The Amanda Award (Amandaprisen) is an award given annually at the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund, Norway, to promote and improve Norwegian film. The award originated in 1985, and has since 2005 been exclusively a film award (not television). Winners are awarded a trophy by the Norwegian sculptor Kristian Kvakland, and the name—and theme—of the sculpture comes from a legendary local woman from the 1920s. The award ceremony is marked every year by a major, nationally televised, event.
The Amanda Award was instituted in 1985 as part of the Norwegian International Film Festival "to increase the quality of and further the interest for Norwegian films". The year 1993 marked an exception to the norm, when the so-called "Nordic Amanda" included contribution from all the Nordic countries. From 2005 onwards, TV-drama was no longer included among the categories honoured, as the TV-specific award "Gullruten" had taken over this function. Instead the award became exclusively for films. Around the same time another change occurred also. Since the beginning, the award ceremony had been produced in cooperation with the Norwegian state broadcasting corporation Norsk rikskringkasting (NRK). In 2006, however, NRK ended the partnership, and the show has since that time been the responsibility of the private broadcasting company TV 2.
In the year 2007, a "People's Amanda" ("Folket's Amanda") was awarded for the first time, where the winner was arrived at by popular vote. The first winner of the award was the horror movie Fritt Vilt, directed by Roar Uthaug.
The name "Amanda" is derived from a song, or sea shanty, titled "Amanda fra [from] Haugesund". Supposedly the song in turn refers to a real woman from the 1920s – a lone mother who made a living from selling liquor to sailors during the prohibition period.
The figurine that is awarded to prize winners originated from a competition held by the local newspaper Haugesunds Avis in 1985, to create a sculpture of the legendary Amanda. The competition was won by Kristian Kvakland from Nesodden in Akershus. The full-size sculpture now stands outside the newspaper's office, but a miniature version was adopted as a trophy for the Amanda Award. The figurine is 30 cm (11.81 in) tall, with a skirt measuring 14 cm (5.51 in) in diameter. While the current sculpture is hollow and weighs 2.5 kg (5.51 lbs), for the first few years it was made of solid metal. Weighing in at 4.5 kg (9.92 lbs) it was difficult to hoist for many winners.
It was one of these prizes that, in the year 1986, was won by director Anja Breien, who decided to sell it through a newspaper advert, as a protest against that year's budget cuts for Norwegian film. The Swedish Film Institute, which had experienced similar cuts and sympathized, bought the sculpture. In 2005, as Breien was presented with an honorary award, she was also given back the original sculpture by former Minister of Culture and director of the Swedish Film Institute, Åse Kleveland.
The award show has long been a central point of the film festival, as well as a major television event for the whole of Norway. Particularly in earlier years, international stars were sometimes brought in to enhance the prestige of the event. Examples of this are Roger Moore, who was a special guest at the very first ceremony in 1985, and Diana Ross in 1987, then married to Norwegian entrepreneur Arne Næss, Jr.
The show has in recent years been hosted by prominent Norwegian comedians. Jon Almaas, known from the TV-show "Nytt på nytt", played host for several years in the early 2000s. Thomas Giertsen, known as a stand-up comedian and from several TV-shows, has hosted the show in recent years. An episode that received some media attention in 2005 was when host Marit Åslein and Minister of Culture and Church Affairs from the Christian conservative party KrF, Valgerd Svarstad Haugland, kissed on stage as part of a humorous routine.
As of 2008, the categories awarded were: