More than crime: the new wave of Nordic TV

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Turkey (Finland) (AFP)

For more than a decade, Nordic crime series such as “The Bridge” and “Wallander” have captivated international viewers with tales of brooding sleuths, elaborate murders and gloomy Scandinavian landscapes.

But now the so-called black Nordic’s success has sparked overseas interest in a new wave of far-northern European television productions, this time in genres ranging from period drama to horror in adolescents.

A highly anticipated release is the Swedish supernatural series “Cryptid” about unexplained events among a group of middle school students in the fictional small town of Morkstad.

Launched this month in the Nordic countries, the series has generated “strong interest” abroad, according to its international distributor Beta Film, with sales to date to German streaming services Joyn and French Salto.

The 10-part show also made the official selection at the Cannes TV Series Festival in southern France, which opens on Friday, where a record six of the 20 shortlisted series are scandi productions.

“The rise of streaming platforms has generated a demand for content that stands out and remains quite cheap, and this is true for Nordic content,” Pia Jensen, associate professor at the University, told AFP. Aarhus.

“Nordic series mostly have fairly high production values, which is essential if you want to sell in the international market. ”

The user-friendly half-hour episodes of “Cryptid” have a more dynamic feel than the slow storylines that often characterize Nordic shows.

The format – and colors – also set the series apart from other Swedish horror hits, like the 2008 vampire film “Let the Right One In”.

When AFP visited the filming of the film “Cryptid” in October last year, a small tree-lined lake near the city of Turku in southwestern Finland was transformed into the setting. sinister events that begin to terrorize the young people of the city.

“There is something lurking under the surface but you never know what,” director David Berron told AFP.

The series will have “a lot more color and flavor” than the grainy, gray realism of Scandinavian crime hits like “The Bridge” and “The Killing,” he added.

“In the Nordic noir it’s all very calm and low and melancholy, and this one still has that spirit, but we’ve added some spices,” Berron said.

– Black comic strip –

Branded “Nordic comic noir” by the show’s creators, the different feel comes in part from the creator of Cryptid, the famous French graphic novelist Sylvain Runberg, known for adapting Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy to the graphic novel format.

Runberg, who has divided his time between France and Sweden for the past decade, believes the Nordic drama’s success is due to the contrast between the comfortable veneer of Scandinavian society and its dark currents of crime, prejudice and d repressed aggression.

“It’s a society that everyone can relate to, not that different from what you experience in France, the United States or Great Britain,” Runberg told AFP.

But the stories are “often very brutal and violent, which is not at all what you experience on a daily basis in Scandinavia,” he said.

“It gives them a certain sensation, a resonance. ”

– New things to come –

International interest in Nordic non-criminal series has intensified in recent years.

Norwegian “Skam” (Shame), a 2015 web series that took a flawless look at the lives of a group of high school students, broke audience records in Scandinavia, before triggering remakes across Europe and United States.

“Ride Upon the Storm,” from the creator of Danish political drama “Borgen,” saw lead actor Lars Mikkelsen win an Emmy in 2018 for his portrayal of a priest at the center of a family drama.

“Borgen”, one of the Nordic countries’ first non-criminal international hits, was itself brought back into service for a fourth series to air in 2022.

And in the weeks to come, Norwegian viewers will be the first to see the opulent WWII drama “Atlantic Crossing”.

The eight-hour show has been sold across Europe and a US deal is being finalized, distributor Beta Film said.

The action is based on a true story and takes place largely in the United States, where Norwegian Crown Princess Martha, played by Sofia Helin from “The Bridge,” flees after the Nazis invade her country.

There, she forms an intimate friendship with President Franklin Roosevelt, played by “Twin Peaks” star Kyle MacLachlan.

While the new Nordic genres are gaining in popularity, this is not at the expense of scandi crime.

Netflix this year released “Young Wallander,” a new take on novelist Henning Mankell’s troubled sleuth.

And last year, the BBC acquired “The Investigation” from Denmark, based on the murder of journalist Kim Wall in 2017.

“There will be new things coming out of the Nordic countries,” Beta Film’s Justus Riesenkampff told AFP.

“But there will always be a lot of crime. ”

sgk-fraises / gd / kjm

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