It was a chilly Saturday morning in February, but the queue of people snaking around from the entrance of the Old Truman Brewery and onto the nearby Brick Lane in East London told its own story. We would appear to have become rather smitten with our Scandinavian Euro-cousins and their drama in recent years.
Packaged under the umbrella term ‘Nordic Noir’, it has clearly become a significant cult movement. In fact, such has been the exponential year-on-year growth in popularity that you’d be forgiven for thinking that a few more series of the Bridge, Borgen or the Killing released on box set would kick the economy well and truly out of any austerity doldrums.
Last weekend, following on from last summer’s inaugural event, welcomed the second two-day Nordicana festival to these shores.
The event promised so much. Sadly, despite bearing all the right ingredients, it didn’t deliver.
Yet, the failure of Nordicana must go down in the records as an admirable one. It is a hard lesson in learning the importance of executing the final phase well. After all, a lot of the preparatory hard work had been wonderfully fulfilled. The team had succeeded in attracting the big names. The staff were personable. The line-up boasted the cream of the Nordic crop and plenty of exclusives.
Even the Old Truman Brewery had the potential for apt mood setting. The old white stained stone walls and meandering passageways suggested a sinister portent that would have had you expecting Sarah Lund was creeping around, gun in hand.
Unfortunately, the slightly decrepit antiquated state of the environment was nothing on the shambolic technological issues experienced.
An early morning cast and crew talk on the political drama, Borgen, was besieged by microphone problems. It is a particular pity, because this is one of the most oversubscribed talks that this writer has ever bore witness (only possibly matched by the Bridge talk later on the Saturday).
It is fair to say that the first day was the most chaotic. The Sunday was a vast improvement. The venue was not so overcrowded and the technology was considerably more compliant (even if the Old Truman Brewery remained particularly cold). The screening of new Danish export, The Legacy tantalised as to its potential to join the pantheon of great Nordic drama. On the evidence of the exclusive Nordicana broadcast of the first episode, it is well worth investigating further.
It would be easy to criticise this event, but it is a young festival finding its feet. It would be a travesty to see it go to the festival graveyard. There is an appetite for its subject matter and once the lessons from this year are learnt, we are sure to be welcomed with a vastly improved celebration of Scandinavian export next year.
Nordicana took place on 1st and 2nd February 2014.