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Berlin: Provocative Norwegian Drama ‘Sex’ Wins Best European Film Award

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Sex, a provocative and candid look at constricting gender roles by Norwegian director Dag Johan Haugerud, has won the Europa Cinemas Label as best European film in the Panorama section of the 2024 Berlin Film Festival.

Jan Gunnar Roise and Thorbjorn Harr star in Sex as two married and ostensibly heterosexual chimney sweeps whose experiences lead them to question their supposedly fixed sexual and gender identities. The film was a critical hit in Berlin, with The Hollywood Reporter comparing its “gentle subversiveness” of the male character study to Joachim Trier’s twist on the traditional rom-com in the Oscar-nominated The Worst Person in the World. [Coincidentally, Worst Person in the World breakout Renate Reinsve was one of the big stars of the Berlinale this year, with two films in competition.]

The Europa Cinemas jury praised Sex as “fresh, original, and, above all, great fun,” adding: “Yes, it is a talky film, but we feel strongly that the open and frank conversations about the fundamental nature of relationships will please audiences around Europe. Their attention is gripped from the first scene, and it will challenge and stay with them for a long time. The excellent photography helps drive the film’s appeal. And what a pleasure to see tangible evidence that men can talk freely about their feelings!”

As a Europa Cinemas winner, Sex will now receive promotional support to help its rollout across the group’s network of art house cinemas, which represent more than 3,000 screens in over 700 European cities.

The Europa Cinemas jury has a solid track record in picking breakouts. Last year’s winner, Ilker Çatak’s The Teachers’ Lounge, made it all the way to the Oscars, where it is a nominee for best international feature. Previous Berlin Europa Cinemas winners include Felix van Groeningen’s Oscar-nominated Belgian drama The Broken Circle Breakdown (2013), When We Leave (2013) from Austrian filmmaker Feo Aladag and Icelandic drama Beautiful Beings (2021) from director Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson.

Sex is the first entry in a planned Sex Dreams Love trilogy from Haugerud. The film was produced by Motlys and Viaplay Group. M-appeal is handling world sales. Strand Releasing picked up North American rights in Berlin and is planning a fall release.

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