From nuclear accidents to tsunamis to racism and romance, there’s more turmoil in Nordic cinema than you’d imagine
The third Scandinavian Film Festival is here. Twenty-two films will screen across all genres, from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, at Palace Cinema Como, Westgarth, Brighton Bay and the Astor Theatre.
As a special retrospective, Nicholas Winding Refn’s Pusher trilogy (1996-2005) – three classics of Nordic noir – will screen for the strong of stomach. Refn would go on to make Bronson, The Driver, and Only God Forgives – and win the Sydney Film Prize twice.
Here are ten more picks of the festival.
10. Welcome to Norway
The festival opens with director Rune Denstad Langlo’s black comedy about an aspiring hotel owner’s decision to turn his half-built alpine hotel into a state-funded refugee asylum centre. Set near the Norwegian-Swedish border, the film comments on the highly topical subject of Europe’s migration crisis.
9. Land of Mine
Set in post-WWII Denmark, Land of Mine is a powerful, morally complex thriller that tells the stories of a young group of German prisoners of war under the supervision of a cruel Danish sergeant. Based on true events, the film examines retribution and forgiveness.
8. The Fencer
This biopic of legendary fencing master Endel Nelis shows Nelis’s attempt to keep his forced German military service a secret as he hides from Stalin’s secret police at a remote Estonian village. It was nominated for a Golden Globe this year.
7. The Wave
A geologist observes suspicious readings while working at an early disaster-warning centre. Based on the events of Norway’s 1934 tsunami, which hit the town of Tafjord, The Wave is a chillingly realistic disaster movie.
6. Love is the Drug
In this Swedish romcom, an unlikely romance begins between Veronica (Izabella Scorupco), a single upper-class mum, and Mike (David Hellenius), a carpenter rebuilding her kitchen. After conflicts arise upon meeting each other’s family, Veronica decides the best option is to go on a holiday at her wealthy parents’ house – with chaotic results.
5. Gold Coast
Rising star Jakob Oftebro (Kon-Tiki) stars as a young idealist sent to the Danish Guinea (today’s southeast Ghana) to establish a commercial coffee plantation. Charmed by the land while working closely with the natives, he soon faces the moral challenge of confronting the Danes and their exploitive practices within the colony.
4. The Mine
A young family man takes a job overseeing environmental permissions for a huge nickel mine project orchestrated by a Finnish company and is soon pressured into overlooking the mine’s toxic effect on local waters. This environmental thriller is also a cautionary tale.
3. Other Girls
Other Girls tracks the lives, loves and experiences of four 18-year-old girls as they approach graduation. From unrequited love to high school bullies, it has everything you’d expect from a feel-good coming-of-age drama.
2. The Idealist
A young journalist launches an investigation into the suspicious circumstances that led an American B-52 bomber carrying nuclear warheads to crash on the polar ice near the US base in Greenland. This Danish movie is based on the 1968 Thule Air Base Crash that caused radioactive contamination and the subsequent international scandal.
1. Nice People
This documentary details how Somalian refugees in the mainly white Swedish town of Borlange win over the locals through playing the game of bandy (a fusion sport of ice hockey and soccer) and soon after have their sights on competing at the World Championships in Irkutsk, Russia.
Full film list:
Welcome to Norway (Norway)
Land of Mine (Denmark)
The Fencer (Finland/Estonia/Germany)
Reindeer in my Saamii Heart (Sweden)
The Pusher Trilogy (Various Countries)
As it is in Heaven (Sweden)
As it is in Heaven 2: Heaven on Earth (Sweden)
A Holy Mess (Sweden)
Love is the Drug (Sweden)
Nice People (Sweden)
The Yard (Sweden)
A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
Gold Coast (Denmark)
The Idealist (Denmark)
The Together Project (Iceland)
The Mine (Finland)
Other Girls (Finland)
The Wave (Norway)