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FUNDING Norway

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Munch in Hell among documentary titles funded by the Norwegian Film Institute

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- Writer-director Stig Andersen is preparing a film disclosing that “Norway was too small for the genius of Munch”

Munch in Hell among documentary titles funded by the Norwegian Film Institute
Munch in Hell: Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch

Forty-one years after British director Peter Watkins showed his biopic of Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944) at the Cannes International Film Festival, Norwegian writer-director Stig Andersen is preparing to shoot Munch in Hell, “a documentary that discloses that Norway was too small for the genius of Munch”.

Originally shot in 1974 as a three-hour mini-series for Norwegian and Swedish pubcasters NRK and SVT, Watkins’ docu-drama biography was released theatrically in the USA and was subsequently presented at Cannes. It covered almost 30 years of Munch’s life, also depicting the hostile response his work often received in Norway, thanks to the fact that Watkins recruited Norwegians who genuinely disliked his paintings.

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Produced by Carsten Aanonsen for Indie Film, Munch in Hell is included in the package of five documentaries and eight shorts that the Norwegian Film Institute has backed with €1.3 million in production funding. Originally an art historian, Andersen has already directed 19 films, covering most genres, from documentaries and docu-soaps to film and TV fiction. In The Scream and Madonna (2008), for example, he investigated the robbery at Oslo’s Munch Museum in 2004, when two masked gunmen got away with two of his best-known paintings; they were eventually recovered two years later. In his new film, he shows how Munch was harassed in Norway for his paintings, ignored by colleagues and hounded by the IRS, while the international recognition of his art was growing.

Norway was evidently also too small for 25-year-old Waleed Ahmed, whom Norwegian director Emil Trier portrays in his documentary Trust Me, staged by Thomas Robsahm, Natalya Sarch and Nicolai Moland for Motlys. Ahmed was imprisoned in the US three years ago, sentenced to 11 years for international fraud. But he took Norway by storm, having been hailed as a gifted entrepreneur, named “Norway's Mark Zuckerberg” and invited to the royal castle with the Crown Prince’s influential friends. It is an unusual coming-of-age story revolving around the founder of Green Norway, who sold the rights for Nordic Justin Bieber concerts that he didn’t own – it was all one enormous hoax by a con artist. Trier himself has a directorial background in shorts, music videos and adverts.

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