Norweigan Film Festival to Go Ahead Despite July Massacre

The 10-day event kicks off in Haugesund Aug. 17 with local title "Sons of Norway."

COLOGNE, Germany - The 2011 Norwegian International Film Festival will go ahead as planned this year even as the tiny Nordic country remains in shock and mourning over the bombing and shootings of July 22, in which 77 people died.

"Right in the middle of the rush to the finish line for the preparation of this year's festival program, tragedy struck our country," festival organizers said in a statement, adding that they believed it was "the right choice to plan for the festival to run normally." The fest, which runs Aug. 17-26 in the West Coast town of Haugesund, will, however, take part in the national day of mourning planned for Aug. 21 in honor of the victims of the massacre. The festival will screen the ceremony taking place in Oslo, via live feed to its cinemas.

The killings, carried out by Anders Breivik, have deeply traumatized Norwegian society, which sees itself as one of Europe's most peaceful and prosperous nations.

While the tragedy is certain to cast a pall over the festival, organizers are hoping the focus will return to the films, particularly the seven local titles bowing at this year's event. These include the opener Sons of Norway from director Jens Lien about a hippie father and his rebellious teen punk son; the hot crime thriller Headhunters from Morten Tyldum featuring local star Aksel Hennie and the coming-of-age comedy Turn Me On, Goddammit from Jannicke Systad Jacobsen. Norwegian films premiering in Haugesund include Coming Home from first-time director Anders Overgaard, which will open the festival's children's film sidebar debut Cinemagi and the documentaries Pushwagner and Sju Kammers - Frontsostrene.

The festival closes with Joachim Trier's Oslo, August 31, the director's follow up to his acclaimed debut Reprise, which premiered in Cannes' Un Certain Regard section.

International films screening at the 39th Norwegian film fest include Terrence Malick's Palme d'Or winner The Tree of Life and fellow Cannes prize winners Poliss from Maiwenn Le Besco and Drive from Denmark's Nicolas Winding Refn as well as the Iranian feature A Separation from Asghar Farhadi which won this year's Golden Bear in Berlin.

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