The nominees are Martin Dirkov (Denmark) for “Holy Spider,” Anna Mari Kähärä (Finland) for “Ruthless Times: Songs of Care,” Jørund Fluge Samuelsen (Norway) for “Alle Hater Johan,” Eðvarð EgilssonPáll Ragnar Pálsson (Iceland) for “Skjálfti/ Quake,” and Anna von Hausswolff & Filip Leyman (Sweden) for “Most Beautiful Boy in the World”

The award ceremony to take place during Nordic Film Music Days on Feb 18 in Berlin

Berlin, Dec 7, 2022-

The composer organizations of the five Nordic countries have announced their national nominees for the 13thAnnual HARPA Nordic Film Composers Award. The award ceremony will take place on Feb 18th during Nordic Film Music Days in Berlin, with the full program to be announced in January.  

Each year during the HARPA Nordic Film Music Days, the HARPA Nordic Film Composers Award is awarded to the most outstanding Nordic composer of the year – and thereby putting a spotlight on Nordic talent and craftmanship. National juries from each Nordic country have picked their national nominee. The theme that follows this year’s nominees is showcased through biographical and documentarian lenses as the distinction from the fictional cinematic experience gets embedded with a contemporary presentation of the modern world. The five composers reflect the high quality of Nordic artistry.

The nominees are:

DENMARK | Martin Dirkov for his score for” Holy Spider” directed by Ali Abbasi 

Danish Jury Quote: Martin Dirkov has created a complex and unconventional score for Ali Abbasi’s intense psychological thriller, “Holy Spider”. Dirkov’s mix of symphonic drama, middle eastern motifs, and abstract electronic soundscapes elegantly integrates with the sound design and cinematography and brings us convincingly into the Spider Murderer’s claustrophobic and naive psychopathy, as well as the female journalist’s emotional fight against corruption and misogyny. The music captures the suffocating sense of mortal fear, but manages simultaneously to be beautifully melodic and inventive, and credibly underlines the unpredictable and scary twists of the story.

FINLAND | Anna Mari Kähärä for her score for “Ruthless Times: Songs of Care” directed by Susanna Helke 

Finnish Jury Quote: Anna-Mari Kähärä’s primitive, honest, and touching score breaks straight through the endurance deficits, statistics, and staff sizings of the modern eldercare. In Kähärä’s music the silent and silenced ones gain a voice so powerful and rugged that it hurts: it’s a cry for help and humanity of the generations.

ICELAND Eðvarð Egilsson, Páll Ragnar Pálsson for their score for “Quake” | directed by Tinna Hrafnsdóttir

Icelandic Jury Quote: Music, memory and feelings are intricately linked.  This has been the essence of rituals that have been celebrated since the beginning of civilization. Music and sound have been used to trigger emotions in a variety of situations ranging from cathartic expressions of sympathy, grief, love to the salivating dogs of Pavolv.

In film history there are numerous examples where music has been a prime mover and even an invisible character as in Miklós Rózsa’s music for “Spellbound” and David Raksin’s haunting theme for “Laura” to cite two enormously influential examples.

Páll Ragnar Pálsson and Eðvarð Egilsson know their music history, technique  and evade all pitfalls that an unmeasured approach might invite. The music comes out of the main character and her inner self that is repressed and hidden. It becomes the voice of the neurons and the inner turmoil that in lesser hands might invite cliché upon cliché. Every note is controlled and there for a reason. Every nuance finds its way into the music but never gives anything away and only illustrates what is there.

This is Zen in the Art of Film Music. A subtle masterpiece from two composers at the pinnacle of their powers, using their accumulated experience in various forms and expressions of music in a purposeful and wonderfully creative way.

