Think Scandinavian cinema and you inevitably think Sweden and Denmark— until recently, few Norwegian films made any impact abroad. The lively “Norwave” movement that has emerged in the last few years is the subject of this series, largely composed of New York premieres. It’s clearly a movement concerned with youth— the protagonists of nearly all the finest works on view are children or adolescents. Schpaaa (the title is Norwegian street slang for “cool”), Erik Poppe’s gritty and moving debut feature, depicts the world of Oslo street kids involved in petty crime and drug dealing. Berit Nesheim’s The Other Side of Sunday is a Bergmanian coming-of-age tale, set in the late 1950s, about the teenage daughter of an oppressive and puritanical country vicar who finds the courage to strike out on her own. And Torun Lian’s debut feature Only Clouds Move the Stars, based on her own novel, deals with the familiar Scandinavian topic of melancholia and stars extraordinary newcomer Thea Rusten as an 11-year-old devastated by the death of her brother.
A series sidebar includes two classics: Gjest Bardsen (1939), based on a folktale about a dashing robber and directed by Tancred Ibsen, grandson of Henrik; and Death Is a Caress (1949), the striking debut film of the country’s first female director, Edith Carlmar. Caress, dramatically lit in handsome black-and-white, is a noirish drama whose garage-mechanic hero becomes the lover of a voracious socialite gorgon. Its B-movie zip is heightened by half a dozen imaginative montage
sequences. Carlmar followed it with a slew of comedies and mystery dramas. Now 86, this talented phenomenon is still active, writing scripts and acting in Norwegian TV. She’ll be on hand to introduce her film.