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Göteborg Film Festival in Brief: Day One

Cinema Scandinavia’s editor-in-chief, Emma Vestrheim, is attending the Göteborg Film Festival on behalf of the website. The Göteborg Film Festival is the largest film festival for Nordic films, and the ‘in Brief’ series is a summary of the films and documentaries Emma sees. 

You can find the full reviews as well as interviews in the March issue of our magazine. You can also follow Emma on Twitter here. 

Amateurs (2018)

Sweden / Nominated for the Dragon Award for Best Nordic Film

Directed by Gabriela Pichler

Opening with a montage at a cowboy festival in Sweden and all the daggy dancing/costumes that comes with it, Amateurs provides an energetic and exciting opening as it introduces us to two teenage girls bursting with confidence. Dressed as cowboys, the girls explore their small community of Lafors. From there, we find ourselves sitting with the council as they announce that a German megastore wants to open shop in Sweden, and Lafors is under consideration. So, Amateurs is about the promotional video the council needs to make in order to woo the Germans. However, our teenage protagonists know about this video and plan to make their own, much better, version. Immigration and ethnicity is a topic that is covered, but much more important is the concept of a ‘real community’; It’s an excellent topic.

Amateurs is all bright colours and exciting sounds for the first half of the film, but once it gets into its plot it loses momentum. Perhaps not fully fleshed out, or just not provided enough depth, Amateurs slugs along into its final third, and while the climactic sequence puts a smile on your face, it’s somewhat predictable and muddled with unimportant subplots. Gabriela Pichler is a fantastic director, as proven in 2012’s Eat Sleep Die, but the script needed some fleshing out.

Amateurs is also screening at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, which you can stream online thanks to FestivalScope. Click here to find out more.

★★★ 1/2

The Miracle Journey (2018)

Sweden / Screening in ‘Nordic Light’

Directed by Fabian Wigren, Lisa Vipola

In this documentary about alternative medicines, the directors Fabian and Lisa, who are both suffering from incurable, chronic diseases, decided to travel to the small village of Abadiânia in Brazil to visit John of God, who is famous as a healer (click here to read about him). When Lisa comes across the opportunity to visit John of God, she convinces Fabian to join her, though Fabian is less convinced. After paying 20 000 SEK, they join a group of Swedes looking to be cured.

As someone who is not big on alternative medicine (though not totally disapproving of it), I found this documentary hard to interpret; I couldn’t figure out what the director’s thought of their own topic, and I found it at times hard to follow. At the same time, I feel as though these muddled opinions also reflect on how the directors thought.

★★

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.