NORWAY | Jørund Fluge Samuelsen for his score for ”Alle Hater Johan” directed by Hallvar Witzø 

Norwegian Jury Quote: This is the story about an outsider in a tiny community nestling the Norwegian shoreline. His parents fought the Germans in WWII, mostly with dynamite. Apparently, a fascination for explosives stuck with Johan in a way that makes him very unpopular with the other inhabitants of the hamlet. The music of Jørund Fluge Samuelsen keeps the slapstick-style comedy of the film very much down to earth, and is always quite low-key, despite a few explosive moments. A few melodies and repeated chords unify the score, while the instrumentation underlines both the folksiness of Johan himself and the setting. Sound-producing objects you may find in a wind torn house on the coast include Jew’s harp, harmonicas, fiddles, a harmonium and then some more exotic percussion and a didgeridoo (that blends in rather surprisingly). Add a male chorus, and you have a score which brings a measured amount of comedy, sentimentality, and a quirky, homemade feel to the whole film. Beneath all the humour, there are some darker truths about what war does to people and how we retell stories from the war, with Samuelsen’s score adding quite a bit of afterthought.

SWEDEN | Anna von Hausswolff & Filip Leyman for their score for “Most Beautiful Boy in the World” directed by Kristian Petri and Kristina Lindström

Swedish Jury Quote: “The Most Beautiful Boy in the World” is a striking story about the musician and actor Björn Andrésen who was chosen by Luchino Visconti for the part of young Tadzio in his film from 1971. Many years later Björn Andrésen thoughtfully tells Kristian Petri and Kristina Lindström about the film role which took on such a fateful significance in his life. 

The beautiful, evocative music score by Anna von Hausswolff and Filip Leyman emphasizes his story about a life marked by dramatic events and tragedies in dark moods, in fragile strings and piano. The story about a boy whose mother disappeared when he was 10, a boy carrying an inner sense of emptiness, a boy who wanted to become a concerto pianist but became an icon because of his beauty at age 14. The low-key, brilliant music by Anna von Hausswolff and Filip Leyman interweaves in a delicate way all the artistical film narratives in this striking documentary.

An international jury will now determine the winner. The 2023 jury members are:

Sanna Salmenkallio (Finland) – Composer & 2022 HARPA Winner
Sophie Joos (Belgium) – World Soundtrack Academy

Sung-woo Cho (South Korea) – Composer 

Michael P. Aust (Germany) – Festival Director SoundTrack_Cologne

Lucy Bright (UK) – Music Supervisor 

Christine Aufderhaar (Germany) – Composer

The HARPA Nordic Film Music Days & Composers Award was introduced by the Nordic composer organizations in 2010. Since 2016, the award ceremony took place at the Nordische Botschaften in Berlin in connection with the Berlinale Film Festival and virtually in 2021 and as hybrid event in 2022. 

For more information, please visit www.nordicfilmmusicdays.com

PreviousWinners of HARPA Nordic Film Composers Award
2022 Hybrid | Sanna Salemnkallio | Finland | “Aalto”

2021 Virtual | Flemming Nordkrog | Denmark | “Shine Your Eyes”

2020 Berlin | Gaute Storaas | Norway | “Bröllop, begravning & dop” 
2019 Berlin | Davíð Þór Jónsson and Benedikt Erlingsson | Iceland | “Woman at war” 
2018 Berlin| Daníel Bjarnason | Iceland | “Under the Tree” 
2017 Berlin and Cannes | Honor award | Bent Fabricius-Bjerre | Denmark 
2017 Berlin and Cannes | Sune Martin | Denmark | “Land of Mine” 
2016 Berlin | Honor award | Johann Johannsson | Iceland 
2016 Berlin | Atli Örvarsson | Iceland | “Rams” 
2014 Espoo | Matti Bye | Sweden | “Faro” 
2013 Trondheim |Tuomas Kantelinen | Finland | “Puhdistus” 
2012 Reykjavik |Fredrik Emilson | Sweden | “Kronjuvelarna” 
2011 Copenhagen | Gaute Storaas | Norway | “Elias og jakten på havets gull” 
2010 Gothenburg | Dani Strömbäck | Finland | “Letters to Father Jacob”