Oslo Horror Rattles Filmmaker

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Director Stig Svendsen was cooing over his week-old son in his apartment near downtown Oslo when the bomb went off. "I thought it was a thunder crack at first," he tells THR in an interview from the Norwegian capital. "Then my brother called. He was in a store downtown buying toys for my son. That's when I knew it was not thunder but an explosion." The July 22 terrorist attack by fundamentalist Anders Behring Breivik struck a chilling chord with Svendsen, 36, because his first feature, the upcoming Elevator (seeking U.S. distribution), is about a terrorist who tries to blow up a New York building. Eight were killed in the Oslo blast; another 68 died during a shooting spree on Utoya island. Like most of Norway, Svendsen was glued to the TV the rest of the day. "When I went to bed, the reports were 10 people were killed on the island," he says. "When I awoke, it was 84 [since revised]. It affects so many people. It's a human tragedy. It's hard to take in." On July 25, Svendsen took a break from work to attend a peace demonstration in downtown Oslo, where some 150,000 Norwegians -- each carrying a white rose -- marched in memory of the victims. "Every florist in Oslo sold out of flowers," he says. "It was very emotional."