Latest round of Swedish Film Institute funding announced

King Fury

Press release from the Swedish Film Institute:

Kickstarter sensation Kung Fury offers crazy action with tongue firmly in cheek. In addition 10 feature-length films – including Banjul by Dani Kouyaté and The Acali Experiment by Marcus Lindeen – and 14 short films have been awarded production funding by the Swedish Film Institute in recent months. Four films have been granted automatic funding.

Kung Fury is an action comedy about how policeman and kung fu master Kung Fury (played by David Sandberg who also writes and directs) gets the toughest mission of his life – he is sent back in time and meets dinosaurs, robots and Norse gods in his quest to beat his nemesis – none other than Adolf Hitler. This crazy homage to 1980s action movies has been funded by one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever – with receipts of more than 630,000 dollars to date.

The film will have its world premiere in Cannes Film Festival. After that, it will be shown on SVT (Swedish public service TV) on 28 May, with simultaneous launch online on SVT Play and YouTube. Produced by Linus Andersson och Eleni Younng Karlsson, Laserunicorns. The film’s official song was recently released,True Survivor sung by Knight Rider star David Hasselhoff, with a music video fully in line with the film’s aesthetic (the video has already been viewed more than 10,000,000 times – watch it on YouTube).

Marja Bål Nango’s Oh Máigon Girl (Hilbes biigá) and Lovisa Sirén’s Baby are both short films about heavily charged summer evenings. Baby is set during a magical early summer’s evening in Stockholm – the encounter between a 34-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy develops into a road movie on foot. LikeKung Fury, Baby is part of the Moving Sweden initiative.

Sirén has previously made Pussy Have the Power, which won the short film category ‘Startsladden’ at the Göteborg Film Festival, and Audition, which was the opening short at the same festival this year. Baby has been awarded production funding as part of the Moving Sweden project, which features strong narratives in exciting new forms.

Oh Máigon Girl (Hilbes biigá) is set in a small village in the Arctic tundra – it’s summer and the midnight sun means never-ending daylight. This is a film about young Sámi people, but it shuns the traditional Sámi topics and describes teenage life under the midnight sun. The film was screened at the Berlin Film Festival as part of the Sámi short film package 7 Sámi Stories and has now been awarded production funding by the Swedish Film Institute.

Dani Kouyaté’s feature-length film Banjul is about Kandia, who has lived in Sweden for 30 years and decides to return to her former homeland, Gambia. Her grown-up son Ibbe goes with her, but the encounter with their homeland is not how they imagined. Kandia discovers that her yearning for Banjul was a fantasy and that Gambia is no longer her home, while Ibbe – who has dreams of being a hip hop artist – discovers a city full of possibilities.

Marcus Lindeen, the director behind Guldbagge Award-winning Regretters (Ångrarna) revisits the remarkable scientific experiment from 1973 – dubbed the ‘sex raft’ in the press – in his film The Acali Experiment. In 1973 five men and six women crossed the Atlantic in a raft – the aim being to study violence and conflicts. Four decades later, the crew are reunited to talk about what really happened on board.

Over 600,000 copies of Pija Lindenbaum’s children’s books have been sold in Sweden alone, and one of them is now being adapted for the big screen for the first time. The acclaimed picture book Siv sover vilse (no English title) is transformed into a film adventure full of magical realism and recognition, as seven-year-old Siv has her first sleepover at a friend’s house. This film is a Swedish-Dutch co-production directed by Catti Edfeldt and Lena Hanno Clynes.

Joakim Demmer’sDead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas is a completely different type of film: a documentary about land grabbing, the shocking but virtually unpreventable phenomenon of foreign investors buying up agricultural land in poor countries, and creating gigantic industrial farms that swallow up all arable land in the area, the result being that the local population loses its ability to support itself.

Fredrik Gertten’s documentary Bikes vs Cars has already been screened in cinemas and is now receiving production funding from the Swedish Film Institute. Gertten previously directed the acclaimed BANANAS!* and Big Boys Gone Bananas!*, and his new film is about the role of cycling in the climate crisis: about the powerful interests that profit from the growth of private motoring and invest billions every year in lobbying and advertising to protect their business, and about the activists and thinkers fighting for better towns and cities who refuse to stop cycling despite the rising number of deaths on the roads.

Nima Sarvestani won the ultimate award in the world of TV, an Emmy, for his last film No Burqas Behind Bars (Frihet bakom galler). Now he’s back with Those Who Said No (De som sa nej), a documentary about the trial following the murder of political prisoners in Iran. Kersti Grunditz’s documentary about Carl Johan de Geer was recently screened in cinemas, and her new film Labor of Loveis about court dancer Marie Lindqvist. Wiktor Ericsson’s Strawberry Days (Jordgubbslandet) depicts working conditions for foreign berry pickers and young love across the barriers, while Petter Lennstrand’s Upp i det blå is a children’s and family film that combines puppetry with live action.

The Norwegian-Swedish co-production Kungens nej – Tre dygn i april, a thriller directed by Erik Poppe based on true events during the Second World War, andPeter Modestij’s 6A, a short film about a crisis meeting for a secondary school class with complex power hierarchies, have also been awarded production funding.

The short films awarded production funding in recent months include many documentaries: A Portrait of a Terrorist by Agnieszka Lukasiak; Dans för livetby Erlend E. Mo; Varicella by the Russian director Victor Kossakovsky, which is also about dance; Radio Cineola – The Inertia Variations by Johanna St Michaels; Extramaterial by Maximilian von Aertryck; and Shadowland, a homage to film and the golden age of Hollywood by John Skoog.

Automatic funding

Four films are being awarded automatic funding: Lisa James Larsson’sTsatsiki, farsan och olivkriget, Helena Bergström’s Härlig är jorden, the animation Bamse och häxans dotter directed by Maria Blom and Christian Ryltenius, and Brisinger Untitled by Johan Brisinger.

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.