Downsizing Opens Venice

In his biggest budget and most ambitious film to date, Alexander Payne stages a timely and timeless social satire, introducing Norway to the silver screen with Matt Damon in the lead role.

Rolf Lassgård plays a radical scientist from Bergen, Norway, who cooks up an unconventional solution to a world facing resource shortages. Deep in the Norwegian fjords, Lassgård and his wife (Ingjerd Egeberg) establishes the world's first community for downsized people. 

The film finds Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig some years later playing a struggling Nebraskan couple who buy into the shrinking plan. With their moderate savings, Damon and Wiig are told they can become suburban barons and splurge in material happiness, if only they undergo the radical procedure.  

Partly shot in Bergen and Trollfjorden, the premiere marks a pivotal moment for Norway as a top tier filmmaking destination. Downsizing is the first film backed by Norway's new cash rebate. The August 2016 shoot was powered by over a hundred Norwegians behind the camera, led by line producer Per Henry Borch and Leifur B Dagfinnsson for Truenorth. 

Downsizing confronts current issues such as ecological sustainability, immigration and materialism. -It takes something inherently absurd, but tells it with utter earnestness. I’m not interested in the science fiction feeling; I always aspire to make a Hal Ashby or a Robert Altman movie. We’re more interested in making human films. Downsizing is an interesting prism through which to view our times, says Alexander Payne to Entertainment Weekly.

Downsizing features an international all-star cast, with Kristen Wiig (of Norwegian descent), Laura Dern, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Hong Chau, Norway's Ingjerd Egeberg, Pepe Serna, Sweden's Rolf Lassgård, Udo Kier, Margo Martindale, Neil Patrick Harris, and Brigette Lundy-Paine in supporting roles. 

Alesund-based Orange Aerial provided the aerial services for the Trollfjorden shoot.

Opening Venice firmly positions Downsizing as one of the top contenders in this year’s Oscars race. Venice has become a major launchpad for the awards season, world premiering Damien Chazelle's La La Land and Tom McCarthy's Spotlight in 2016. Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman, Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity and Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan have opened the festival in years past. 

Payne is no stranger to Academy Awards having won best adapted screenplay for The Descendants and Sideways, and nominations for best achievement in directing for Nebraska, The Descendants and Sideways. The Downsizing script is penned by Alexander Payne and his long-time collaborator Jim Taylor. Downsizing also reunites Payne with his cinematographer of choice Phedon Papamichael and editor Kevin Tent, and marks his first collaboration with production designer Stefania Cella (Black Mass, Paolo Sorrentino's La Grande Bellezza). 

Trollfjorden by Marius Fiskum / Visit Vesteralen

Trollfjorden by Marius Fiskum / Visit Vesteralen

Payne and his crew worked on location and in studios in Los Angeles and Toronto, in Payne's native Omaha, and in Trollfjorden, Norway. In Norway the hotel ship Edda Fides served as a floating production base travelling with the production to the no-road-access fjord location. The mostly marine shoot was handled by Truenorth's new branch in Norway. Truenorth was established in 2003, and has previously offered production services in Iceland for films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Batman BeginsFlags of Our Fathers, Prometheus, Noah, Oblivion and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. 

In addition to Downsizing, Norway’s recent foreign productions include The Snowman starring Michael Fassbender which filmed in Bergen, Oslo and Rjukan, the Academy Award winning Ex Machina which shot at the Juvet Landscape Hotel, and episodes for drama series Shetland and Berlin Station.