OUT STEALING HORSES has won the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution for its cinematography at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. Director/writer Hans Petter Moland is immensely grateful for the prestigious award, as he comments: "After a week of getting fantastic response from the audience, press and critics, to get an award in Berlin, in competition with the elite of international films, is the very top of it all."

Cinematographer Rasmus Videbæk expressed his excitement about the award in the following comment: "Getting recognition for the cinematography on this movie means a lot to me. Not only is it based on my favorite book of all times, but working with Hans Petter Moland on turning that book into cinema, was such a great experience."

In an interview during the festival, Stellan described his relationship with Moland - "I push him to be more creative and he pushes me to be better, I believe. With him I may risk more than working with other directors. We have been good friends since all of these great years since I played in his movie "Zero Kelvin" (1995). The first two Hans Peter's films in which I played were dark, arthouse films. That was followed by two comedies, so I'm glad that he returned to more serious filmmaking. I am also glad that he began to explore his more tragic side and his own attitude towards nature because he is very attached to the Norwegian wilderness."

Asked about the lack of humor in the film, Stellan responded, "There are some comic moments in the film, especially as far as my relationship with neighbor Lars is concerned, but no more than that. There were scenes that were much funnier, but Hans Petter cut them out, which was probably intended to maintain a certain tension and melancholy in the film."

Stellan was asked if he was at all like his character Trond and he replied, "No. Hans Petter is the one that is more an outward type of man. We are very different. I like the pulse of the city. Hans Petter is the type of man who finds the skis; he goes on a mountain for two days, kills the deer with his own hands, tears it with his teeth, then goes back home and puts food on the table. I do not do this. (Laughter.) For me, he is a real man."


I've added more photos taken at the Berlinale premiere of OUT STEALING HORSES that took place on Saturday.  According to producer Turid Overseen, the novel by Per Petterson is the most popular, international Norwegian book ever. Of course, adapting a book to the screen doesn't always work as we saw with another Norwegian bestseller - "The Snowman" by Jo Nesbø. Stellan told the press, "'Out Stealing Horses' is a fantastic book, but I thought they can't make a film out of this one. But then Hans Petter Moland got involved and I knew he was the right man for it. His relationship to Norwegian nature is unparalleled". Petterson's novel was published in 2003 and has been awarded several literary prizes in Norway and in Europe. A Norwegian production company bought the book's film rights in 2008, but the filming did not start for another decade.

The international reviews that followed the festival premiere are very positive. The following critique from Italy is what I believe to be an accurate account of its possible flaws - "Moland is not able to maintain a continuous drama tension throughout the long film life, often using visual shortcuts and taking advantage of temporal jumps to deceive the audience. But there are two aspects that, in some way, save Moland's film. The first is the interpretation of Skarsgård, which gives a certain senile melancholy to his character, being able to communicate more with the silences and the looks than with words. The second is the sequences where in the foreground there is the wild nature of the woods of the Scandinavian peninsula, the shooting of the cuts of the trees, the sound of the wind among the grass stems, the movement of nature, photographed in a hyper-realistic way, bordering sometimes a Malickian feeling of setting up the landscape that thus becomes a real character."

Have you noticed that Stellan most often wears black (or navy blue)? Over the past 15 years, it's been more difficult for me to identify undated photos. If you're reading this Stellan - more variety needed! (laughing)

Do you remember how Stellan played his overweight brother in the Mamma Mia sequel? Here are some photos showing him wearing a multi-piece silicone prosthetic. The makeup folks said, "He was a joy to work with - a beautiful man!"

Here are some new premiere photos taken last year. The first two show Stellan with Megan and their boys Ossian and Kolbjörn at the Halvdan Viking premiere in Stockholm on October 26th. The next two show Stellan with the two young stars of the film.

This last photo was taken at the Gräns premiere in August.


