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Norwegian film takes top honors

May 9, 2008

Norwegian film takes top honors

At the second annual Hong International Film Festival, the Norwegian film took top honors. In fact, it swept all five award categories. The festival featured 10-minute films created by students in 300-level foreign language courses in their target language (with English subtitles). This year showcased 12 films in German, Spanish, French and Norwegian around the theme “Ways of Seeing.”

“It’s basically a way to get student to look at what could be familiar territory in a different way, from a different perspective,” explained Scott Taylor, visiting assistant professor of French.

Students were given free reign when interpreting the theme. Plotlines ranged from the story of how a French immigrant becomes homeless to the spying of a peanut-obsessed squirrel.

The Norwegian film “Summing,” translated as “Buzzing,” won every award category: Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Use of Theme, Best Film and the People’s Choice. A panel of judges awarded the first four categories, and the audience selected the People’s Choice award.

In the film, a man is dancing around and throwing his hands in the air in the middle of a park. A number of characters view him from a distance, and each attributes his antics to different causes, such as warming up for a run, being in love or practicing Tai Chi. The end of the film reveals the truth: the man is being attacked by bees.

“It’s about how you put yourself on other people – how you project yourself on others,” explained Rebecca Richardson.

The upper-division Norwegian language course has only four students – far fewer than most of the other languages offered at PLU. Along with Richardson, the filmmakers included Britta Helm, Christy Olsen and Ryan Hoskins, with help from special guests along the way.

“We were fortunate that our professor, Troy Storfjell, designed the class around film,” Olsen said.

All semester long, they learned the art of filmmaking by watching Norwegian films and learning about the process, from camera angles and storyboarding the sequence of events to editing. Olsen estimates her team of four spent 125 hours total on a seven-and-a-half minute film.

“I was nervous about the entire process,” Olsen said. “But when we actually started filming, it was just so much fun.”

Olsen adds she was surprised to find the filmmaking assignment did enhance her language skills. Since all aspects of the process – storyboards, camera directions, the script – had to be completed in Norwegian, the students had to learn an entirely new vocabulary. Plus, Olsen said they worked hard to make the script sound conversational, even if that meant some of the lines weren’t grammatically correct.

The film festival is the invention of former German professor Annekathrin Lange. Along with providing students a unique setting to use their language skills in, it also brings cohesion and unity to the department, Taylor said.

For more information, visit the languages and literatures department’s Web site.