Nordic Films at the Filmfest Hamburg (29 September – 8 October)

The FilmFest Hamburg has kicked off in Germany, and as usual contains plenty of excellent Nordic films. The FilmFest Hamburg is a festival for audiences, with over 140 national and international feature and documentary films screening from all over the world. The programme varies from sophisticated arthouse films to innovative mainstream cinema.

The FilmFest Hamburg runs until the 8th of October and here are the Nordic films screening:


The Day Will Come (dir. Jesper Nielsen)

Nominated for the Commerzbank Audience Award

In 1967, a new youth culture begins to emerge in Europe. In a working-class district of Copenhagen, the brothers Elmer and Erik are separated from their sick mother and put in a home. Here, time has stood still. Director Heck leads a rigorous regime with the aim of breaking the will of his young inmates by any means necessary. The brothers try to remain under the despot’s radar, but Elmer, with his club foot and dreams of being an astronaut, keeps getting into trouble. Soon, the brothers realize that they can only help themselves – and start a revolt, armed only with their imagination and what’s left of their hopes and dreams. This intense drama with Lars Mikkelsen in the role of the home director is based on a true story and started a debate in Denmark about the care home system.

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In the Blood (dir.Rasmus Heisterberg)

Nominated for the NDR Young Talent Award

One short summer of anarchy in Copenhagen: medical student Simon shares a flat with his best friends and spends his time partying with them and two other students. When they wake up in the morning, they carry on where they left off. But the nearer the end of summer comes, the more doubt and tension creep into their programme of eternal adolescence. The friends want to sell their flats and are on the threshold to adulthood. Simon on the other hand wants to stay with the programme. Friendships are on the brink of destruction. With great energy and pace, the film portrays a window of freedom that is slowly closing.

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The Mine (dir. Aleksi Salmenperä)

Nominated for The Political Film of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

Jussi is starting a new job at the environment authority in Lapland and has the task of checking whether the regulations have been adhered to in a nickel mine. The mine is owned by a powerful mining company led by the charismatic Pekka. Jussi soon notices that there’s something fishy going on. Approval procedures are shortened, expert opinions ignored, favours dispersed. Pekka is the mastermind behind a corrupt web linking industry and state sector – and Jussi becomes part of it. Under pressure not to jeopardize a project that is politically desired and will create many jobs, he at first closes his eyes to the impending ecological disaster. But how long can he remain silent? A tense ecothriller, based on a true story that made the headlines in Finland a few years ago.

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In Front of Others (dir. Óskar Jónasson)

Nominated for the Commerzbank Audience Award

Hubert is shy, introverted and has difficulty communicating with other people. He is, however, a brilliant imitator. When he meets Hanna and falls in love, he makes her laugh with his imitations of the Icelandic president and Hubert’s friend Fridrik. The two become a couple. But constantly imitating others takes more and more control of Hubert and becomes a kind of stand-up mania liable to break out in all kinds of situations. It gets on Hanna’s nerves and she distances herself from Hubert – so he has to find other ways of pleasing her and winning her heart, once and for all. In Front of Others is a wonderfully winning romantic comedy: warm, witty and intelligent.

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The Together Project (dir. Sólveig Anspach)

Nominated for the Hamburg Film Critic Award

Samir, a lanky crane operator in his 40s, falls headlong for Agathe. As she works as a swimming instructor, he has the brilliant idea of registering for a swimming course. The deceit lasts exactly three lessons. Agathe is appalled: if there’s one thing she hates, it’s liars. Their romance seems to be dead in the water before it’s even begun. When Agathe goes to a lifeguard congress in Reykjavík, she manages to push a whole ocean between her and Samir.  But he wouldn’t be head over heels in love if a bit of water and 2000km represented real obstacles. A charming romantic comedy, full of lust for life and a wonderful hommage to the bathing culture of Iceland.

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Dam (dir. Paul Tunge)

Two young men, J. und Jo, have spent the night together. To get to know each other better, they decide to go hiking in the mountains for a few days. The trip begins with tenderness and consideration. They enjoy spending time together and have no great need to talk much. But, bit by bit, the magic is displaced by disenchantment and emptiness. In the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a vast expanse of nature and silence, a storm brews up between J. and Jo which ends in an eruption. A psychodrama based in large part on improvisation.

The Lion Woman (dir. Vibeke Idsøe) (pictured)

Nominated for the Hamburg Producers Award for European Cinema Co-Productions

In the winter of 1912 in a little provincial town in Norway, a little girl is born whose whole body is covered in fine blonde hairs. For scientists of the time an interesting case, a curiosity. Eva’s mother dies in childbirth and her father stationmaster Arctander at first rejects all contact with his “lion girl”. Shut away, far from the curious eyes of the outside world, little Eva creates her own world until one day she finds the courage to escape the constrictions of her life. The Lion Girl is a coming-of-age drama based on the eponymous novel by the Norwgenian writer Erik Fosnes Hansen and stars Burghart Klaußner and Ken Duken and a superlative supporting cast.

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My Aunt in Sarajevo (dir. Goran Kapetanovic)

Since fleeing the war in the Balkans twenty years ago, Zlatan has notbeen back to Bosnia. The only connection to his past is an aged aunt in Sarajevo,to whom he regularly sends money. Even if Zlatan doesn’t want to hear about it,his daughter is determined to visit his old home with him. She wants to see forherself what he never talks about. When Zlatan finally gives in, the pair setoff on a journey which has a number of emotional and strange meetings in store and some old unsettled scores. The supporting film is Refugee 532.

Sami Blood (dir. Amanda Kernell)

Nominated for the NDR Young Talent Award

Sweden in the 1930s. With her parents and her little sister, 14-year old Sámi girl Elle Marjalives from rearing reindeer. In the course of a state-run “cultivationprogramme” designed to teach the most Northerly ethnic minorities theSwedish language and culture, Elle Marja is put in a boarding school a long wayfrom home. Here, the girl is schooled and fostered – and has to undergorace-based examinations. She begins to increasingly deny her Sámi identity, herorigins become an embarrassment to her. Against a visually breath-takingbackdrop and fantastic sound design, the drama illuminates a hitherto little-knownchapter of Swedish history.

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Siv Sleeps Astray (dir. Catti Edfeldt, Lena Hanno Clyne)

Nominated for the Michel Award

For the first time, little Mia is spending the night at her friend Cerisa’s. At first, Mia is over the moon, but the later it gets, the more mysterious things become. Fortunately, in the night two garrulous and quarrelsome badgers turn up who help Mia master the challenge.

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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.