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Freedom of Expression Prize for 2013 awarded to Per Fugelli

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Press Release - 20 February 2013

The decision of the Board of Trustees of the Fritt Ord Foundation is based on the following grounds:

"Per Fugelli is awarded the Freedom of Expression Foundation Prize for 2013 for having given a voice to cancer patients and those who stand face to face with death."

The Freedom of Expression Prize is the institution's highest distinction. The amount of the prize is NOK 400 000. The prize is accompanied by the Fritt Ord Foundation statuette made by Nils Aas. The award ceremony will take place at 7.00 p.m. on Tuesday, 14 May 2013, at the Norwegian Opera & Ballet, Stage 2, in Oslo.

Based on his own experiences and illness after being diagnosed with cancer in 2009, Per Fugelli has helped open up a discussion about what it means to be seriously ill. With wisdom and generosity, he has drawn attention to our fears of talking about death and how we repress such thoughts. As Fugelli puts it: "Today's society needs to 'release death from the prison of banned words". Among other works, he has written the following book on this topic: Death, shall we dance? (2010), which has proved a welcome contribution to candour about death in life.

As a general practitioner, Per Fugelli has been an independent critic of his own profession for many years. He has opposed the bureaucratisation of Norwegian health care institutions. Fugelli takes a humanistic approach to health and social policy, focussing on the entire individual. He has shown that the best "social medicine" is to build up and share dignity with vulnerable groups such as ethnic minorities, the poor and those who are physically challenged. Through countless lectures and fearless participation in a large number of important debates, he has been a prominent contributor to Norway's public space fora for a long time.

Born in Stavanger in 1943, Per Fugelli is currently a professor of Social Medicine at the University of Oslo. Before moving to Oslo in 1992, he was a professor of General Practice at the University of Bergen. Fugelli has also worked as a medical officer in Lofoten and in Finnmark County in the far north of Norway. In addition to Death, shall we dance? (2010), he has published the book The Enough Point. Essays on health and dignity (2008), The 0 Vision. Essays on health and freedom (2003), Red prescription. Essays on perfection, performance and health (1999) and The patient Norway. Studies in political pathology (1994). Per Fugelli had a seat on the steering group of Norway's National Value Commission.

The Fritt Ord Foundation's Board is comprised of Georg Fr. Rieber-Mohn (Chair), Grethe Brochmann (Deputy Chair), Christian Bjelland, Liv Bliksrud, Guri Hjeltnes, Frank Rossavik and Sigrun Slapgard.

The Fritt Ord Foundation is a private non-profit foundation that aspires to promote freedom of expression and public debate.

For information about the previous prize laureates.


Photo: Charlotte Holst Fugelli



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Supported projects – examples

The Democracy Festival 2014
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Three former prime ministers and six recipients of the Fritt Ord Prize will be on stage at Demokratifestivalen on Eidsvoll, Saturday 13 September.

Per Fugelli, Abid Raja, Anne Sender, Nina Karin Monsen, Anders Sømme Hammer and Bushra Ishaq participate in what might be the most important conversation of this year’s celebration of the Norwegian Constitution’s 200th anniversary. Together will moderator Håvard Kleppa they will discuss the costs associated with freedom of speech.

The programme can be found here. The Fritt Ord Foundation has provided NOK 50 000 in support of the festival.

Support for documentary films

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There were eight documentary films among the projects that were approved for Fritt Ord Foundation funding in August. Among them, Colorbar was granted NOK 150 000 for the production of "The last dose", in which the director Hilde Stålskjær Olsen shadows the former drug-abuser Siri as she makes her way out of drug-assisted rehabilitation. Motlys received NOK 100 000 to work with Paulina Cervenka's documentary film "Wanja" (picture) about a woman suffering from the fatal disease ALS. Further, NOK 200 000 was granted to Fenomen TV film og scene for the production of "The Lady from Os", directed by Pål Winsents - a sequel to the documentary "The Girl from Oz" (2006) about mentally challenged Christina.

A list has now been published of the grants awarded by the Fritt Ord Foundation in August 2014.

Photo exhibition - Pushwagner
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Petter Mejlænder's photo exhibition "Pushwagner" will be on display at Gallery Fineart at Tjuvholmen in Oslo from 28 August to 14 September 2014. The photo exhibition is being shown in tandem with Pushwagner's sales exhibition "Movement". The exhibitions will be opened by Mayor Fabian Stang at 6 p.m. on Thursday, 28 August.

In working with the photographs and on Pushwagner's biography, Petter Mejlænder followed the artist's activities closely for seven years. In connection with the exhibition, Mejlænder's photo book about Pushwagner will also be launched. The Fritt Ord Foundation has provided NOK 50 000 in support for the photo exhibition and NOK 75 000 for the biography (a work in progress).