Nordic Film Fest, which has become a window in the Mediterranean to the North and its cinema, invites you to meet famous Nordic directors and actors together with their movies in Rome. Taking place over four days in the beginning of May it is situated elegantly in Villa Borghese in the centre of Rome within the arthousy Casa del Cinema.
This year the festival opened with Erik Poppe introducing The King’s Choice, a true masterpiece displaying Poppe’s exquisite sense of storytelling: “I think it’s great you chose The King’s Choice to open Nordic Film Fest, as it is really a story from the North.” Referring to how King Haakon VII of Norway was actually a Danish prince before he stepped into his role, whereas his Crown Prince Olav was married to Princess Märtha of Sweden, and together they made up the Royal family of Norway during the difficult times of WWII. Poppe conducted a great deal of research, wanting a ‘sannferdig’, meaning truthful portrait of the King and those dramatic days of the country’s history.
Other war stories were brought to the table, such as Across the Waters or The Last King portraying different point of views in Denmark during WWII and Norway in the 1206’s Civil War. Where the last one stands out as a central event in Norwegian history and now is told with brave soldiers who save the last king, a one-year-old baby by battling and skiing away from the enemy. Telling stories with a different kind of impact, autobiographic movies from Finland made you shake in the seat such as The Eternal Road presented by producer Ilkka Matila: “My interest for untold stories was one of the motivations to make this movie. The Eternal Road is a story of idealism; it is not an eternal road, but an eternal wish to search for a better life.” The film tells the story of Finns leaving their home country for a better life in the United States before trying their luck in the Soviet Union by invitation from Stalin. Star Boys takes us to the adolescence of two boys in Oulu, and their relationships with sexuality and the way those questions impact their families. Based on the director’s own life, Visa Koiso-Kanttila used to only make documentaries before he decided to bring his childhood to the screen with the actress Pihla Viitala playing the mother; “I have worked on more than forty productions, but, with Koiso-Kanttila, it was different. I really felt he listened to me and I was astonished by the talent of the child actors.”
The screenings are all free to attend, with audiences queuing to get into almost every screening. Nordic Film Fest started seven years ago as an initiative of the Nordic Embassies in Rome (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) as to promote Nordic cinema and culture for an Italian audience. Later on the Circolo Scandinavo, the Scandinavian Artist Residency joined the team with the Icelandic director, including and bringing some Icelandic film to the program together with the artists’ video art.
A day before the film festival an exhibition dedicated to Ingmar Bergman opened in occasion of his birthday anniversary, taking you to Bergman’s heritage in fashion and art. The exhibition decorating Casa del Cinema’s foyer will remain for the rest of May. Another Swedish presence was Suzanne Osten who presented her film The Girl, The Mother and Demons, educating the audience on the topic on parents with mental illnesses and the impact it can have on their children. Also, this year the festival expanded its axis to a younger audience with the NFF Kids where children could see to their delight short films dubbed live by an actress.
In Italy, there are few festivals dedicated to Nordic culture, and Nordic Film Fest has become one of a kind because of both its quality filled film program and amazing guest participations. With a four-day, extremely varied program, it is impossible to describe it all; however, a piece of the North was presented to those who wanted to discover it in Casa del Cinema during these May days. The Nordic Film Fest has become a window to the North in the Mediterranean, indeed.