Scandinavian films at the Sydney Film Festival

It’s that time of year for Sydney-siders – the Sydney Film Festival! This year the festival proves to have a strong love for modern Danish cinema, with all the major releases from the last twelve months screening at the festival. Competing this year is the Goteborg Film Festival winner Land of Mine, which stars Roland Møller. The festival also has the big names with films by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm, plus lead actors Michael Boe Følsgaard and Pilou Asbæk. Rounding up the Scandinavian films this year are two shorts from Sweden that have proven to be very popular locally.

The Sydney Film Festival takes place 8-19 June.

Pick up your tickets to these Scandinavian films here.


The Commune

Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Country: Denmark

Cast: Trine Dyrholm / read our interview with Trine Dyrholm here, Ulrich Thomsen, Helene Reingaard Neumann

Vinterberg’s experience of living in a commune between the ages of seven and 19 has inspired this affectionate and moving film about the joys and perils of communal life. Anna (Dyrholm) and Erik (frequent collaborator Ulrich Thomsen), a professional couple with an adolescent daughter, inherit a large house, which they decide to populate with friends and eccentrics. Celebrating with a group nude swim, these idealists and dreamers begin the process of negotiating their new, joint life. This tense and humour-filled arrangement ultimately results in togetherness. A love affair, however, threatens to destroy this hard-won solidarity. The Commune is a gentle portrait of a generation finding a balance between its ideals and its reality.


Land of Mine

Director: Martin Zandvliet

Country: Denmark

Cast: Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman

Winner of awards and audience prizes at several festivals, Land of Mine, based on extraordinary true events, is an edgy thriller about young German prisoners of war forced to disarm hidden weapons in the aftermath of World War II. Following the Nazi surrender, a group of teenaged Germans, conscripted at the tail end of the war, are put to work on the coast of Denmark. With minimal training, they are sent to disarm the landmines that lie hidden on Danish beaches. The Danish sergeant, Rasmussen (Roland Møller,A Hijacking, SFF 2013) supervises the young soldiers with an iron fist. Embittered by the brutal German occupation, he initially lacks sympathy for the young men as they go about their dangerous daily task. Gradually empathy develops, and Rasmussen grows to recognise the horror of the situation. Director Martin Zandvliet creates extraordinary tension but his humane concerns are very much the centre of the film, and he draws heartbreaking performances from his talented cast. Land of Mine is a sensitive and unforgettable film about a little-known part of history that has great resonance all these years later.

Mother Knows Best

Director: Michael Bundsen

Country: Sweden

Cast: Alexander Gustavsson, Hanna Ullerstam, Karl-Erik Franzén

After introducing his mother to his boyfriend, an angsty teenager faces an awkward car journey home. All shot in two single takes.



Director: Frederikke Aspöck

Country: Denmark

Cast: Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Mercedes Cabral, Jens Albinus

Ulrik (Jens Albinus) is the manager of a Danish fishing plant whose wife passed away years ago. One of his acquaintances suggests an arranged marriage to Rosita (Mercedes Cabral), a girl in her mid-20s from the Philippines. When Rosita arrives, the language barrier proves to be a hurdle. Complicating matters even further is Ulrik’s adult son Johannes (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, A Royal Affair), and his growing affection for the young woman. Director Frederikke Aspöck’s charming, surprising film outlines the difficulties facing women in Rosita’s predicament with a wonderful blend of compassion and humour.

Ten Metre Tower

Director: Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck

Country: Sweden

An entertaining study of human beings in a vulnerable position: to step out or climb down. Winner of Short Film Award, Goteborg Film Festival.


A War

Director: Tobias Lindholm / Read our interview with the director here

Country: Denmark

Cast: Pilou Asbæk, Tuva Novotny, Søren Malling

Asbæk (Borgen, Game of Thrones) is company commander Claus M. Pedersen stationed in an Afghan province. Back in Denmark his wife Maria tries to keep things together, caring for their three children who desperately miss their father. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences. Casting former Danish soldiers and Afghan refugees, Lindholm has created a realistic, gripping film that looks at the moral dilemmas and personal consequences faced by those in war zones. Equally adept at tension-filled scenes of armed conflict as it is with the emotional repercussions, A War is a meticulous and exceptional film.

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.