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Nordic Films in Competition – Titanic International Film Festival 2015

Titanic International Film Festival runs between 10–18 April in five different venues in Budapest, Hungary. Since 2005 Titanic operates as a Competition Festival: this year 8 films are in competition for the Breaking Waves Award representing 10 nations, including Sweden and Finland.

Titanic not only celebrates its 22nd birthday this year, but also women. Allan Sørensen, the programme director of Titanic, himself stated that one of his intentions was to make a statement, partly considering the fact that in the last two years two female directors won, and both winning films (Lore and Victoria) presented female protagonists. This year the keyword is diversity, and you are all surely happy to hear that half of the film-makers in competition are women.

Titanic International Film Festival is one of Hungary’s leading festival when it comes to showcasing the best of cinema from around the world in general, and from Scandinavia and/or the Nordic region. Besides screening films two directors from the North are coming to attend the festival: Ronnie Sandahl (Underdog) from Sweden and Jukka-Pekka Valkepää (They Have Escaped) from Finland. Besides them you will also have a chance to meet Lucie Borleteau (Fidelio) from France.

They Have EscapedRonnie Sandahl’s Underdog (Svenskjävel) is a serious drama about social and economic issues, and mass unemployment – especially among the youth – in Sweden with Bianca Kronlöf in the leading role who is a radical anti-sexist stand-up comedian. Thousands of young adults from Sweden try to find a new life in Norway to work there as cleaners or waiters. 23-years-old Dino is in a similar situation: she has a job as a housekeeper by a Norvegian middle-class family but soon she finds herself in the middle of a strange love triangle. This film shows what you probably have never imagined when you have thought of Scandinavia or one of the welfare states located up there. Even its original Swedish title says a lot, and believe me, it doesn’t mean such a nice thing.

Jukka-Pekka Valkepää’s They Have Escaped (He ovat paenneet) presents another perspective of freedom in a poetically narrated and photographed motion picture. The main characters are two teenagers who meet in a correctional centre. Whereas the boy is somewhat introverted and shy, the girl is very energetic. They escape together to begin their journey with a stolen car, sex, drugs and neverending scuttle.

The VisitApart from Sandahl’s and Valkepää’s work the audience can choose from other Nordic films to see, which in their own ways provide plenty of new and valuable knowledge and information that will hopefully shape our views on our world and, more importantly, on us. Those who are more keen on documentaries can go and watch the acclaimed Danish director and artist Michael Madsen’s new piece called The Visit, for instance, that documents an event that has never taken place, namely our first encounter with intelligent life from space. Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence is the sequel of The Act of Killing, but this time the victims play major role in the production. Inuk Silis Høgh’s Sumé – The Sound of a Revolution commemorates Greenland’s revolution that began with a rock band after 250 years of the colonial suppression. Ryan Wilse’s I Am Thor takes us to the world of bodybuilder, musician and B movie star Jon Mikl Thor.

Kristian Levring’s western called The Salvation is set in the USA where we follow Danish immigrants who have left their homeland with the hope for a better life. Ole Giæver’s critically acclaimed film Out of Nature will be presented with Øyvind Holtmon’s Proletar, which guides us to a mine and has been nominated for the best student film in Scandinavia. The Swedish queer comedy Dyke Hard by Bitte Andersson doesn’t want to be more than that it actually is, namely a B movie, which has been inspired by John Waters and follows a lesbian rock band’s violent adventures back in 1986.

If you happen to be in Budapest between 10 and 18 April, don’t miss the opportunity to catch some Scandinavian/Nordic films, which are as usual reflecting upon some known and less known facts concerning the North and Scandinavia.

Festival programme
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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.