Nordicana 2014

An audacious experiment, the first Nordicana was rapturously received by an audience which never expected to have the opportunity to see in person the shining lights of Scandinavian drama. Despite being an undoubted success few could have predicted a second event would be staged within months, let alone one that boldly expanded its canvas offering a veritable smorgasbord of Nordic screen talent, key literary figures, a celebration of cuisine, and a UK film première.

The rapid expansion of its fanbase forced the organizers to seek out a building large enough to house the many aficionados clamouring for the opportunity to attend. Bidding farewell to the Farmiloe Building, Nordicana upped sticks and relocated to Spitalfield’s Old Truman Brewery and then promptly set about trying to fill every inch of available floor space with entertaining talks, screenings, and demonstrations. Offering a more varied schedule than the previous event, it placed greater emphasis than before on Scandinavia’s rich legacy of crime literature whilst simultaneously celebrating the current crop of TV favourites and offering an intriguing glimpse of the future for Nordic Noir with a preview of The Legacy which will air on Sky Arts later in the year.

Neither a convention or an expo, Nordicana was an experience requiring attendees to throw themselves fully into the spirit of active participation alongside celebration.

A varied schedule enabled attendants to dip their toes into areas of Scandinavian culture that previously might have been alien to them. Neither high brow or restrictive, Nordicana set out to be inclusive and emphasised a playful spirit of spontaneity. Ostensibly set up to commemorate Scandinavian film, TV, and literature it was also a valentine to fans who have been carrying the torch for several years, knowing that they were privy to a secret about some of the finest fiction being produced within the last fifteen years.

Held over the same weekend that BBC Four screened the sensational finale to The Bridge‘s second season, Nordicana enabled several thousand enthusiasts to join together in the act of expressing their affection for the series and, in some instances, to discover for the first time what it means to share so passionately a love for a show with others who are equally committed in their appreciation. An entry point into fandom, the dining area became an vital part of the Nordicana weekend as devotees bonded over coffee whilst discussing a show, panel, or item they had purchased. For others it was the chance to meet again for the first time since the last event and share life stories in addition to debating plot points or opinions of panels. Harmonizing and facilitating, Nordicana brought together admirers from across the continent, enabling new friendships to blossom and cementing existing ones.

The multitude of series, films, and authors being lionized raises the possibility that a section of patrons may have visited Nordicana expecting to witness a single talk and were subsequently so swept up in the enthusiasm they stayed for longer and found themselves appreciating something that they’d either never seen before or erroneously thought might not be to their taste.

A two-way process, the amazement experienced by fans at seeing their favourite writers or performers on stage was matched by the oft expressed amazement by guests at being greeted by an enthusiastic audience equal in size and intensity to a pop concert. Glorifying and educational, the panels afforded the gathering the opportunity to see Sidse Babbet Knudsen sing a few lines from West Side Story‘s Somewhere, be stunned at how glamorous Sofia Helin is in comparison to Saga Noren, witness Emma Kennedy and Adam Price sample cakes, learn about the rules in place within post Dogme95 Danish cinema, and be entertained by Barry Forshaw’s good natured grilling of Arne Dahl and Håkan Nesser.

The only event of its type in the UK, Nordicana deserves high praise for bringing so many talented people to London for the benefit of a few thousand fans who otherwise would never ever get to express their thanks and enthusiasm.  We look forward to doing it all over again in 2015.

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