Elle Sofe Sara awarded the Telenor Culture Prize 2023

7 minute read
Foto: TSFotoDesign/Tanja Skoglund
Foto: TSFotoDesign/Tanja Skoglund

Telenor Culture Prize 2023 is awarded choreographer, director, and filmmaker Elle Sofe Sara.

Elle Sofe Sara is a transparent carrier of traditions, someone who invites us to see new connections between what has been and what is, between what we have and could have had, between who we are, who we have been and could have become. She pulls us and nature in, and onto, the stage, and through movement, voice, images, and music she creates a whole that criticizes, challenges, and comforts – all at the same time. In all her works, she builds bridges between people and time, between audience and stage. In an immediate and tangible aesthetic style, she reduces the space between stage and hall.

“I am really honoured to be awarded the Telenor Culture Prize for 2023. This is tremendous encouragement for me to continue to engage with my audiences and pushing forward with my artistic work. I want to thank the jury, and Telenor, and everyone who has contributed to my many projects over the years,” said Elle Sofe Sara.

Clear Aesthetic Message

“Elle Sofe Sara is an artist who really transcends boundaries. She is a choreographer, a director, and a filmmaker – and to all her productions she brings a lot of playfulness and curiosity as she continues to combine different elements to great effect. She is unafraid to challenge established ideas about the limitations of the performing arts and remains eager to explore new ways of engaging with her audiences. At the same time most of her work is anchored in a natural landscape to which she remains closely connected. Elle Sofe Sara is a unique artist – who always manages to surprise us – while also creating an experience that can be shared by everyone,” said Martin Eia-Revheim, Head of the Jury.

In its justification, the Telenor Culture Prize Jury also highlights Elle Sofe Sara’s clear aesthetic message, and her creative approach, which crosses the borders of artistic expressions.

The Telenor Vision

The Telenor Culture Prize – “Boundless Communication” has since 1995 honoured Scandinavian artists and institutions who break through boundaries in music, film, literature, visual arts, and performing arts. The annual prize of NOK 500,000 is awarded to established artists as well as upcoming talents.

“An important part of our work at Telenor is about exploring new ways of communicating – and we are constantly on the lookout for people who do things differently. Elle Sofe Sara does things her own way. She challenges her audiences to rethink the ways in which we receive and process what appears in front of our eyes. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of Telenor’s Culture Prize 2023. Congratulations to Elle Sofe,” said Sigve Brekke, President and CEO of Telenor Group.

Critically Acclaimed Productions

Elle Sofe Sara has created a substantial series of critically acclaimed productions abroad and at home and has received several prestigious awards.

The production Vástádus eana – The answer is land – thematizes community and kinship between people and with nature. Sara herself describes the work as a “loving demonstration for our earth”.

The performance Birget; ways to deal, ways to heal is an artistic reaction to the Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Birget is the Sami expression for mastering an environment in constant change. The performance is nominated to the Norwegian Critics’ Association’s Critics’ Award in Dance, an award Elle Sofe Sara previously won for her production Vástádus eana – The answer is land.

In 2019, she received the Moon Jury Prize at the Imagine Native Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto for her film Ribadit.

In Norway, her productions have been programmed at large and prestigious venues and festivals, such as the Norwegian Opera & Ballet, Dansens Hus and Bergen International Festival. Elle Sofe Sara’s plans for the next few years are mainly set: The list of tour dates abroad is getting longer by the day, and in 2025 the motion picture ÁRRU, a yoik musical, will be launched.

The Jury of 2023

The Telenor Culture Prize 2023 jury consists of Martin Eia-Revheim, Project Manager at Sparebankstiftelsen DNB and Head of the Jury; Lars Saabye Christensen, Author; Ingrid Lorentzen, Artistic Director of the National Ballet; Henrik Mestad, Actor; Alexandra Archetti Stølen, Festival Manager at Oslo World; and Randi Winnem Due, Vice President and Head of Corporate Events at Telenor Group.

About the Culture Prize

Telenor’s Culture Prize – “Boundless Communication” is a key element of the Telenor Culture Programme. The programme aims to bring together artists from different genres and cultures and to highlight exciting cultural expression that creates diversity, engagement, and unique meeting places.

You can read more about Telenor’s Culture Programme and previous recipients of Telenor’s Culture Prize at Telenor.com.