Photo: Stig Jarnes Photo: Stig Jarnes

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Sara Johnsen

Sara Johnsen (b. 1970) is one of Scandinavia’s most distinguished directors and writers. In addition to penning and directing awarded TV-series and feature films, Johnsen is the author of two novels: White Man, and He Knows Something She Can Try.

Johnsen’s acclaimed short film Houdini’s Hound (2003) became an instant international hit, showing at festivals all over the world and winning ‘Best Short Film’ at Berlin International Film Festival and Almería International Short Film Festival among others. Her first feature film, Kissed by Winter (2005), received fantastic reviews and became Norway’s submission to the Academy Awards. It was also the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at AFI Fest and nominated for the prestigious Nordic Council Film Prize.

The year 2009 saw the release of Johnsen’s second feature, Upperdog, which was received with great acclamation and became a box office success. Upperdog was presented with the Norwegian Film Critics Award and became a huge success at that year’s Amanda Awards, taking home the awards for ‘Best Film’, ‘Best Direction’, ‘Best Actress’, and ‘Best Cinematography’.

Her film All That Matters Is Past (2012) had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and was nominated for ‘Best Nordic Film’ at the Gothenburg Film Festival. Johnsen’s latest feature, Framing Mom (2017) gained great attention for its excellent direction and leading actress, Ruby Dagnall, who was awarded ‘Best Actress’ at the Amanda Awards.

Johnsen is creator and writer of 22 July, a series about the everyday heroes who took action following the terror attack in Norway on July 22nd, 2011. 22 July premiered in January 2020 and has been lauded in the Norwegian and international press. Johnsen also emerged as the winner of the 2020 Nordic TV Drama Screenplay Award for 22 July.

Awards

Shortlisted for LovelyBooks Leserpreis, Shortlisted for the Storytel Awards See full list
Seriekritikerprisen (Best Drama) Norway – 22. juli 22 July 2020
Fritt Ord Tribute Norway – 22. juli 22 July 2020
Golden Screen Award (Best TV Drama) Norway – 22. juli 22 July 2020
Golden Screen Award (Best Script) Norway – 22. juli 22 July 2020
Nordisk Film & TV Fond (Nordic TV Drama Screenplay Award) – 22. juli 22 July 2020
Festival del Cinema Europeo Nominee (Best Film) Italia – Rosemari Framing Mom 2017
Trondheim International Film Festival Nominee (Best Director) Norway – Uskyld All That Matters Is Past 2013
Gothenburg Film Festival Nominee (Best Nordic Film) Sweden – Uskyld All That Matters Is Past 2013
Arne Skouens Honorary Award Norway 2012
TheWIFTS Foundation International Visionary Awards (The Jury Award) – Uskyld All That Matters Is Past 2012
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Nominee (Grand Prize) Estonia – Uskyld All That Matters Is Past 2012
Rouen Nordic Film Festival (Grand Jury Prize) France – Upperdog 2010
Amanda Awards (Best Direction) Norway – Upperdog 2010
Amanda Awards Nominee (Best Screenplay) Norway – Upperdog 2010
Trondheim International Film Festival (Best Original Screenplay) Norway – Upperdog 2010
Trondheim International Film Festival (Best Director) Norway – Upperdog 2010
Nordic Council Film Prize Nominee – Upperdog 2010
Norwegian International Film Festival (Film Critics Award) Norway – Upperdog 2009
Warsaw International Film Festival Nominee (Grand Prix) Poland – Upperdog 2009
Camerimage Nominee (Golden Frog) Poland – Vinterkyss Kissed by Winter 2006
Trondheim International Film Festival (Best Director) Norway – Vinterkyss Kissed by Winter 2006
Nordic Council Film Prize Nominee – Vinterkyss Kissed by Winter 2005
Brussels European Film Festival Nominee (Golden Iris) Belgium – Vinterkyss Kissed by Winter 2005
Amanda Awards Nominee (Best Screenplay) Norway – Vinterkyss Kissed by Winter 2005
Amanda Awards (Best Debut) Norway – Vinterkyss Kissed by Winter 2005
Bratislava International Film Festival Nominee (Grand Prix) Slovakia – Vinterkyss Kissed by Winter 2005
AFI Fest (Grand Jury Prize) US – Vinterkyss Kissed by Winter 2005
Aspen Shortsfest (Special Jury Award) US – Houdinis hund Houdini's Hound 2004
Buster International Children's Film Festival (Buster's Short Film Award) Denmark – Houdinis hund Houdini's Hound 2003
Chicago International Children's Film Festival Nominee (Adult's Jury Award) US – Houdinis hund Houdini's Hound 2003
Almería International Short Film Festival (Best Short Film) Spain – Houdinis hund Houdini's Hound 2003
Berlin International Film Festival (Best Short Film) Germany – Houdinis hund Houdini's Hound 2003
Amanda Awards Nominee (Best Children's or Youth Film) Norway – Houdinis hund Houdini's Hound 2003
Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival (Special Prize in Memoriam R.W. Fassbinder) Germany – Folk flest bor i Kina Utopia - Nobody's Perfect in Perfect Country 2002
Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival (FIPRESCI Prize) Germany – Folk flest bor i Kina Utopia - Nobody's Perfect in Perfect Country 2002
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Filmography

