On Sunday the big draw was the Borgen Screening and Dramatising Politics panel discussion. Initially episode 16 was shown, this is said to be the best ever episode of Borgen. It’s the one where the audience find out about Kaspar’s back story and Birgitte has to decide about her daughter taking anti-depressants. The large and varied panel members* spoke about various topics such as the technicalities of screenwriting and certain rules they adhered to such as not referencing any real life political events of the last 30 years. They also spoke about how they chose actors ( a mix of new and established actors) and how the show was not to be about a bad politician as that was nothing new, but rather they would address ‘badness’ by focusing on a politician’s home and family life.
One interesting point that came out of this discussion and Q & A session was that for Danes gender seems not to be an issue. Birgitte is a Prime Minister who is a woman, not a female prime minister. Lund is a cop who is a woman, not a female cop. All the Scandinavians seemed to be very intrigued that this was still an issue for us in the UK in the 21stcentury. Another point which was glaringly obvious was that the interpretation of Danish politics from the English was very different from the interpretation of the Scots and the Welsh viewers. The London based media types tarred all of the UK with the same Anglo-centric brush when in fact a good percentage of the UK was clearly viewing the show through different political goggles. This fact came up a few times in different discussions and it was noted in the Sidse interview on Saturday that Borgen in particular had struck a particular cord with the Scots.
The authors, actors, invited guests and the crowd at this event were all so welcoming and approachable, attention had been paid to the literary aspects as well as the visual and sensual aspects of Nordic Noir and overall the experience was one that would have satisfied anyone with an interest in this area. Both days had a little of the celebratory air of Scandinavia at Midsummer time to them. I learnt from a new friend about’ Janteloven’ (the Law of Jante) a term used to describe certain aspects of Scandinavian society which places emphasis on the group collective rather than individual effort. I now present to you ‘Owenloven’ (The Law of Owen) which should perhaps be considered when attending future Nordic Noir type events:
The rules state:
1. Don’t think you can get meatballs anytime. If you want meatballs, get them early, they sell out quickly.
2. Don’t think you can be in two places at one time. Decide if you want to listen to talks or attend screenings.
3. Don’t think you can collect autographs without anything to sign.
4. Don’t think that everything will run on time.
5. Don’t think you can ask yes/no questions and get an interesting answer in return
6. Don’t think you know what is going on without constantly checking the organiser’s Twitter feed, this way you find out who is where and any last minute changes.
7. Don’t think about bringing a sandwich…if the organisers have gone to the bother of providing Scandinavian food and drink then try it if you can.
8. Don’t think about prices. Goods for sale will be beautiful, high quality and well crafted, be prepared for prices which reflect this.
9. Don’t miss a photo opportunity. Pictures are a great way to record your experience.
10. Don’t think you will be able to read subtitles at a screening unless the organiser has arranged to have subtitles moved to the top of the screen or you are in a cinema type setting
11. Don’t hesitate. You are there for a short time only. Speak to people, ask the questions you want to ask and invite someone to go for a beer/coffee and a waffle…in a dimly lit space with a thumping heartbeat
*Adam Price (creator and main writer of Borgen), Lars Knutzen (actor), Jeppe Gjervig Gram (writer, Borgen), Ingolf Gabold(former head of tv drama and DR, and the man who made Danish TV drama a success), Jesper Nielsen (director, Borgen), Lone Theils (journalist, Politiken), Paula Milne (writer, The Politician’s Husband), Kath Mattock (script editor , producer)