The Fritt Ord Tribute 2020
Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune

Film-makers Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune will be awarded the Freedom of Expression Foundation Tribute for the TV series July 22nd, an eminent artistic contribution to critical reflection about the tragic event that occurred in Norway on 22 July 2011. The protagonists of this drama series are the people who worked at key institutions in Norway, a welfare state based on the rule of law: the public health service, the media, the school system, the church and politics.

“The film-makers’ assessment of the institutions’ importance under extraordinary circumstances, seen through the eyes of ordinary workers, gives insight into aspects of the Norwegian system that have been brought to the fore once again during the corona crisis in 2020. While both crises underscore the importance of smoothly functioning, strong, trust-based structures at critical times, they also reveal a lack of emergency preparedness, systems failure and national vulnerability”, comments Grete Brochmann, chair of the Fritt Ord Foundation Board.

The six episodes of the TV drama series July 22nd were aired on NRK in January and February 2020 to rave reviews. Spouses Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune created the series together, with Johnsen as the main script writer and Sletaune bearing the main responsibility for directing. The series was produced by NRK, with Elisabeth Tangen and Ivar Køhn as producers. July 22nd was made in collaboration with SVT, DR, YLE and RUV.

Sara Johnsen (50)

Johnsen is a film director and writer. Her background is from the Norwegian Film School in Lillehammer, and she began her directing career with the short films The Heaven Stormer (1999) and Hormones and Other Demons (2000), as well as the episode Boundless Love in the series Most people live in China (2002). Her cinematic début Winter Kiss (2005) won the Film Critics’ Prize the following year. Her second feature film, Upperdog (2009), received both the Amanda Prize for best motion picture and the Film Critics’ Prize the next year. In 2012, she made Innocence and in 2016, Rosemari. In addition, Johnsen has published a collection of short stories entitled He knows about something she can try (2004). In 2008, Johnsen made his début as a novelist with White Man. (Source: Store norske leksikon,

Pål Sletaune (60)

Sletaune is a director and scriptwriter whose main purviews are film and TV. He first gained acclaim with short films like The Bingo Place (1992) and Eating Out (1994). His feature film début The Messenger (1997) earned an Amanda Prize for best motion picture, then gained international momentum. It achieved distribution in more than 60 countries, receiving a number of international awards, not least at the film festivals in Cannes, Stockholm, Ghent and Tokyo. Since then, Sletaune has written and directed the burlesque comedy The Amateurs (2001) and the film noir Neighbours (2005). Babycall (2011), which he both wrote and directed, won an Amanda Prize for best manuscript. On stage, he has directed Harold Pinter’s Ashes to Ashes (National Theatre 2005) and Mark Ravenhill’s The Product (Our Theatre 2008). (Source: Store norske leksikon,

The Fritt Ord Tribute

The Fritt Ord Tribute consists of a prize of NOK 100 000, accompanied by a crystal vase. This recognition is awarded by the Fritt Ord Foundation Board for invaluable activities in the service of free speech, preferably in connection with current issues. The Fritt Ord Foundation Board also awards the Fritt Ord Prize.

The award ceremony for Sara Johnsen and Pål Sletaune took place on 27 May 2020 at the Fritt Ord Foundation’s premises. The event was streamed, then published in video format on Fritt Ords YouTube-channel.