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Cry Wolf takes top Nordic script prize

Cry Wolf (Ulven kommer) looks at the fall-out from a teenager’s school essay

GÖTEBORG: Maja Jul Larsen, lead writer and creator of Danish abuse drama Cry Wolf (Ulven kommer), has won the 2021 Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize for scriptwriting at the TV Drama Vision strand during this year’s online Göteborg Film Festival.

Now its fifth year, the awards ceremony presents a NOK200,000 (US$24,000) prize for outstanding scriptwriting, with the winner coming from a shortlist of five dramas from across the Nordic region.

The eight-part drama was produced in-house by DR Drama and premiered on the pubcaster last October. It explores the family and societal consequences when a teenage girl writes a school essay about her stepfather’s violent behaviour, which triggers an investigation by social services into the parents, who deny the charge.

For Larsen, whose writing credits include The Legacy, Follow the Money and Borgen, Cry Wolf is also her first show as a creator. The series is also one of the first to be developed and greenlit under Christian Rank, who took over as head of drama at DR following the departure of Piv Bernth.

Larsen’s extensive acknowledgements included thanking DR “for having the courage to tell this story about social services, and for having the courage put a 14-year-old girl in the lead role.”

This year’s three-person jury comprised Felicia Elisabeth Jackson, director of the THIS – Future Stories & Engagement and Aarhus Series festivals; Swedish actor Evin Ahmad (The Rain, Beyond Dreams, Snabba Cash reboot); and Israeli drama exec Ran Tellem (Homeland, The Head), head of international content development at The Mediapro Studio.

“It’s been a great year for series but one stood out,” said Tellem, explaining the jury’s choice. “We are in a time where we are bombarded with content, so we looked for a unique story.”

Jackson called Cry Wolf “public service as its best,” adding: “The UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child declares that ‘Children have the right to be brought up in a spirit of peace.’ Is this the case here? Can you always trust your children? The series focuses on what a family will do to survive, and how hard it can be for a social worker to protect children and their rights to lead a good childhood.”

Ahmad added that the show, “questions you as a viewer, what should you believe. You both love and hate each character. It is complicated but gripping – this is why we have television.”

Ahead of the announcement, Liselotte Forsman, CEO of Nordisk Film & TV Fond, hailed all five nominees, summing them up as relevant, inventive and relatable.

The other nominees included Matti Kinnunen as head writer on Finnish human-smuggling drama Cargo (Rahti, 8×50’), which he also directed. Co-writers included Johanna Hartikainen, Tarja Kylmä and Veikko Aaltonen. Cargo is produced by Fremantle Finland for Finnish pubcaster YLE and launches this autumn.

Cilla Jackert was nominated for Swedish police drama Thin Blue Line (Tunna blå linjen, 10×60’), co-written with Erik Arhnbom and Malin Marmgren. Produced by Anagram Sverige for SVT, the series launched in January.

Jóhann Ævar Grímsson was nominated for the Icelandic crime drama Sisterhood (Systrabönd, 6×45’), co-written with Björg Magnúsdóttir, Jóhanna Friðrika Sæmundsdóttir and Silja Hauksdóttir. It was produced by Sagafilm for streaming service Síminn and Viaplay Nordics and is due to launch in Q2 this year.

Also nominated was Kim Fupz Aakeson for Norwegian drama Welcome to Utmark (Velkommen til Utmark, 8×45’), produced by Paradox Film 8 for HBO Europe. The series is due out this year.

Past winners have included Stephen Uhlander and Mette Bølstad for political thriller Nobel (2017) for NRK; Adam Price for his character-driven drama exploring faith and religion Ride Upon the Storm (2018) for DR; Merja Aakko and Mika Ronkainen for small-town crime drama All the Sins (2019) for Elisa Viihde; and Sara Johnsen for terror drama 22 July (2020) for NRK, based on the terror attack that took place in Norway in 2011.

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