Inside Husavik’s Oscar Bid for a ‘Eurovision Track Contest’ Movie Anthem

HUSAVIK, Iceland — On a latest Monday, within the again room of an empty seaside resort right here, a bunch of locals gathered anxiously round a pc livestreaming the 93rd Academy Awards nominations, ready to find whether or not their campaigning had been profitable.

A bit after 1 p.m. got here the excellent news, and the residents heard the identify of their city stated in an American accent yet another time: “Husavik,” a track from the Netflix movie “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,” was nominated for finest authentic track.

The track will get its identify from this tiny coastal city — which can be house to the movie’s essential characters — and for weeks, residents had been working to get the track an Oscar nomination.

“I teared up” on listening to the information, stated Orlygur Orlygsson, 37, one of many campaigners gathered within the resort. “The film gave Husavik worldwide recognition, and we wanted to do the same for the song.” But he was nonetheless shocked by the nomination, he stated.

Among the many 2,300 individuals residing on this harbor city perched on Iceland’s northern coast, Orlygsson could be the highest-profile fan of “Fire Saga.” He owns a restaurant known as Ja Ja Ding Dong, named after a foolish track from the movie. And in February, when “Husavik” was one of many 15 tracks on the Academy’s longlist for finest track, Orlygsson began the marketing campaign to influence Academy members to appoint it.

“Fire Saga” tells the story of two musicians from Husavik, performed by Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. The pair — who’re “probably not” brother and sister — are chosen by default to signify Iceland within the Eurovision Track Contest after a ship carrying extra outstanding Icelandic singers explodes.

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Off they go into the world of “neon lights and billboards,” though in the long run they uncover that there’s no place like house. “Husavik” is their Eurovision act, the movie’s triumphant climax.

When the movie arrived on Netflix in June, critics weren’t impressed. Jeannette Catsoulis wrote in her evaluation for The New York Occasions that “this over-egged farce whips slapstick and cheese into an authentic soufflé of tastelessness.”

However followers of the Eurovision Track Contest — which attracts 200 million tv viewers annually — embraced the movie in a pandemic yr when the precise contest was canceled for the primary time since its inception in 1956. And as soon as the residents of Husavik started their on-line marketing campaign, 1000’s of these followers unfold the phrase on social media.

The marketing campaign includes a fictional Husavik resident named Oskar Oskarsson who, in a video posted to the marketing campaign’s web site, raves in regards to the city, the place the one factor lacking is “another Oskar.”

Within the tongue-in-cheek video, a lady pretends {that a} fish is an Oscar statue and residents depart items for elves to assist with the marketing campaign. “The people of Husavik are very excited,” says the marketing campaign’s web site.

The video has been seen as much as 200,000 instances throughout YouTube and social media platforms, the organizers stated.

The actor within the video is Sigurdur Illugason, an area home painter who’s now performing in the musical “Little Shop of Horrors” on the Husavik theater membership for a masked viewers of fifty.

Kristjan Magnusson, the mayor of Husavik, stated the marketing campaign’s essential worth was to raise the spirits of individuals within the city. “The fun of coming together for a big project is the most important thing,” he stated. “The rest is a bonus.”

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Molly Sanden, who sings on the observe for McAdams’s character, praised the individuals of Husavik for rallying behind the track. “The campaign shows the town has the heart and spirit the song is about,” she stated in a phone interview from her native Sweden.

She stated she hoped to go to Husavik as quickly because the pandemic is over to see the mountains, Northern Lights and sea gulls described within the track’s lyrics.

The lyrics may apply to most of Iceland’s coastal communities, and the track’s demo was written with Husavik as a spot holder earlier than the movie’s director and producers visited Iceland to resolve on a location to set their movie.

“I first heard a demo of the song when we were driving around Iceland scouting for locations,” stated Leifur Dagfinnsson, who manages the native manufacturing firm True North, which labored on “Fire Saga.”

The preliminary plan, he stated, was to discover a city on the southern half of the island close to Reykjavik, the capital, to save cash on transportation. Husavik is nearer to the Arctic Circle and had by no means been the placement for a global movie manufacturing.

However the robust demo that includes Husavik tipped the stability in favor of the northern city.

“Husavik is easier to pronounce than other Icelandic town names,” Dagfinnsson stated. That gave it a transparent benefit lyrics-wise over Stykkisholmur (Stikk-is-hohlm-ur), a city that he stated “would have made sense from a budgetary point of view.”

In Husavik, whale-watching boats outnumber fishing vessels and — opposite to the city in “Fire Saga” — it has half a dozen bars.

Tourism is the city’s essential business, and a part of the rationale a bunch of adults have had the time to marketing campaign for the track is the widespread underemployment introduced on by the pandemic. The residents hope vacationers might be singing the city’s identify into their vehicles’ GPS now that Iceland is permitting vaccinated international guests.

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Leonardo Piccione, an Italian artist who lives in Husavik, famous that the tiny city had related “two of the greatest television events on the planet,” including, “That’s something to work with, I think.”

The campaigners hope to construct on the publicity of the Oscar nomination to open a Eurovision museum subsequent to the Ja Ja Ding Dong cafe, with memorabilia from Icelandic contestants who’ve by no means gained the competitors. And, after all, they may launch extra movies of Oskar Oskarsson when Academy members start voting subsequent month.

Broadly predicted to win finest authentic track is “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami” or the Golden Globe winner “Io Si (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead.” Additionally nominated are “Fight for You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” the third Netflix movie within the class.

Win or lose, “Husavik” is now a part of the material of the city right here. The native soccer workforce, the Volsungs, blasts the soundtrack earlier than matches, and the youngsters’s choir commonly performs the Icelandic a part of the track.

Savan Kotecha, an govt producer of “Fire Saga,” co-wrote the lyrics to the track utilizing Google Translate for the Icelandic strains and Google avenue view to get a way of the city.

“It didn’t occur to me the song would come to have a special meaning for the people there,” he stated in an interview. “Now, in all sincerity, we want to win for Husavik.”