Finnish Films ‘Once I Dreamt of Life’ and ‘The Disciple’ Awarded at the Nordic Film Days

From the Finnish Film Foundation


The 56th Nordic Film Days Lübeck awarded its main prizes late last night. The main competitition’s NDR film prize went to the icelandic film Life in a Fishbowl, directed by Baldvin Z. The film is produced by Júlíus Kemp and Ingvar Thordarson for the Icelandic Film Company. Solar Films is  the Finnish co-producer of the film. Life in a Fishbowl premiered this year at Toronto and is the official icelandic entry for the Academy Awards. They have escaped by director J-P Valkeapää got an honourable mention from the jury in the main competition section. They have escaped premiered this year at Venice Days and got excellent reviews at this year’s Toronto film festival. The second feature by director J-P Valkeapää is a beautiful film about fragile love, childhood dreams and the violence of reality. The main competition also screened another Finnish film titled Boy Upside Down by Juha Lehtola.

The Documentary Film Prize, which was accompanied by € 2.500, was awarded to the Finnish documentary film Once I Dreamt of Life by Jukka Kärkkäinen and Sini Liimatainen. Once I Dreamt of Life is a feature length documentary film about suicide, a subject that people rarely want to talk about even though in Finland alone two people commit suicide every day. The film is an account about one’s personal relation to suicide, but it also studies it as a social phenomen.

In the children’s and youth section, the adult jury awarded its top honour, endowed with € 5.000, to the The Disciple by director Ulrika Bengts. The story of the Disciple takes place in an isolated island in the Baltic Sea in the summer of 1939 when the thirteen-year-old Karl comes to the island to work as lighthouse master Hasselbond’s assistant. The film premired at the 37th World Film Festival Montreal in 2013 and was Finland’s official contender for Oscars last year. Previously The Disciple has won Alice nella citta section’s main prize in Rome film festival. Other Finnish films screened at the children and youth section were Jill and Joy by Saara Cantell, Changes by Sami Laitinen and Korso by Akseli Tuomivaara.

Finnish short films screened at this year’s festival were Boyfriend by Kirsikka Saari and Jenni Toivoniemi, The Fascist by Taneli MustonenBeing Human by Paula Korva and Behind the Curtain by Teemu Nikki. Short documentaries included in the programme were Instrument of Himmler by Heikki Huttu-HiltunenRemembrance by Peter von BaghWhite Chimney by Jani Peltonen and From the Heart by Outi Rousu.

The Nordic Film Days Lübeck is the largest festival outside Scandinavia devoted to the films from the Nordic and Baltic regions. This year 172 films were screened in various sections. Finland and Baltic countries were in special focus this year. Finland was honoured as the guest country of this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair with gems of Finnish film history. The Song of the Scarlet Flower (1938) by Teuvo Tulio and Valentin Vaala’s Hulda from Juurakko (1937) were screened as well as Risto Jarva’s The Man Who Couldn’t Say No (1975) and Mikko Niskanen’s Eight Deadly Shots (1972).

The festival also showcased the Scandinavian drawing room comedies. Inspector Palmu’s Error (1960) by Matti KassilaThe Year of the Hare (1977) by Risto Jarva and Markku Pölönen’s film On the Road to Emmaus (2001) were three farces selected to be screened in this section.

The 56th edition of Nordic Film Days Lübeck closes today, November 2, 2014.

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.