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Jan Erik Holst • Norwegian Film Institute

‘‘Edvard Munch goes on tour’’


- Jan Erik Holst, from the Norwegian Film Institute, unveils details about the great tour organised around the 150th anniversary of the birth of painter Edvard Munch

Jan Erik Holst • Norwegian Film Institute

Jan Erik Holst, from the Norwegian Film Institute, unveils details about the great tour organised around the 150th anniversary of the birth of painter Edvard Munch.

Why did you organise this tour?
Jan Erik Holst:
Because Munch is a superstar whose birthday it is this year: he would have been 150 years old. Many events are scheduled for the occasion, in Oslo naturally, but also in seven other Norwegian towns linked to Munch, his work and his story: let’s take the example of Moss, a small town on the edge of the Oslo fjord, where he lived between 1913 and 1916. Munch was a painter, but he also had a great interest in photography and cinema, which are means of expression that he used in a novel and experimental way, just as it was shown recently during the Oeil moderne exhibition at the Centre Pompidou. The influence of cinema is visible in paintings such as Le cheval au galop or Les travailleurs rentrant chez eux. Munch was also very sensitive to the German expressionist cinema of the 1920’s.

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Munch himself made a few small films.
Yes, he had a French camera, a 9,5 mm Baby Pathé, which he used often. He also like to go to the cinema in Moss, sometimes with his dog Boy. This town honours him with a beautiful exhibition.

What does your tour offer to Munch fans?
Our programme consists of about ten films from which the event organisers can choose. It is worth mentioning Dagnyby Haakon Sandøy, dedicated to Dagny Juel, a friend of Munch and Strindberg whom I find quite fascinating, Dance of Life by Sølvi Lindseth, which mainly focuses of the relationship of Munch with women, and in which you can see authentic documents, such as Munch in his atelier in Ekely. There is also a short film by Anja Breien called Faces.

A biography?
No, rather states of minds, commentaries inspired by portraits painted by Munch, alongside a poem by Danish writer Paul Borum. A real little art film. And there is also the very famous Edvard Munch by Peter Watkins.

These last two films date back to 1974. Are there more recent movies relating to Munch?
A film by Dheeraj Akolkar, which will soon be released: it will mainly be composed of interviews and archives. Akolkar is the director of Liv & Ingmar, a documentary focused on Ullmann and Bergman.

There are rumours surrounding a film about Munch, with Michael Fassbender in the main role.
It is true. It is in preparation. It is a mutual project between Norway and Germany, produced by Åge Åberge, the producer of Kon-Tiki [+see also:
film review
film profile
, with a budget of about 7 million euros. This film is based on the work by Norwegian writer Ketil Bjørnstad.

You are going on tour with Robert Ferguson, a British expert on Hamsun who settled in Norway a long time ago.
He is also a novelist, translator and screenwriter. He knows Munch by heart and his contemporaries. We are thinking of setting up conferences inspired by the screened films, and bring about debates especially in universities. There are true fans all over the world. It is therefore dependent on the chosen films and themes.

Will you travel a lot?
Our selection of films has already been successfully presented in the Scandinavia House in New York. The tour itself begins this autumn in Tallinn in Estonia, then in Lübeck in Germany and in Vilnius in Lithuania. Then comes Romania: we will be present at the Bucharest Book Fair, and also in Cluj and Iași, two towns that enjoy priviledged ties with Scandinavia. Next year we will go to Paris as part of the Saga Nordica cultural exchange, and probably to Rome as well. Poland and the Czech Republic have also shown some interest.  

Will you sell tee-shirts with Munch motifs?
Oh no! In terms of tie-ins, hats would be better. Munch, who was very conscious of his appearance, loved hats. 

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