The length of the queue on a cloudy Saturday morning in Clerkenwell, London was surprisingly long, showing just how popular the Nordic noir genre has become. Upon closer inspection it became obvious that for the vast majority of people attending at 10.30am was probably a civilised time in their day just after morning coffee and a quick scan of their daily broadsheet. Shared passions can bring out the best in people but can also fire up their competitive side. The crowd was older, calm and seemingly fairly well read and there appeared to be no competitive edge at all. A journalist, a Finnish translator and a lady who did not own a television all spoke in the queue and they explained that they had been quite captivated with the Nordic noir television dramas and books recently available in the UK.
Joe Pidgeon, the event’s organiser on behalf of Arrow films explained to me later that the Farmiloe Building (1868) was chosen due to its atmosphere. It was a former glass and lead warehouse which had a deceptively fancy facade covering an industrial interior of iron beams, hoists, exposed brickwork, aged paint work, and an impressively dark wooden panelled office suite. Dimly lit stairwells provided access for the crowd to the various spaces used for screenings and talks. It was definitely somewhere Lund would have gone alone, with her gun, torch and a thumping heartbeat to track a suspect. The naturally lit courtyard was set up with two bars, a Scandinavian catering van and tables and chairs. There was live acoustic musical entertainment in the afternoon. The guests were happy to mingle and socialise in this space as well as the fans.
Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen) had the all-star treatment and was ushered in through side doors for her interview in a packed warehouse and only 75 people got to meet her for a signing afterwards. The interview was straightforward, professional and quite light-hearted. She didn’t give much away except that series 3 will be different from 1 & 2 and that, as an actress, she really did not feel that her character Birgitte would have handled the ‘chauffer incident’ the way she did. It was interesting to learn that she had lived in Paris for quite some time and that she does not watch or even own a television.
David Hewson gave the same information about converting The Killing from a visual to a literary format as he had given at the Aye Write Festival in Glasgow earlier in the year but the witty interviewing skills of Denise Mina had been replaced by a PowerPoint presentation. He had within this some interesting screen shots of his writing software Scrivener so we could see how he organised and navigated around his work. He explained in an efficient and skillful manner his creative process for writing the books.
The Arne Dahl screening and Q & A session was very popular and eloquently hosted by Nordic Noir expert and author Barry Forshaw. There was a good atmosphere and although this show has not had the buzz that surrounded The Killing or Borgen, you could tell it had quietly built a solid fan base. The mix of questions asked to the author Jan Arnald and the actors was good although some language barriers did exist between some of the actors and the audience. Claes Ljungmark (Viggo Norlander) delighted the audience with his answers and even quoted some Shakespeare.
The retail aspect of the event was very well-managed. There was no shopping overkill. The small selection of goods for sale were varied and of a high quality with stalls staffed by well-informed, friendly people. The food and drink was not overpriced and was fresh, delicious and had the attention to detail which is sometimes lacking at this kind of event. Screenings were numerous and there was always something to watch if you did not want to attend a guest talk, signing or presentation. I would commend the organisers of this event for their use of social media in the lead up to the event. The online chat and tweeting was good fun, informative and useful when it came to actually being there. Certain social barriers had already been broken down, making it much easier to speak to people in person and making you feel that you were included in the wider social circle of the event. As the evening screenings came on around 8pm the social space became quieter as people went for dinner or to watch more films. Plans to watch ‘A Hijacking’ changed and notes from the day were compared with delight by new friends at the bar…