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Norway bested Belgium and Sweden for the top drama honor at the 2015 Prix Italia, winning with The Heavy Water War.

The Heavy Water War (Kampen om Tungtvannet) aka Saboteurs
The Heavy Water War (Kampen om Tungtvannet) aka Saboteurs © Filmkameratene

Belgian mockumentary/comedy The Biker Boys (De Biker Boys), Norwegian historical drama/thriller The Heavy Water War (Kampen om Tungtvannet), and Swedish crime drama/mystery Jordskott were in contention in the Best TV Drama-Series and Serials category at the 67th Prix Italia, and Norway took the prize.

The Heavy Water War, better known as Saboteurs when it screened earlier this year on Channel 4’s More4 in the UK, centers on Germany’s secret nuclear project and the Allies’ efforts to prevent Hitler from developing the atomic bomb during World War II.

Three storylines are interwoven through the six-part drama: the quest by ambitious German scientist Werner Heisenberg to get his hands on the heavy water necessary to produce a nuclear bomb for Hitler; the sabotage missions undertaken by Leif Tronstad and Norwegian and British soldiers, who risked their lives to prevent Hitler from having an atomic bomb; and the dilemmas faced by Erik Henriksen, the Managing Director of Norsk Hydro’s Vemork, the sole producer of heavy water whose factory is being occupied by the Germans.

The top-notch cast includes the award-winning German actor Christoph Bach (Tatort, Marie’s Mind for Murder), who stars as Nobel Prize winner in Physics Werner Heisenberg; Norway’s award-winning Espen Klouman Høiner (Mammon, Reprise) as Leif Tronstad, the Norwegian scientist who helped build the Vemork heavy water production plant before fleeing to England and becoming a crucial member of the Nazi resistance; and Norwegian actor Dennis Storhøi (Mammon, Nobel) as (the fictitious) Erik Henriksen.

Also featuring in The Heavy Water War are Oscar® nominee Søren Pilmark (1864, The Killing) as Danish Nobel Prize winner in Physics Niels Bohr, Golden Globes® nominee Anna Friel (American Odyssey, Pushing Daisies) as (the fictitious) English Captain Julie Smith; Pip Torrens (Poldark, Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond) as British Intelligence Officer John Skinner Wilson; Maibritt Saerens (The Legacy, The Half Brother) as Henriksen’s wife Ellen; and International Emmy® Awards nominee Stein Winge (1001 Grams, Norwegian Cozy) as Director-General of Norsk Hydro Axel Aubert.

(The story of the factory’s sabotage was previously dramatized in The Heroes of Telemark, the 1965 feature film starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris.)

Written by Petter Rosenlund (Codename Hunter) and directed by Per-Olav Sørensen (The Half Brother), the multi-language (Norwegian, English, German, and Danish) The Heavy Water War is a co-production of Norway’s Filmkameratene and NRK, Denmark’s Sebasto Film, the UK’s Headline Pictures, and Sweden’s SF Film.

A hit in its native Norway and in the UK, The Heavy Water War will premiere in the US on the subscription VoD service MHz Choice.


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The Heavy Water War: Norwegian Drama Wins Big at Prix Italia