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‘Power Play,’ a ‘Punk’ Portrayal of Politics, Wins Writers 2024’s Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize

“Power Play” – a scathing, scabrous chronicle of Gro Harlem Brundtland unlikely climb to power as Norway and Scandinavia’s first woman prime minister – won the 2024 Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize for best drama series screenwriting at Sweden’s Göteborg Film Festival Tuesday night.

Awarded at the fest’s TV Drama Vision, the prize went to the satirical series’ main writers Johan Fasting, Silje Storstein and Kristin Grue. The Nordic drama series screenwriting award carries a cash prize of €20,000 ($21,600).

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With the NFTFP win, “Power Play,” like “Blackport” before it, completes a double of winning a top TV fest in Europe – it walked off with best series at Canneseries last year – and then the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize.

While Nordic Noir exposed human evil festering below Scandinavia’s acclaimed social democracy, “Power Play” underscores a more recent TV phenomenon of exposing the myth to that model and its decline via comedy and farce.

It joins a building satirical canon which includes “Blackport,” then huge NRK 2023 hit “Exit” and, indeed, SVT-Disney’s “Whiskey on the Rocks (SVT/Disney), pitched today at TV Drama Vision.

Shot in a high-paced part mock-doc style, punctuated with talking head current-day interviews with events’ protagonists, “Power Play” begins with Norway’s Labour Party, architects of its social democracy, in ruins, its doltish alcohol addled male politicians – “a field of turnips,” as they’re described – desperate to cling onto power, choosing Harlem Brundtland, a doctor who has entered politics as its minister of health. She proves the only competent power-broker in the party.

Produced by Fremantle-owned Motlys/Novemberfilm, reuniting the “Ninjababy” team of showrunner and head writer Fasting and lead director Yngvild Sve Flikke, “Power Play’s” international distribution is handled by REinvent International Sales.

‘Power Play’

Power Play
Power Play

“It was one of our main ideas: to make it punk. There is something that happens to period stories when every detail is painstakingly recreated. We didn’t want that,” Fasting told Variety.

“We wanted to go behind the scenes of social democracy as well, see how it has dissolved and turned into what we have today. It felt like the right time to look at the mechanisms of power,” added Flikke.

“Choosing a winner from a diverse array of such high-quality drama has been both a privilege and a pleasure for us, the jury. The nominees have been diverse: from politics to human despair, from love for a mother to a tragic disaster at sea, from families to co-workers to friends and enemies,” said this year’s jury of Vinca Wiedemann, a Danish editor, producer and screenwriter; Swedish actor Joel Spira, Kateryna Vyshnevska, a producer from the Ukraine; Charlotte Winberg, the Finnish journalist and critic.

“But the series that captured us the most was the one that managed to embrace seemingly dull historical facts with humour and playfulness, and that depicted an epoch of political history with all nuances of human idealism and flaws. ‘Power Play’ stayed loyal to its essence of truth, lie and poor memory!” they added.

Recent Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize winners are Norway’s Kenneth Karlstad for the series “Kids in Crime” (2023), a coming of age drama with a notable turn by Scandi superstar Jakob Oftebro (“Kon Tiki,” “Black Crab”); Iceland’s Gísli Örn Gardarsson, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson and Mikael Torfason for “Blackport” (2022), a family saga sluiced by period tragic farce taking a deep-dive into Iceland over 1983-91; and Denmark’s Maja Jul Larsen for procedural family drama “Cry Wolf” (2021).

“Power Play” is Norway’s fourth win in the Nordisk Film & TV Prize’s eight editions, also taking in Sara Johnsen’s “22 July” (2020), a meticulous reconstruction of the build-up to the terrorist attacks and their aftermath of trauma and Norway’s Mette. M. Bølstad and Stephen Uhlander win for political drama “Nobel” (2017).

That stat may suggest how Norway has latterly emerged from the shadow of the TV storytelling prowess of Denmark and Sweden.

Annika Pham contributed to this article.

‘Power Play’

Power Play
Power Play

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