Nordic films at the Wisconsin Film Festival 2017

About the Festival

The Wisconsin Film Festival presents 150 film screenings in the spring, making it the largest university-produced film festival in the country. The festival is known for its diverse cinema.

Where? Madison, Wisconsin

When? 30 March – 6 April 2017

Festival Website: http://wifilmfest.org/




Directed by Andreas Johnsen

Screening in New International Documentaries

The foodie movie to end all foodie movies, this fantastically entertaining documentary serves up a delicacy not found on any local menus… yet.  As the global population exponentially increases, experts have begun proposing insects as a miracle solution: an environmentally friendly protein source capable of feeding the world.  Enter Ben Reade and Josh Evans.  As Head Chef and Lead Researcher of iconic restaurant Noma’s Nordic Food Lab, these two are on a crusade to make bugs not just edible and green, but delicious.  Exploring where entomology meets gastronomy, the charismatic duo scours the globe for exotic invertebrates, buzzing between Mexico, Uganda, Japan, Peru, and many points between.  The species they uncover are jaw-dropping to behold; in Reade’s hands, they soon become mouth-watering, as well.  Your stomach will growl for grasshopper ravioli, maggot cheese gelato, and bee larva ceviche.  But as the concept of entomophagy inches towards the mainstream and insect-munching tradeshows begin to bloom, Ben and Josh’s idealism faces the nagging question of who will ultimately profit of off this new diet. – Mike King


The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki (Hymyilevä mies)

Directed by Juho Kuosmanen

Screening in New International Cinema

Helsinki, 1962.  Finland’s unlikely featherweight champ is a small-town charmer named Olli Mäki.  Olli gets an unexpected big break with the news that he’ll be fighting in American Davey Jones in a World Championship bout, the biggest sporting event in Finnish history.  There’s just one problem: Olli’s fallen in love.  Anyone can see that Olli’s going to get his clock cleaned, so he should be focusing on his training, but all he can think of is his new flame.  He can’t help it, much to the dismay of his showman manager, who is stuck trying to sell this besotted softie as a vicious pugilist (when a photographer asks him to shadowbox for the camera, Olli can’t help but giggle).  Based on a true story, Olli Mäki is hands-down the sweetest boxing film ever made.  Shot handheld on shimmering black-and-white 16mm film stock, director Juho Kuosmanen’s irresistible debut feels like an unearthed treasure from the European New Waves that were sprouting up just as Olli was entering the ring.  “Marvelous, from its very first, perfectly composed frame” (Variety).  Winner, Un Certain Regard, 2016 Cannes Film Festival.  Winner, Gold Hugo, 2016 Chicago Film Festival.  Discovery of the Year, 2016 European Film Awards. – Mike King

Nordic Film Database

Little Wing (Tyttö nimeltä Varpu)

Directed by Selma Vilhunen

Screening in New International Cinema and New Women Directors

An authentic depiction of a young girl on the verge of adolescence, Little Wing believably depicts what may end up being the most formative events in the life of its smart and strong heroine. Sensitively portrayed by Linnea Skog, 12-year-old Varpu lives with her needy, childlike mother Paula, who has never told Varpu about her father. Learning to ride horses with other girls her age, Varpu has begun to realize how un-normal her daily life has been. After a fight with Paula, who has a new man in her life, Varpu runs away to search for her mysterious biological father.  Oscar nominated for her 2012 short Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?, Director Selma Vilhunen finds plenty of warm-hearted humor in Varpu’s story, which, true to its protagonist, is told with an open-minded clarity and optimism about people. Little Wing is a real winner. 2016 Toronto Film Festival. Presented with the support of the Department of German and Dutch. – Jim Healy

Nordic Film Database


Directed by Rahul Jain

Screening in New International Documentaries

Enter the roiling maze of an Indian textile mill in Rahul Jain’s immersive documentary, which won a Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Cinematography at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.  This churning labyrinth of ancient machinery is periodically interrupted by cascades of colorful fabric, endlessly unspooling like psychedelic waterfalls.  Weaving between swampy dye baths and inferno-like furnaces, Jain’s camera-eye absorbs the undeniable spectacle of this surreal netherworld, but his attention soon drifts to the migrant laborers running it.  Working 12-hour shifts for dismal pay, they give powerful testimonials of the conditions that led them to the mill and keep them there.  Without the power to unionize, some express a quiet fury, while others appear more worn down, but all are desperate for a better way.  Machines is kinetic filmmaking with a strong social undercurrent.  “A magnetic cinematic experience.  This movie is more than politics, just as it is more than poetry” (RogerEbert.com). – Mike King




Sami Blood (Sameblod)

Directed by Amanda Kernell

Screening in New International Cinema and New Women Directors

In this compelling first feature from director Amanda Kernell set in the 1930s, an indigenous Sami girl from Northern Scandinavia is sent to a Swedish boarding school where she is expected to assimilate into “normal” Swedish society. Forcibly separated from her mother, teenage Elle Marja (Lene Cecilia Sparrok) and other Sami children are given traditional lessons, but they are also put through a series of racist and humiliating tests by pseudoscientific phrenologists who are attempting to identify which traits distinguish the Sami from “regular” Swedes. Unexpectedly, Elle Marja finds herself curious about and excited by her new surroundings. Soon though, her eagerness to please her teachers and her romantic interest in a local middle-class boy threaten to cut her off forever from her heritage and her family. Sensitively told and with a nice eye for period details, Sami Blood tells of a shameful chapter in Scandinavian history that serves as a reminder of the number of white cultures here in North America and on other continents who attempted to force assimilation of the land’s indigenous people. 2016 Toronto Film Festival. 2017 Sundance Film Festival. – Jim Healy

Nordic Film Database

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.