Inaugural Scandinavian film festival skates in on TV boom

100 year old man

Image:  The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

The best of Scandinavian cinema will light up screens around Australia, as the inaugural Scandinavian Film Festival commences in July. The festival will tour across Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth before finishing in Byron Bay.

With the growing demand and appreciation of Scandinavian film and the success of Danish/ Swedish crime drama television series such as The Bridge, the works of filmmakers from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland have been slowly gaining exposure with new audiences. An increasing number of Scandinavian films have been featured in recent Australian international film festivals, prompting the northern European countries to claim their own spot in the crowded ethnic film festival calendar.

‘It’s a very right time for Scandinavian cinema and television. It seems like the perfect time for us to step it up and actually make it happen here,’ said Festival Director Genevieve Kelly.

Presented by Palace and screening exclusively at Palace Cinema locations, the Festival will feature 21 films, ranging from critically acclaimed films through to crowd-pleasing blockbusters.

It’s not the first time the region has tried to crack the Australian film festival market. A similarly orientated festival, the Nordic Film Festival debuted in 2009, but did not continue past its inaugural year. But Kelly said that the Scandinavian Film Festival will be the different because it has linked in to the foreign film festival series run by Palace Cinemas.

‘There have been other Scandinavian film festivals that have popped up around the place. A lot of them have been local and they’ve tried to get off the ground and haven’t achieved it necessarily for more then one year in a row’, said Kelly.

‘I think the one major thing that we have going for us is that Palace Cinemas is the home of foreign film festivals in Australia. We know what makes a strong program. We know how to make great events. Our audience already pairs well with the festival, an audience that enjoy a different kind of experience.’

Finnish actress and Jussi Awards recipient Laura Birn, from festival films Heart of a Lion and August Fools, will be making an appearance as part of the festival, attending opening nights in Canberra and Sydney, and participating in Q&A sessions with her film Heart of a Lion in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Festival will open with Swedish blockbuster The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Hundraaringen som klev ut genom fonstret och forsvann), a comedy based on the international bestselling novel by Jonas Jonasson.

‘It’s really nice to have a strong comedy to open the festival because I think a lot of people have preconceptions of Scandinavian cinema as Nordic noir with the thrillers and crime-dramas that they do so well. But they are really brilliant with comedy as well, so it’s great to profile that kind of side for opening night,’ said Kelly.

Other festival highlights include Sixties Swedish film, Per Fly’s Waltz for Monica (Monica Z), a biopic based on the life of popular Swedish jazz-singer Monica Zetterlund and acclaimed film Home (Hemma), which won international film festival awards in Germany and Korea.

Dannish film Flow (Aekte vare), from director Fenar Ahmad will screen at the festival, a film that opened Copenhagen’s biggest film festival, 2014 CPHPIX. From Iceland, box-office smash Spooks and Spirits (Ófeigur gengur aftur), Norwegian documentary Ballet Boys (Ballettguttene) and one of Finland’s most successful films of all time, 21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage (21 tapaa pilata avioliitto) will be also featured,  along with many more films.

Kelly said that the first year’s program will hopefully attract new and already existing foreign film fans, securing the festivals longevity.

‘Given the Palace’s history and knowledge of what makes a great film festival and the simple fact that Scandinavian cinema and television is on the rise, the festival is definitely something that will be running for many years to come,’ said Kelly.

The Scandinavian Film Festival 

8-20 July 2014
Palace Electric

9-27 July
Palace Verona & Palace Norton St

10-27 July 2014
Palace Cinema Como, Palace Brighton Bay

11-20 July 2014
Palace Centro

23-31 July 2014
Palace Nova Eastend

24-30 July 2014
Cinema Paradiso

Byron Bay
25-30 July 2014
Palace Byron Bay

Tickets from $15. Multi-film passes and group bookings also available. For more information, session times and to purchase tickets visitScandinavian Film Festival.

via Artshub.com.au

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.