted the council to ask it to rethink its plans to show the film, said.

"The Arts Council receives city and county funding. We are in the midst of a big fund-raising effort for the new cultural arts center. We were put in a very difficult position,” Rothman told the site.

Reacting to the decision not to show her film, Systad Jacobsen said it was “sad” that anyone would judge the film without actually having watched it.

“Had they done so, they would presumably have expressed themselves differently after seeing that it actually has a Christian conservative message about waiting,” Systad Jacobsen told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

“It's not our intention to offend anyone, and I don’t feel that the film is particularly offensive when compared to half-naked Rihanna album covers and the like,” she added.

Olaug Nilssen, the author of the book on which the film is based, described the situation as laughable.

“I have to smile when I hear this, but first and foremost I consider it regrettable that such a sweet and innocent film gets censored in the US, especially when the reason appears to be the threat of funding cuts,” he told NRK.

Turn Me On, Dammit! (Få meg på, for faen) has been very well received by US critics, with Systad Jacobsen winning a Best Screenplay Award at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.

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Better luck next year: Norway’s Oscar drought continues

Hopes that Norway would claim its first Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film were dashed when ‘Kongens nei’ (English title: The King’s Choice) was not among the nominees announced on Tuesday.

Better luck next year: Norway's Oscar drought continues
'Kongens Nei' got a 'nei' from the Oscar committee. Photo: Paradox Film
Director Erik Poppe’s film about King Haakon VII’s resistance to the Nazi invasion of Norway had survived the cut from 85 submissions to nine but was not among the five finalists revealed on Tuesday. 
Adding insult to injury, Norway's two Scandinavian neighbours Denmark and Sweden are among the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film with ‘Land of Mine' and ‘A Man Called Ove’, respectively. The other films that will vie for the award at the Oscars gala in Los Angeles next month are 'The Salesman' (Iran), 'Tanna' (Australia) and 'Toni Erdmann' (Germany).
‘Kongens nei’ was hoping to be just the sixth Norwegian nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film. The previous nominees were ‘Ni liv’ in 1957, ‘Veiviseren’ in 1987, ‘Søndagsengler’ in 1996, ‘Elling’ in 2001 and ‘Kon-Tiki’ in 2012. None of those managed to take home the Oscar, so there were high hopes that ‘Kongens nei’ could make Norwegian film history and end the country's Oscar drought. 
Instead, the best Norwegian film buffs can now hope for is that one of their neighbours claims the prize. The Danish entry ‘Land of Mine’ (Original title: Under Sanden) is about a group of German POWs who are made to clear Danish beaches of Nazi mines following the war. Swedish hopeful  'A Man Called Ove' (original title: En man som heter Ove) meanwhile tells the story of a Saab-driving curmudgeon who has his heart opened by a warm new neighbour.
The German entry ‘Toni Erdmann’ is also a clear favourite, with the comedy winning best film, director, actress, actor and screenwriter at the European Film Awards earlier this month. 
Some 720,000 Norwegians saw 'Kongens Nei' in theatres, making the war drama the biggest box office draw in what was the Norwegian film industry's best year in more than four decades