Today OUT STEALING HORSES was featured at the Berlin International Film Festival and included a photocall, press conference and evening premiere. Representing the Norwegian film at the festival were director Hans Petter Moland, Stellan and his co-stars Bjorn Floberg, Tobias Santelmann, Danica Curcic and Jon Ranes plus novelist Per Petterson. During the press conference, Moland spoke about the challenge of adapting the book - "I loved the atmosphere and the tone of the book. I love the ability of certain works to highlight the deeper aspects of humanity, which in the book are treated in an engaging way. It is not easy to describe the plot in a nutshell, but reading the book was an incredible experience so I decided to turn it into a movie."

Stellan adds, "I had read the script years ago, but I knew the book that is fantastic. Many people tried to adapt it but Hans Petter succeeded where others had failed. He managed to relate to the story, which does not surprise me. Hans is a man of the wilderness. He drags me into snow at twenty degrees below zero and we have fun."

Exceptional work on the image and sound, both conveyed Norwegian nature on the big screen. Moland explains that he tried to paint the tactile consistency of the forest by working with light and shadow: "In the film there is very little sky, I wanted the mystery and intimacy of the forest...  We wanted the sound of the forest to be fundamental, we did not want music to anticipate the vision or convey the feelings."

I often find soundtracks can be too overwhelming and can sometimes be detrimental to the storyline. These days they're even infusing this overly dramatic music during true crime shows on television. It gets ridiculous. I love natural sound in film, especially the sound of the ocean or birdsong or crickets.

Moland  has repeatedly demonstrated that he loves being surrounded by trusted collaborators. "Calling Stellan all the time is a limit to my originality" the Scandinavian filmmaker jokes. "Every director who feels good with a cast dreams of working together again, exploring new characters. This is an uncertain craft, looking for the company of the people you trust, with whom you know you can work well together. I feel privileged to have this connection with Stellan. Having people around you that make you feel courageous is the greatest gift for a director." Regarding the preparation of the role, Stellan adds ironically: "Three months before I started to have a bad neck, then moved to the stomach, a month before I was cold and cold, all as usual".

As to why Stellan makes the perfect Trond in his film, Moland replies, "He carries a soulfulness that he doesn’t flaunt. He can play a reserved character and remain very interesting. That’s his gift as a human being and as an actor. He doesn’t rely on dialogue. Then, when we work, we enjoy making ourselves as brave as we can to make the movie as good as possible. He’s a generous and fine human being, wonderful with his colleagues and crew. It makes the working part easier. Stellan hasn’t much in common with his character Trond, as he’s a city slicker and the only time he gets close to nature is perhaps when he works with me! But he’s keenly interested in portraying people who are different than himself and does that with great skills."

In reviewing the film, Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter writes, "Skarsgård makes a thoughtful, reassuring first-person narrator. His mobile features react to the people and things around him but he never over-plays his hand... One of the pleasures of this extremely sensual film is the way it elicits physical sensations in the viewer through expressive camerawork, cutting and sound effects. Dramatic moments are signaled by a low rumbling like an avalanche arriving. While the ever-changing spectacle of nature filmed by cinematographer Rasmus Videbaek enchants the eye, it is intensified by Klaus Kaae’s sweetly original score."

Moland was also questioned about the comments Liam Neeson made when promoting the director's "Cold Pursuit", an American version of "In Order of Disappearance." Evidently Neeson told Britain's Independent newspaper last week that 40 years ago, upon hearing that a friend was allegedly raped by a black attacker, he wanted to "unleash physical violence" and walked the streets hoping to kill some "black bastard." In the wake of his remarks, Tuesday’s red carpet at the New York premiere of Moland’s revenge drama was canceled just hours before guests were to arrive.

Speaking today in Berlin, Stellan said: "I find it disturbing and frightening to live in a world where people get punished not only for their deeds, but they get punished also for what you say. You can get punished for what you think. But most of all you get punished for what people think you think." Moland said audiences should read Neeson's quotes in context rather than "listening to what is said on Twitter." He added: "I made a film about the futility of revenge. It makes fun of all the gangster stereotypes, all of the other kind of stereotypes you can think of. It’s a cautionary tale about revenge, and I’d like people to see it for that."

For all the photos from today's events, check out the Berlin gallery.


