The festival director gives her picks of this year’s Nordic film feast
The fourth Scandinavian Film Festival is now on with films from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, screening at Palace Norton Street and Palace Verona.
“It came about because Scandinavia makes so many amazing films and so many of them weren’t being picked up for distribution here, or even being picked up by the festivals,” says festival director Elysia Zeccola.
“I think audiences are drawn to the dark tone of gripping Scandi noir dramas. The deadpan humour of Nordic comedies is also popular. Scandinavian films tend to have very well-drawn characters, the story is the main focus, not bells and whistles, and so I find myself getting absorbed in the drama.”
Here are Elysia’s picks of the festival.
“Iceland doesn’t make that many films and has a small population but it always has at least one remarkable film every year that has really stunning landscapes – those amazing icy peaks and mountains creating this dramatic background to the film already before anything’s even happened. Heartstone is a beautiful coming-of-age story with a stunning sense of place.”
A Conspiracy of Faith Denmark
“It’s the highly anticipated third installment of the Department Q trilogy [starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Fares Fares]. We screened The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Absent One and they were both really successful in previous festivals so we knew that the audience would be keen to see the third one. It’s a cold case crime thriller about a serial killer who preys on children. Edge of your seat stuff.”
The Other Side of Hope Finland
“It’s Aki Kaurismäki ’s new film, about a Syrian refugee who arrives in Finland and is befriended by a Helsinki restaurateur. Although it’s a comedy, it’s really poignant, it touches on those themes like immigration and the worldwide refugee crisis, but in a Kaurismäki way, with deadpan humour of course.”
“Darkland is a revenge thriller starring Dar Salim, who was in [Season One of] Game of Thrones. He plays a surgeon living in a fancy part of Denmark who ends up losing his brother in a gang-related assault and he decides to hunt down his brother’s murderers. It was a huge box office in hit in Denmark, it really, really gets the blood pumping.”
Tom of Finland Finland
“This biopic depicts the life of Touko Laaksonen, the cult artist who became famous under his alias ‘Tom of Finland,’ for his hardcore gay illustrations of uniformed men with exaggerated muscles. It’s a thoughtful exploration of identity, following Touko from his postwar life in an advertising agency in Finland where homosexuality was illegal, through to his move to LA during the sexual revolution. We’re making it a special event – there will be some Finnish cocktails and a DJ before the screening.”
“This documentary is about Magnus Carlsen, the child prodigy and chess genius and it follows his journey over the ten years. His family follows him around all over his chess tournaments, and it’s a really funny, and intimate portrait.”
The King’s Choice Norway
“I love this movie, it’s so well done. It’s a set in 1940 when the Nazis invaded Norway. And it’s about the ageing King of Norway and his defiance against the Germans. I really love the father-son rivalry in the film, the King and his son have this oddball relationship. It’s really just a gripping story and beautifully shot.”
A Hustler’s Diary Sweden
“Our closing night film is the very funny, street-smart story of petty criminal Metin, a second-generation Turk from the suburbs of Stockholm who dreams of fame. When he misplaces his journal and it’s discovered by a publisher he’s conflicted by not wanting to betray his friends who are all named in the diary.”
“A bride in the middle of her wedding reception finds a newborn baby abandoned in the hotel bathroom. She turns her over to child services and then 16 years later she’s a successful journalist, and the child returns to put the pieces together to find out where she came from.”
The Man Denmark
“The Man is the new film from writer-director Charlotte Sieling – she has previous TV credits The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge – and it’s set in the art world in Copenhagen. Simon (Søren Malling) is a big artist who everyone worships and his estranged son Casper (Jakob Oftebro) turns up at his doorstep, and Caspar is secretly a Banksy-style street artist so a big father-son rivalry starts to play off between the two of them. It’s really entertaining.”