• Golden Globe Awards

Hope (Norway)

Hope is buoyed by a superlative performance by Andrea Braeim Hovig, who not surprisingly has won several acting awards this year. There are so many unexpected twists and turns in the telling of the story, all of them authentic and none less than moving, that it comes as a surprise to learn that this is a true story. The director Maria Sødahl has acknowledged that this story is based on her personal experience and reveals that she was encouraged by friends to make the film. “At the beginning, I did not want to,” she has stated. “I was against the idea of doing a kind of self-therapy, way too self-centered.. “At the beginning, I did not want to,” she has stated. “I was against the idea of doing a kind of self-therapy, way too self-centered. But I eventually did! I had to find an ethical way to develop this project and get carte blanche from my closest family and friends. It was crucial to me that it became a personal and not a private story.”
Even without knowing this, Hope is a surprisingly optimistic film. The film covers a Christmas period of eleven days in which a family grapples with ongoing issues, marriage without passion, smoking causing cancer, marriage vows, children and work. The director who was born in Trondheim and graduated from the Danish Film School has made numerous short films and documentaries before attempting her first fiction feature, the award-winning Limbo, which was released in 2010.
So why the gap between this and her last film? “In a way, it’s a film made against my own will. When I was told that I could prepare to live again, after being initially diagnosed with terminal brain cancer nine years ago, it still took me years to get better. Four years later, I was contacted by a Danish producer to make an international film in Stockholm with an American actress. I said, “Haven’t you heard what happened to me?” The producer said, “Yes…But I believe you’re fine now”. I said, ”No I’m not fine…yet”. But that awoke in me a great lust to be able to go back to work. I had some development money from the Norwegian Film Institute that had been frozen while I was sick, so I used it to start writing again.”
For the record, she reveals there were some minor liberties taken in telling her story, specifically the age difference between husband and wife, ten years, not twenty, and their professions, quite obviously, are different. The film has won much acclaim wherever it’s been shown. It has been nominated for two European Film Awards (Best Director and Best Actress) and it’s been sold to more than 40 countries. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019 and was also featured at the international film festivals in Berlin and Palm Springs. By the way, Stellan Skarsgård