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.
A Good Week for Democracy
Sweden / Competing for the Nordic Documentary Prize
Directed by Cecilia Björk
This documentary follows the Almedal week in Visby, which is where all the politicians from Sweden go to promote their policies. The event is widely publicised in the media, and it has led to discussions on whether or not it’s just a place for politicians to mingle and corruption to take place. The director, Cecilia Björk, follows politicians from all of the parties and captures the absurdity of the spectacle and presents a portrait of these individuals.
Honestly, this is a documentary probably intended for Swedes. Not at all bad, I was unsure if I was supposed to know who the politicians were or what this event actually was. It was interesting watch how politicians have to set themselves up for the press, and I liked that it covered all parties without pushing an agenda.
Violently in Love
Denmark / Screening in Nordic Light
Directed by Christina Rosendahl
Violently in Love is a brilliant documentary about a sheltered residence in Copenhagen where women and children can go after having experienced violence in their relationships, often with husbands or boyfriends. Rosendahl’s documentary focuses more on the extensive and challenging healing process these women have to go to in order to regain enough strength to go and live on their own.
Violently in Love carefully depicts these women’s stories, not focusing too much on the violent aspect and instead looking at how the women try to come out stronger than before. Rosendahl chose her focus very attentively, and it certainly pays off. While I wish it had been a little more dynamic than simply conversations with the residents and staff, I feel like it’s a really important documentary that covers a topic sadly not covered in Scandinavia. Back home in Australia, domestic violence has become a hot topic with the country looking to stop violence against women, but in Scandinavia, as Rosendahl explained in a Q&A, the countries (especially Denmark) tend to deny it happens. So for that, Violently in Love deserves a lot of attention.
A Balkin Noir
Sweden / Screening in Nordic Light
Directed by Drazen Kuljanin
A Balkan Noir follows Nina (Disa Östrand) and Oskar (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) after they lose their daughter while on vacation in Montenegro, with her probably kidnapped and/or killed. It’s been five years since the event took place, and the couple have since written a book about their experience and Oskar has come to terms with the situation. However, Nina is out for revenge and returns to Montenegro when the detective unable to let go of the unsolved case picks up a lead.
I really liked this film. Director Drazen Kuljanin explained in a Q&A that he had to take out a bank loan for this film after being unable to secure funding, and I don’t understand why this wasn’t set up as a coproduction (I’ll go into that in my full review). Kuljanin uses creative and expressionistic iconography to showcase the inner workings of his characters, and scenes in the film are cut with old smoking commercials in between. Smoking is a big part of the film, with all of the characters with their own inner turmoil (primarily Nina and the detective) chain-smoking constantly. He did this to create a sense of nostalgia; nostalgia for this old-fashioned ads and nostalgia for how common smoking used to be in film. He did this to express the nostalgia and the longing for the past Nina has, and it works brilliantly. I hope this film gets a good festival run, because it deserves it.