Related news

‘22 July’ wins Prix Europa

The winners of the prestigious Prix Europa have been announced, and 22 July, created by Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune, was awarded ‘Best European TV Fiction Series of the Year.’ Prix Europa is Europe’s largest festival for television, radio, and online media.

Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune has to date been awarded Seriekritikerprisen, the Fritt Ord Tribute, the Nordic TV Drama Screenplay Award and three Golden Screen Awards for their lauded drama series.

‘22 July’ wins Best Drama at Seriekritikerprisen

The lauded drama series 22 July, created by Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune, has been awarded ‘Best Drama’ at the newly founded Norwegian Seriekritikerprisen.

Anna Bache-Wiig and Siv Rajendram Eliassen’s successful series Witch Hunt earned a nomination in the same category, and won ‘Best Actor’ for lead actress Ingrid Bolsø Berdal’s performance as the main character.

Seriekritikerprisen is the first Norwegian Critics Award solely for TV series. The jury consists of 18 critics from Norwegian media houses, and the awards come in three categories: ‘Best Drama,’ ‘Best Comedy’ and ‘Best Actor’.

‘22 July’ wins Golden Screen Award for Best TV Drama

Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune’s lauded TV series 22 July was awarded the prestigious prize for ‘Best TV Drama’ at this year’s Golden Screen Awards. Johnsen and Sletaune also won in the categories ‘Best Script’ and ‘Best Director’ respectively.

Earlier this year, Sara Johnsen won the Nordic TV Drama Screenplay Award as the writer of 22 July.

‘22 July’, ‘Exit’ and ‘Witch Hunt’ nominated for the Golden Screen Awards

The nominees for the 2020 Golden Screen Awards have been revealed. The Golden Screen (Gullruten) is the annual award for the Norwegian TV industry and their equivalent to the American Emmy Awards.

Pål Sletaune and Sara Johnsen are both nominated for their lauded TV series 22 July, Sletaune for ‘Best Director’ and Johnsen for ‘Best Script’. 22 July is also nominated for ‘Best TV Drama’. Øystein Karlsen, creator of the success series Exit, is nominated for ‘Best Script’ and ‘Best Director’ alongside Exit’s nominations for ‘Best TV Drama’ and ‘Best Innovation’. The much acclaimed TV series Witch Hunt, created and written by Anna Bache-Wiig and Siv Rajendram Eliassen, is also nominated for ‘Best TV Drama’.

The winners will be announced on July 19 and the award show will air on TV 2 Norway and TV 2 Sumo.

Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune awarded with the Fritt Ord Tribute

Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune have been announced as the recipients of the Fritt Ord Tribute for their TV series 22 July. The Fritt Ord Tribute acknowledges remarkable efforts to promote free speech, often in connection with current affairs.

