Norwegian festival will open with Beatles; record number of works-in-progress; 350 delegates for New Nordic Films.

This year’s 42nd Norwegian International Film Festival Haugesund (Aug 16 – 22) will open with a film that is receiving plenty of local attention.

Danish director Peter Flinth’s Beatles is adapted from one of Norway’s most popular coming-of-age novels.

Scripted by Axel Hellstenius, it follows four Oslo boys in their adolescent and early adult years between 1965-1972.

“True friendship endures all, and no band in the world is better than The Beatles,” concludes the film which will have its world premiere in Haugesund and stars Halvor Tangen Schultz, Jonathan Chedeville, Louis Williams and Håvard Jackwitz.

“It was like climbing a mountain, starting with getting the rights to The Beatles’ music,” said Norwegian producer Jørgen Storm Rosenberg about his new film.

The opener is a fitting send off for festival director Gunnar Johan Løvvik, who will step down after having run the event since 1987.

“We start with Beatles in Norwegian Wood, and the line-up will confirm our role as ambassador of Nordic cinema,” he explained.

Four Nordic films will screen for the first time in Haugesund: the festival opener, Beatles; two Norwegian documentaries, Solveig Melkeraaen’s Good Girl (Flink Pike), Unni Straume’s; and Swedish director Leif Lindblom’s Raspherry Boar Refugee (Hallonbåtsflyktningen).

More than 350 local and international film professionals from 35 countries, including 60 buyers, have registered for New Nordic Films, the co-production and finance market between 19-21 August, which is closed to the public.

At least 17 new Nordic features (out of 21 titles) will unspool for the first time in the market programme in Haugesund, and a record number of 35 works-in-progress will be presented to potential co-producers and financiers.

The festival will showcase a typically impressive and varied programme beyond its Nordic offering.

Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Two Days, One Night (Deux Jours, Une Nuit), which won the Ecumenical Prize in Cannes, will close the international programme of the Nordic country’s largest showcase on Wednesday, 20 August, with Luc Dardenne attending.

In total Haugesund will receive 53 Nordic and international filmmakers, representing 48 entries in the programme –including Italian director Edoardo Winspeare and his actresses Celeste Casciaro and Laura Licchetta from their film Quiet Bliss (In Grazia di Dio).

The main selection comprises two Cannes winners, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep (Kis uykusu) and Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s The Wonders.

Also screening are Boyhood, by US director Richard Linklater, who was named Best Director at the Berlinale; and Sundance-awarded 20,000 Days on Earth, with Nick Cave, by UK directors Ian Forsythe-Jane Pollard.

The festival’s honorary president, Norwegian actress-director Liv Ulmann will be in Haugesund for different events and seminars, but without her first film as a director for 14 years, Miss Julie, which has been selected for competition in Toronto.

The festival opening will be preceded by the 30th Amanda awards – Norway’s national film prizes – which will be presented at a TV2 televised ceremony at the Haugesund Concert Hall on Saturday, 16 August.

Two films have been nominated for Best Film and in six other categories: Norwegian directors Erik Poppe’s A Thousand Times Good Night, starring French actress Juliette Binoche, and Eskil Vogt’s Blind, with Norwegian actress Ellen Dorrit Petersen in the lead.