Zentropa's sales outfit Trust Film Sales has picked up international sales rights to the most popular Norwegian film in recent history, Peter Naess' comedy Elling. Produced by new outfit Maipo TV & Film and producer Dag Alveberg, the $1.6m (NKR15m) film has been distributed by United International Pictures' local branch, and will be handled by Universal in the Nordic region. The film set new box-office records in Norway with 700,000 admissions, and managed to stay in the top spots of the chart ahead of even strong US competition since its release on Mar16.

Elling has been selected to screen at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, in the section for first-time directors, where Trust Film Sales will also present the Danish Dogme title Truly Human (Et Rigtigt Menneske) in competition. In Karlovy Vary Trust Film Sales screened another two Norwegian titles, Cabin Fever and Detector.

Elling, a feel-good comedy about the troubles of the middle-aged man, who has lived alone all his life, but is forced to deal with life in the big city, is scripted by Axel Hellstenius based on Ingvar Ambjoernsen's successful novel Brothers InThe Blood (Broedre I Blodet). The book has sold 150,000 copies in Norway and the stage-adaptation, also directed by Peter Naess, achieved 60,000 admissions in capital Oslo. Per Christian Ellefsen stars as the quirky title character, and has be nominated for a best actor award at the Norwegian film awards. The cast also includes Sven Nordin, Per Christensen and Jorgen Langhelle.

In Norway Elling has become the locomotive for a record-breaking year for local product, which has been behind the other Nordic markets for years. After five months of 2001, 1,3m locals have attended home grown product, twice the number of last year. The market share went up to 10%, marking the best year since 1990, and for once total grosses $7.5m (NKR70m) have exceeded the total production costs of the home-grown films, aided by the fact that the average budget has dropped from some $2.1m (NKR20m) to $1.5m (NKR13.7m) last year.

Together with this years' other box-office hit, Cool And Crazy, Elling has taken 80% of the total admissions. Cool And Crazy passed 500,000 admissions domestically, and has been sold by NonStop Sales to 14 territories including Japan, UK, Germany and the USA. Knut Erik Jensen's musical documentary will screen at the Karlovy Vary, Montreal, Toronto, Warszaw and Pusan festivals.