22 July has received great praise in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and earlier this year Johnsen was awarded the Nordic TV Drama Screenplay Award for her outstanding writing on the series.

Sara Johnsen wins the 2020 Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize

Sara Johnsen, writer of the lauded 22 July, emerged as the winner of the 2020 Nordic TV Drama Screenplay Award for outstanding writing on a Nordic drama series. The jury statement reads: “Drama is a powerful tool that should be used wisely, especially when it comes to portraying stories inspired by real events. The jury was blown away by the brave approach to telling a story respectfully while still grasping its emotional core.”

22 July premiered on Norwegian NRK January 5, and became an immediate success among viewers and critics alike. The first episode is now available on SVT Play in Sweden.

Fantastic reviews for ‘22 July’

22 July, the absorbing new drama series from award-winning filmmakers Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune, premiered January 5 on NRK and has received great reviews in the Norwegian press.

“As good as TV gets. /…/ Johnsen and Sletaune have created an ingenious and poignant TV series.”
Nettavisen

“Hard-hitting and nuanced.”
Dagbladet

“Shocking and realistic. /…/ Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune delivers an impressive and solid piece of work.”
KRSby

“Respectful and critical.”
Verdens Gang

“An affectionate and multifaceted portrait.”
Morgenbladet

“A powerful July 22 series with pain and critique.”
Adresseavisen

22 July is an impressive accomplishment. /…/ What they have achieved is a difficult feat. They have produced a series that is important. And dignified. /…/ See it.”
Rushprint

Sara Johnsen nominated for the Nordic TV Drama Screenplay Award

For the fourth consecutive year the award for outstanding writing in Nordic drama will be handed out at Gothenburg Film Festival’s TV Drama Vision. Sara Johnsen is nominated as the writer of 22 July.

22 July tells the story of those who, by virtue of their professions, witnessed the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Norway on July 22, 2011. They rescued the injured, buried the dead, comforted the grieving, and attempted to understand in the face of overwhelming grief and shock. Featuring fictional characters but based on meticulous research into the true events, 22 July is a story about the systems that shape our daily lives, and who we are when tragedy strikes.

22 July will premiere on NRK on January 5.

‘For Life’ and ‘22 July’ to launch at MIPCOM

NRK’s new series For Life and 22 July will both make their debut at the Cannes fall content market, the largest TV market in the world.

For Life, created by Gjermund Stenberg Eriksen, is a highly innovative crime series set in two timelines: in present day, as we follow investigator Victoria Woll, solving cases and putting criminals behind bars, and in the future, when she herself has been incarcerated. For Life will premiere on NRK in spring 2020.

NRK’s other anticipated series, 22 July, created by Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune, explores how ordinary people responded to the tragedy of July 22nd, 2011, when a heavily armed right-wing terrorist attacked a summer camp full of youths. 22 July will premiere on NRK January 2020.

Photo: Stig Jarnes

Sara Johnsen joins Salomonsson Agency

The award-winning Norwegian director Sara Johnsen is one of Scandinavia’s most distinguished directors and writers. In addition to penning and directing TV-series and feature films, Johnsen is the author of two novels: White Man, and He Knows Something She Can Try.

Her first feature film, Kissed by Winter (2005), received fantastic reviews, became Norway’s submission to the Academy Awards, won the Grand Jury Prize at AFI Fest and was nominated for the prestigious Nordic Council Film Prize. Her second feature, Upperdog (2009), was received with great acclamation and became a box office success. Upperdog was presented with the Norwegian Film Critics Award and became the big winner at that year’s Amanda Awards.

All That Matters Is Past (2012) had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and was nominated for ‘Best Nordic Film’ at the Gothenburg Film Festival.

Johnsen is currently working on 22 July, a series about the everyday heroes who took action following the terror attack in Norway on July 22nd, 2011. The anticipated series, created by Johnsen and Pål Sletaune, will premiere early 2020.