Denmark’s Maja Jul Larsen has bested strong opposition to take this year’s Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize for DR’s “Cry Wolf,” Larsen’s first series as a creator and lead-writer.
The win, announced at a Göteborg Festival TV Drama Vision award ceremony on Tuesday, goes to one of the rising stars on Denmark’s screenwriting scene who in a relatively short career – she graduated from Denmark’s National Film School in 2007 – has run an up an impressive curriculum working on “Borgen,” “Follow the Money” and “The Legacy.”
With limited series “Cry Wolf,” a family drama and procedural, she faced the large task of breathing life and a sense of entertainment into an eight-part series that works at times as an exposé of the rigidity and potential failing of Denmark’s social welfare system.
That’s achieved by focusing on one case: Holly, 14, writes a vivid school essay about suffering aggravated assault at the hands of Simon, her step-father. Called in to talk to Holly, social worker Lars decides very quickly to place her and her younger brother in care.
In its opening episodes, the series plays with a did-he-or-didn’t-he suspense, while broadening out to a reflection about the difficulty of ever knowing the truth in many such cases, where the wrecking of a family often depends on a social worker’s gut instinct.
“It was very important for us to get this crime part of the show up and running,” Larsen told Variety. “It’s naturally interesting when there’s a mystery and investigation, and we knew that was very important in order to lure viewers.
Heavily grounded in a specific reality, and set during a splendid Danish summer, in genre terms, the series plays out like a procedural which questions its own procedure while suggesting that no crime may have been committed at all.
The 2021 Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize jury was made up of Ran Tellem, (“Homeland,” “The Head”), The Mediapro Studio head of international content development; Felicia Elisabeth Jackson, best known as director of Aarhus Series; and Swedish actor Evin Ahmad (“The Rain,” “Beyond Dreams”).
“We are in a time where we are bombarded with content, so we looked for the unique story. This one was super smart, super intelligent with complex characters – who seem normal and dysfunctional at the same time,” the jury said in a prepared statement.
“There is no black-and-white in this show. The characters contain both good and evil,” it went on, observing that the series “focuses on what a family will do to survive, and how hard it can be for a social worker to protect children and their rights to a good childhood. This is public service as its best.”
The Nordisk Film & TV Prize adds another feather to the cap of a series which was selected for main competition at last year’s Series Mania, won the Golden Eye for best series at Zurich, outperformed audience expectations when it bowed on Danish public broadcaster DR in October, averaging over one million viewers, and sold well to key territories.