It was during the Cannes Film Festival, eight years ago that the idea for a “Scandinavian Film Festival” was born when the Palace Festival Team attended the Scandinavian Terrace. The plan was to present the very best cinema from the Nordic countries.
The festival faithfully showcases films from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, as well as cinema releases selected from international film festivals and markets such as Göteborg, Cannes and Berlin.
Festival Director Elysia Zeccola said: “We emerge from hibernation with a stunning selection of the best new Nordic cinema, including award-winning films direct from the 2021 Göteborg Film Festival, featuring the brightest stars from the region”.
The 2021 programme includes several international festival favourites and award-winners making up twenty-one Australian premieres, highlighting the diversity and sophistication of the region that goes beyond just ‘Nordic noir’.
A selection from each include
THE COUNTY: from Iceland
This little-man-fights-back drama/ comedy about a dairy farmer’s wife who takes on the corrupt local co-op is reminiscent of so many difficulties that face rural communities around the world.
After losing her husband Reynir (Hinrik Ólafsson), in a confusing road accident Inga (Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir) feels trapped by her increasing debt, that is continually influenced by the monopoly over the milk they produce and the cost of their groceries which are all controlled by the local farmer Co-op.
It all comes to a confronting situation when she rallies other disgruntle farmers to form their own independent association.
WILDLAND: from Denmark
One of the unmissable highlights is the festival opener, Jeanette Nordahl’s striking Scandi-noir Wildland.
Set in Denmark’s underbelly, the story follows a somewhat gullible teenage girl the shy 17-year-old Ida ( Sandra Guldberg Kampp )who after losing her mother in a car accident, is placed in the care of an estranged relative her aunt Bodil (Sidse Babett Knudsen), who just happens to be the head of the family crime syndicate.
With the family first appearing kind and loving Ida soon learns that they are not only dysfunctional but that they have many unsavory secrets in their family closet. This is a compelling drama peppered with many moral and emotional dilemmas.
GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: from Finland
Games People Play is a comedy highlighting the calamity of attempting to be forever young. Featuring a star-studded cast of Finnish talent with (Laura Birn) as Veronika and (Christian Hillborg) as Mikael.
The story follows eight friends who reunite to celebrate Mitzi’s (Emmi Parviainen) surprise 40th birthday party. Their summer weekend at an idyllic Finnish seaside villa – just like when they were teenagers. Now their time is packed with unsettled love issues and unforgiven wrongs.
In the familiar surroundings old rituals and their comradeship helps them temporarily forget their restrictive adulthood. Revelations that arise makes them reassess their past as well as their present and forces them to contemplate the future.
Debut director Jenni Toivoniemi sketches an ironic portrait of a generation torn between their desires for love and their career plans.
DISCO: from Norway
Disco is Jorunn Myklebust Syversen’s challenging drama starring rising Norwegian star (Josefine Frida Pettersen) as Mirjam a 19-year-old dance champion. As a Christian she is confronted with decisions regarding her conviction to her faith
Her desperation to achieve approval is driven by the relentless pushing from her mother (Kjærsti Odden Skjeldal), her uncle a respected pastor and by her stepfather (Nicolai Cleve Broch) who just happens to run ‘The Freedom’, a very trendy evangelical church.
Desperate to achieve approval, encouraged by her mother (Kjærsti Odden Skjeldal), her uncle a respected pastor and by her a little too charming stepfather (Nicolai Cleve Broch) who just happens to run ‘The Freedom’, a very trendy evangelical church.
Battling the pressures of her fading skills Mirjam tormented by the thought that is her lack of faith that is causing her diminishing ability to win competitions.
This extremely sensitive depiction of contemporary Christian cults is blunt and disturbing with Pettersen’s poignant performance as a young woman torn between faith and confidence in one’s own capabilities.
TIGERS: from Sweden
Martin (Erik Enge) is a promising footballer in Sweden. At sixteen he is bought by Italy’s Inter Milan. The price of dreams can be very high and the personal sacrifice, dedication, pressure and loneliness, takes it’s toll on Martin as he questions his future.
Writer-director Ronnie Sandahl skilfully tells Martin’s story which is faithfully adapted from Bengtsson’s autobiography “In the Shadow of San Siro”.
Taking us inside the gilded cage inhabited by top tier, rising star footballers, Tigers is a rollercoaster ride through a cutthroat world where athletes are treated like tradable commodities and tackles the taboo subject of mental health issues in professional sports.
The Emigrants: (The Re-Screening at all Cinemas)
The Emigrants follows struggling farmers Karl Oskar Nilsson (Max von Sydow) and his wife Kristina (Liv Ullmann) who in order to escape the hardships of their strict life emphasised by increasing social and religious persecution in mid-19th Century Sweden, embark on an arduous journey to the United States with many of their neighbours.
After a long and hazardous ocean voyage and a just as strenuous trek across unforgiving landscape the hopeful emigrants find themselves in the supposedly unspoiled Minnesota.
This cold and at times heartless yet strangely inspiring tale portrays the saga of so many who desperately sought better lives in the a new land.
The film is 3hr and 11mis long so in the tradition of ‘old time cinema’ it will screen with a 15-minute intermission.
A refreshing look at cinema that excels without the need for excessive CGI
Well worth a look. ****
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PHOTO Concept and Design by Beata Gombas