In an interview at the Berlin Film Festival today, Stellan admits his time at the famous European festival will be limited because he is presently filming in Trollhättan in Norwegian writer/director Maria Sødahl's film HÅP ("Hope"). Filming began on February 1. Maria happens to be the wife of Hans Petter Moland! She is shown on the left in the above photo with her two leads. Andrea Bræn Hovig plays Anja who comes back home for Christmas after an international tour with her dance company. Her life companion Tomas (Stellan), their three children, along with three older children from previous relationships, are all gathered in the pre-Christmas celebration when Anja suddenly finds out that she has a life-threatening brain metastasis. She and Tomas have a shaky relationship which is put to the test as both go through an emotional rollercoaster while looking for medical miracles.

The film is based on Maria's own experiences of being first affected by lung cancer and a year later by a brain tumor. Stellan emphasizes that this is not a documentary and not a portrait of Hans Petter Moland. He admits, "I wouldn't be able to play Hans Petter. He speaks so slowly." The film is set to premiere in October.

Tomorrow is the premiere of OUT STEALING HORSES at BIFF. This is the fifth film that Hans Petter Moland and Stellan have done together. Stellan often complains and jokes that Moland forces him to film when it is icy and it was the same this time. He indicates that the guy who plays his younger version lucked out with his scenes filmed in the summer while Stellan's scenes were done in the winter when he was freezing his ass off. Of course, Stellan is a veteran at Berlin's festival. He says, "We are just as old, and the first time I was here, it was my first film festival and I won the actor award for 'Den Enfaldige mördaren'".

Because an English-language remake of "In Order of Disappearance", renamed "Cold Pursuit" with Liam Neeson opens widely in theaters this weekend, Netflix has now made the original available. The story is quirky and often dryly amusing, recalling both the Coen brothers’ "Fargo" and Quentin Tarantino’s "Pulp Fiction". It’s chatty for a gangster picture, and while camera movements and framing are fairly non-flashy, the locations occasionally provide an extra comic kick. The film is filled with familiar faces from European cinema, including "Game of Thrones" Kristofer Hivju as an ill-fated mob henchman, Peter Andersson as Nils’ shady brother, and Bruno Ganz as a Serbian crime lord who swoops into town and escalates the shooting war. Personally, I loved the film so if you haven't seen it yet, give it a try!

It has just been announced that CHERNOBYL, the five-part mini-series about the catastrophic 1986 nuclear disaster, will be shown in May on Sky Atlantic in the UK and HBO in the US. Here is the first shot of Stellan in his role as  Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina, who is assigned by the Kremlin to lead the government commission on Chernobyl in the hours immediately following the accident. His hair makes him look Russian and very distinguished.

Alexander's upcoming film, "The Aftermath" will be premiering in the UK on March 1 and in the US on March 15th. Directed by James Kent, the love story is based on the novel of the same name. The film is set in postwar Germany in 1946. Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley) arrives in the ruins of Hamburg in the bitter winter to be reunited with her husband Lewis (Jason Clarke), a British colonel charged with rebuilding the shattered city. But as they set off for their new home, Rachael is stunned to discover that Lewis has made an unexpected decision: They will be sharing the grand house with its previous owners, a German widower (Alexander Skarsgård) and his troubled daughter. In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.

I try to avoid Keira Knightley films though I couldn't pass up the "Pirates" series and perhaps I'll give in to this one because of Alexander's presence. Ms. Knightley's continued struggle with anorexia greatly damages her believability in her roles and causes too much distraction to the story. The Telegraph once wrote that several critics believe she is often miscast - "It's hard to listen to what she's saying when all you want to do is feed her chips." [laughing] So true!

Here is an Italian poster of the film featuring just Alex. Yummy!

And I came across this photo shoot that I particularly like that was taken in Stockholm a couple years ago.

"The Hummingbird Project" will also debut on March 15th. The plot reads, "Cousins Vincent and Anton are players in the high-stakes game of high-frequency trading, where winning is measured in milliseconds. Their dream is to build a straight fiber-optic cable line between Kansas and New Jersey, making them millions, but nothing is straightforward for this flawed pair. Anton is the brains, Vincent is the hustler, and together they push each other and everyone around them to the breaking point with their daring adventure."