Lena Endre receives Haugesund’s honorary award.

Norwegian director Sara Johnsen’s Upperdog cashed in on five of eight nominations for the Amanda – Norway’s national film prize – when the awards ceremony launched the 38th Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund on Friday (Aug 20).

The winner of this year’s Nordic Film Festival in Rouen, the film took the prizes for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing. Johnsen’s feature debut, Kissed by Winter (Vinterkyss), left Haugesund with two Amandas in 2005.

At the TV2-televised Amanda programme in Haugesund’s Concert Hall-Festiviteten, Åsleik Engmark’s Twigson (Knerten) received the kudo in the new category, Best Children’s Film (12+), adding Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects.

Norwegian culture minister Anniken Huitfeldt spoke at the official festival opening, where Swedish actress Lena Endre – about to end her two years’ leave from Sweden’s Royal Theatre, Dramaten after performing in 16 Wallander and Millennium films – received the festival and Liv Ullmann’s Honorary Award.

Endre plays in Norwegian director Maria Sødahl’s feature debut, Limbo, which had its world première opening the main programme; another Norwegian world’s first, Stefan Faldbakken’s Varg Veum-The Writing on the Wall (Varg Veum-Skriften på veggen), will close the event on Aug 25.

In festival director Gunnar Johan Løvvik and programme director Håkon Skogrand’s catalogue of about 100 selections for the 38th edition of the Norwegian showcase, Europe, the Nordic countries and women are in focus – a fourth of the entries in the international section are directed by female filmmakers.

Screenings include both this year’s Berlin and Cannes winners, Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu’s Honey (Bal) and Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. New British-Irish Cinema and Focus on the Nordic Countries are new among the festival sidebars.

Visitors include Irish actor Stephen Rea with Urszula Antoniak’s Nothing Personal; UK director Edgar Wright and Canadian actor Michael Cera with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and UK actor Brian Cox, for the world première of UK director Robert Young’s Wide Blue Yonder.