“Smile” Film Honours Life Of Thor Hansen

By Ben Hamill - February 09 2021
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Smile Film Honours Life Of Thor Hansen

A new Poker documentary seeks to celebrate the life and career of a man believe is worthy of induction into the Poker Hall of Fame: the man hailed the “Godfather of Norwegian Poker”, Thor Hansen. A documentary by filmmakers Linn Amundsen and Kari Wåle, “Smile” honors Hansen’s journey through Poker and through life, and with a specific look at his later life while dealing with terminal cancer.

Hansen, who in 2018 died at the age of 71 after a protracted fight with the dreaded disease, remained active on the felt even while battling with illness. He did this with exceptional bravery, and in such a way that only those close to him were even aware of the battle he had been fighting with his health.

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How It All Came To Be

But what had inspired the makers of the film to create a documentary-style film about the life and times of Hansen?

Filmmaker Linn Amundsen says she first met the Norwegian great back in 2015 at the country’s only legal annual Poker tournament. Staged that year in Oslo, Amundsen was doing advertising work for the Norwegian blood cancer society. The filmmaker explains that since the type of work she did involved screening short films among people interested in the game, she and fellow filmmaker Kari Wåle naturally became interested in creating something based on the game itself.

Amundsen explains that once they started enquiring around in the hopes of finding two actors, they soon came across a name that repeatedly came up in several Poker society circles: the name of Thor Hansen, the “Godfather” of Norwegian Poker. And so came to be a film starring a truly enigmatic Poker player wishing to make a difference for the blood cancer association.

He Lived Life Fully

Inspiring to the filmmakers had been the way in which Hansen had chosen to lead his life, which was to do so to the fullest and with incredible enthusiasm – even in the face of incredible difficulties.

Amundsen and Wåle first showed the film in Dublin in 2019, during that year’s Norwegian Poker Championship. Amundsen says many of the people who watched the film at that particular event actually personally knew Thor, including the Poker legend’s wife, Marcella. It had been a touching and inspiring experience, said the filmmaker, and Hansen’s presence could be tangibly felt in the room.

Poker fans interested in watching Smile, the film based on the inspirational life of Norwegian Poker “Godfather” and legendary great Thor Hansen, can do so on Vimeo.

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