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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
 

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UTØYA

Utøya film makes shortlist for Norway’s Oscar entry

U – July 22, this year’s film about Anders Breivik’s 2011 massacre, is one of three contenders to be put forward for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Utøya film makes shortlist for Norway's Oscar entry
A still from the film U – July 22. Photo: U – July 22
The Norwegian Oscar Committee on Wednesday announced a shortlist of three films, ahead of picking its final candidate next Tuesday. 
 
U – July 22, directed by Erik Poppe, is vying against What Will People Say, by the Norwegian-Pakistani director Iram Haq, and Blind Spot, a film directed by the Swedish-Czech actress Tuva Novotny. 
 
In its announcement, the committee said that Poppe's film had brought the tragedy to life. 
 
“A large number of facts from AUF’s summer camp on July 22 2011 have already been published,” it said. “But few of us know a lot about the unimaginable panic and confusion that occurred or the impossible choices the victims were faced with.” 
 
But the film faces stiff competition from What Will People Say, with Haq’s previous film I Am Yours put forward as Norway’s entry in 2013. 
 
Her new film follows a Norwegian-Pakistani girl precariously balancing her life as a normal teenager with a traditional Pakistani family existence at home. When her father catches her in bed with her Norwegian boyfriend, he has her kidnapped and sent home to Pakistan, where she discovers her parents’ culture in a new way. 
 
Finally, Blind Spot is the directoral debut for Novotny, who played Mariana Simionescu, the Wimbledon tennis champion who married Björn Borg, in the film Borg vs McEnroe.  The film is a story about the grey zones in mental illness. 
 
From October 1, the  Foreign Language Committee at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), will begin assessing countries' submissions, reducing them to a shortlist of six. Three other films will then be added by an executive committee. 
 
Two further committees, one of the US East Coast and one on the US West Coast, will then select the five best to be nominated for the Oscar. 
 
The nominations will be announced on Tuesday 22 January, and the 2019 winner will be announced on Sunday, February 24.