The Australian Scandinavian Film Festival is back for another year, and as always they have selected the best films that have emerged from the Nordic region in the last twelve months.
This year’s festival highlights the growing Scandinavian trend for contemporary dramas, reflecting various issues in the Nordics from the representation of the Sami people in Sami Blood to family questions of ‘belonging’ in Handle With Care. However, the festival is not just complex dramas; rather it covers the fascinating Scandinavian genre pieces coming from the region, from the crime A Conspiracy of Faith to the comedy Swinger and everything in between. Also covered are prominent Scandinavian directors like Hans Petter Moland and Aki Kaurismäki, with Charlotte Sieling (who directed episodes of The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen) attending the festival.
To view the full programme (and book your tix!), click here.
While it’s impossible for us to select our favourites from the twenty amazing films screen at the festival, here are five you can’t miss:
A Conspiracy of Faith is the third film in the highly successful Department Q series (the other two being The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Absent One). When it opened in Denmark last year, it had the best opening of a Danish film in 15 years – the Danes love their crime novel adaptations. In the third film, we now turn to the question of religion amongst the Danish spring fields (not your typical Nordic Noir setting!)
The Other Side of Hope is the latest release from auteur Aki Kaurismäki, who is known for portraying complex issues against the backdrop of the Finnish capital Helsinki. In The Other Side of Hope, he turns to the ever-current topic of Syrian immigation and the willingness of the everyday Finn to accept their new countrymen.
One of the biggest films to come out of Iceland in cinema history, Heartstone is the winner of over thirty international film awards (and counting!) and portrays an intimate summer in a remote Icelandic village. Through the eyes of two best friends, Thor and Christian, the film questions friendships, first loves, and homosexuality as these young kids learn how to transition to young adults.
From Norway, The King’s Choice has proven to be a nationalistic film amongst a popular genre in the region: the war film. Norwegian’s have made more occupation dramas than the other Nordics (around 35 since World War II), and in The King’s Choice they depict the days surrounding the occupation of Norway on the 9th of April 1940. Director Erik Poppe used to work as a war photographer, and he creates an almost documentary-like feel in this intense, gripping war drama.
Last but not least is Sami Blood, winner of this year’s Dragon Award for Best Nordic Film at the Gothenburg Film Festival. Amanda Kernell’s film explores the systematic removal of indigenous Sámi children from their parents that occurred in Scandinavia over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. With similar themes to Australia’s handling of the Aboriginals, Sami Blood is a beautifully shot and complex drama that raises important questions in a very troubled past.