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The Weinsteins Sail with ‘Kon-Tiki,’ Norway’s Oscar Entry

The Weinsteins Sail with 'Kon-Tiki,' Norway's Oscar Entry

The Weinstein Co. has acquired from Hanway Films “Kon-Tiki” distribution rights for the US, Canada, UK, and Italy. The film, which recently played at AFI FEST, is Norway’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar and screened at Toronto earlier this fall.

Co-directed by Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning, “Kon-Tiki” tracks the 1947 expedition of anthropologist and explorer Thor Heyerdahl during his sailing journey from South America to the Polynesian Islands on a wooden raft.

The $16.1 million film is Norway’s most expensive production to date, and has already grossed more than $13.4 million there. “Kon-Tiki” stars Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen, and was written by Petter Skavlan. The Weinsteins will release the film in 2013.

Here’s a selection from our AFI FEST review:

Norway’s Oscar entry and enjoyably supersized “Kon-Tiki” follows the real-life adventures of explorer Thor Heyerdahl, who, in 1947, embarked on an eccentric mission across the Pacific Ocean, from Peru to Polynesia, on a wooden raft. His goal was to prove that Polynesia had been discovered and settled by ancient Peruvians, and not by Asians, as went the leading scientific belief. “The oceans aren’t barriers, but highways,” says Heyerdahl (Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen) in the film.

Heyerdahl assembles a ragtag team of raftsmen, including a recently divorced refrigerator salesman who understands ship mechanics, two sailors (one a ladies’ man, the other a taciturn WWII veteran) and, importantly, a man with a movie camera. Silent, flickery black-and-white sequences pop up periodically in the film, mimicking the actual 8mm footage shot by Heyerdahl and his crew while onboard the raft. The real footage became the documentary that would win Heyerdahl an Academy Award in 1950. [more…]

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