Quo Vado? That’s not a question, but the name of the film that is currently smashing all box office records in Italy. Millions of Italians are flocking to the theatres, to be treated with a good laugh – and what we imagine must be seen as some rather exotic locations.
That’s not to say that most Norwegians have been to Svalbard, either – a key location in the film, directed by Gennaro Nunziante.
It stars Checco Zalone as an official employee who, when he declines a severance package, is relocated to Italy’s polar research facility at this far-northern, Norwegian archipelago.
Svalbard is wild and frigid, located midway between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole. The cold environment is no hindrance for a warm heart, though, as Checco falls in love with the polar researcher Valeria (played by Eleonora Giovanardi) and follows her back to the mainland. More specifically, to the beautiful, coastal city of Bergen.
In an Italian newspaper, when asked what he enjoyed the most when making Quo Vado?, Nunziante replied: “To experience the atmosphere of Bergen, this extremely beautiful Norwegian city.”
The mountains and fjords around Bergen are world famous. But we are still, perhaps, waiting for a film to capture these Norwegian landscapes like “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy did for New Zealand. One film to rule them all, one might say.
At least Quo Vado? is ruling the Italian box office: The film is currently on track to dethroning Avatar as the all-time top grossing film in Italian cinemas, according to Screen Daily.
“For millions of Italians, Svalbard and Bergen are now becoming places they know and that they may place on a map,” says Sigmund Elias Holm from the Western Norway Film Commission, who introduced the production to Bergen. “I think that can have a big impact on tourism,” he adds.
When it comes to nature and geography, Norway is rather unique, and more and more filmmakers are opening their eyes to the fact.
“The last big film that was shot here was Ex Machina, which filmed at Juvet Landscape Hotel,” says the Film Commissioner, Sigmund Elias Holm. This sci-fi thriller, written and directed by Alex Garland, is already hailed as a smart, modern sci-fi classic, and is competing for two Oscars at the 2016 Academy Awards.
“That striking location, and the part it played in the film, got lots of attention in international media,” says Holm, who hopes the film will inspire other filmmakers to discover Norway as a location. Also, Norway recently introduced an incentive program for foreign filmmakers coming here to shoot films.
As for Quo Vado?, the Italian hit film also takes place in the south-eastern Italian town of Conversano. According to a recent, local newspaper report, its citizens have started a petition to arrange for the mayors of Conversano and Bergen to meet – and to establish these as twin towns.
Bergen is Norway's second largest city, and lies clambering up the mountain sides, overlooking the sea, embracing you. You can roam through living history in this modern city, before continuing on to explore the wildest and loveliest fjords of Norway.
The Svalbard Islands are located in the Arctic Ocean, halfway between Norway and the North Pole. Here, you will find untouched arctic wilderness and unique wildlife in a setting that is both rugged and fragile at the same time.