Swedish dramatic comedy The New Country bagged two major awards -- best film and best screenplay -- at the closing ceremony of the New Nordic Films, the prelude event to the Norwegian International Film Festival. The 29th edition rolls today until Sept. 1 in Haugesund.

Swedish-Norwegian newcomer Geir Hansteen Joergensen originally directed The New Country as a four-hour TV-series for Swedish TV but producer Christer Nilson of Gota Film also had the director cut a feature version for theatrical release and the international market. Nordisk Film International Sales handle sales of both versions.

Peter Birro and Swedish hero Lukas Moodysson's winning screenplay for The New Country tells the story of two immigrants, who escape from a refugee camp in southern Sweden, and hook up with an ex-Miss Sweden on their way through the country. The film was shot on DV.

The Jury, including Danish director Morten Arnfred, Norwegian actress Anneke von der Lippe and Swedish film critic Gunnar Rehlin, had 14 new Nordic features to choose from, including popular films like Italian For Beginners and Jalla! Jalla! as well as the Norwegian hit Elling, which secured the best actor award for Per Christian Ellefsen. Young Swedish actress Sara Sommerfeld won best actress for her part in Wings Of Glass.

The fact that Petter Naess' charmer Elling only received the actor award came no doubt as a surprise to the non-Norwegian guests at the festival, as it was the most widely appreciated and buzzed title in the programme. Sold through Trust Film Sales, Elling makes its international premiere in Toronto next month.

Local musician and first-time actor Herborg Kraakevik took the best newcomer award for The Greatest Thing while the Norwegian cinema-owners' prize when jointly to local hit Cool And Crazy and Billy Elliot, distributed by Europafilm and UIP respectively.