Thelma, a shy young student, has just left her religious family in a small town on the west coast of Norway to study at a university in Oslo. While at the library one day, she experiences a violent, unexpected seizure. Soon after, she finds herself intensely drawn towards Anja, a beautiful young student who reciprocates Thelma’s powerful attraction. As the semester continues, Thelma becomes increasingly overwhelmed by her intense feelings for Anja – feelings she doesn’t dare acknowledge, even to herself – while at the same time experiencing even more extreme seizures. As it becomes clearer that the seizures are a symptom of inexplicable, often dangerous, supernatural abilities, Thelma is confronted with tragic secrets of her past, and the terrifying implications of her powers.
Motivation of the adjudication committee
In Thelma, director Joachim Trier uses tools from horror films and thrillers to tell the story of the lonely, pining, and carnal Thelma in a film that is also a convincing depiction of the tension between oppression and being oppressed. The forces of restraint that stand against penetrating needs are awful once set free.
A camera portrays the world from the outside. Yet a film can create a universe like no other, portraying not so much the world as it is, but a way in which to perceive the world. In Thelma this is achieved by way of a sophisticated filmscape that creates some of the most memorable images of contemporary Norwegian cinema.
Screenwriter, director – Joachim Trier
Joachim Trier (born 1974) is a writer, director, and producer, as well as partner in the company Oslo Pictures. Trier attended the European Film College in Denmark, then trained at the National Film and Television School in the UK where he made several award-winning short films. He achieved instant world recognition with his debut feature film Reprise (2006) that gained international acclaim, scooping more than 20 international awards such as Best Director at the Karlovy Vary IFF, and the Discovery Award at the Toronto IFF. His second feature film Oslo, August 31st was selected for Un Certain Regard at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and won Best Director at the Norwegian Amanda awards in 2012.
Louder Than Bombs – his English language debut starring Gabriel Byrne, Jesse Eisenberg and Isabelle Huppert – had its world premiere in an official competition at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and won several awards such as the Bronze Horse-Best Film at the Stockholm IFF, as well as multiple national Amanda awards, including Best Director and Best Screenplay.
Thelma was the opening film of the Norwegian IFF in Haugesund in 2017, and has since been selected at more than 40 international festivals. Since then, the film has won 13 awards including the Critics Award at Haugesund, the Special Jury and Best Screenplay awards at Sitges, Best Foreign Film 2017 from the Houston Film Critics Society, and Best Actor and Best Music from the Norwegian Critics Association. The film was also the Norwegian Oscar candidate for Best Foreign Language Film in 2018.
Trier won the Nordic Council Film Prize in 2016 for Louder Than Bombs. He was nominated in 2007 for Repriseand in 2011 for Oslo, August 31st.
The director was President of the Cannes Critics’ Week in 2018.
Screenwriter – Eskil Vogt
Eskil Vogt (born 1974) is a writer, director, and producer, as well as a partner in the production company Oslo Pictures.
As a screenwriter, Vogt has collaborated on all Joachim Trier’s films, including Reprise, Oslo, August 31st Louder Than Bombs, and Thelma.
Vogt studied directing at the French film school La Fémis. His first short film made in France – An Embrace – won the Prix UIP at the 2003 Grimstad Norwegian Short Film Festival, followed in 2005 with The Strangers, which picked up the Grand Prix at the Angers Premiers Plans Festival.
Blind, his debut feature film as a writer and director premiered at the 2014 Sundance IFF where it won the Screenwriting Award from the World Cinema strand. It scooped more than a dozen other awards, including Best European Film at the Panorama section in Berlin 2014, the New Talent Grand PIX at Copenhagen’s CPH PIX, and four Amanda awards including Best Director and Best Actress. Blind was also nominated for the Nordic Council Film Prize in 2014. Vogt’s next project as a writer and director is the Norwegian drama/horror film about childhood, with the working title The Innocents, produced by Mer Film.
Producer – Thomas Robsahm
Thomas Robsahm (born 1964) is a film producer, director, musician, and former actor. He is a partner in the production company Oslo Pictures.
His directing debut Rebels with a Cause was released in 1992 after a career as a young actor. He has since directed feature films and documentaries including S.O.S., which won an Amanda award – Best Film – in 2000, and Modern Slavery, which won Best Documentary Film at the 2009 Amanda Awards.
As a producer, Robsahm has worked with directors including Joachim Trier, Margreth Olin, Solveig Melkeraaen, Jannicke Systad Jacobsen, Unni Straume, and Emil Trier. He produced both Trier’s Louder Than Bombs, winner of the Nordic Council Film Prize in 2016, and Thelma.
Robsahm’s next feature film project as a producer is the Norwegian drama Hope by Maria Sødahl, starring Stellan Skarsgård and Andre Bræin Hovig.
Robsahm joined the company Oslo Pictures this year, after five years of collaboration with Motlys. He was Feature Film Commissioner for the Norwegian Film Institute between 2009 and 2013.
Original title: Thelma
Director: Joachim Trier
Screenwriters: Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier
Producer: Thomas Robsahm
Principal cast: Eili Harboe, Kaya Wilkins, Henrik Rafaelsen
Production company: Motlys
Running time: 110 minutes
Norwegian distribution: SF Studios
International distribution: Memento Films International