September 24 – October 9 2015: The Vancouver International Film Festival


In Your Arms

In Your Arms (I dina hænder)

Equal parts road movie, chamber play, tragedy and love story, the film follows its protagonists on an odyssey that takes them from Denmark through Germany to Switzerland. There is much to admire in the strong, sometimes naked, never sentimental acting of Carlehed and Plaugborg, sensitively captured in close-up by DoP Brian Curt Petersen, as well as the expressive editing by expert cutter Theis Schmidt. Now clearly a director to watch, debuting feature director Samanou Acheche Sahlstrøm was born in France and moved to Denmark in 2001. He started working at Lars von Trier’s Zentropa production house the following year and von Trier serves as creative producer here.



An Iceland fishing village with roads slick with blood and booze is no place for a choirboy. Ari (Atli Óskar Fjalarsson) learns that the hard way in Rúnar Rúnarsson’s bare-knuckle drama. Set during a summer of perpetual daylight, the film shows how malaise can fester in an economically depressed community in which hope is the rarest commodity. Given the increasingly shocking circumstances conspiring against him, Ari’s bid to assert himself becomes all the more compelling.

  • Director: Rúnar Rúnarsson
  • Program: Cinema of our Time / VIFF link


Rams (Hrútar)

We’re introduced to estranged brothers Gummi (Sigurdur Sigurjónsson) and Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) in the midst of their valley’s annual competition for best ram. They run adjacent farms but do not speak, bitterly trying to outdo one another as they stubbornly uphold a grudge of mysterious origin. When an incurable virus is detected among some of the animals, the authorities determine that all of the sheep must be put down, so as to avoid it spreading. A devastating blow to each brother’s livelihood as well as the pride of their town, Gummi and Kiddi deal with this tragedy in different ways, heightening the already palpable tension between them. As winter sets in, the harshly beautiful northern landscape of this remote valley becomes a character in itself, the backdrop for an intensifying decades-long feud, articulated by the icy and bleak terrain that surrounds it.


louder than bombs

Louder Than Bombs

With characteristic subtlety, Isabelle Huppert plays Isabelle Reed, a renowned war photographer whose chosen vocation often leaves her family feeling neglected. When she dies on assignment, her husband Gene (a career-best performance from Gabriel Byrne) is left to pick up the pieces, holding his family together while helping coordinate a posthumous retrospective of her work. Making matters more complicated, Isabelle’s conspicuously close colleague Richard (David Strathairn) warns Gene that he’s writing an in-depth newspaper article on her that will bring some unpleasant truths to the surface. Meanwhile, Gene’s teenage son Conrad (Devin Druid) struggles with the emotional aftermath of their loss amidst the confusion of adolescence. Older sibling Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) returns home, almost too eager to get away from his wife and baby.

Last Base

Last Base

Two base-jumpers discover how far they are willing to go to honour the memory of a close friend.


My Skinny Sister

My Skinny Sister (Min lilla syster)

A precocious tween on the cusp of sexual maturity (Rebecka Josephson, granddaughter of Bergman regular Erland Josephson) is forced to make some hard decisions when her gorgeous older sister (Amy Deasismont, aka pop star Amy Diamond) accidentally reveals that she has a serious eating disorder…


Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words (Jag är Ingrid)

The centenary of Bergman’s birth—she was born on August 29, 1915—has led to a worldwide celebration of her life and art. In New York alone, both MOMA (a retrospective) and BAM (a tribute) are celebrating the anniversary, and the Cannes Film Festival made her the “cover girl” for its 2015 catalogue and posters. Of course, the love the world feels for her now was not always the case: when, at the peak of her popularity, she left her husband and family to be with director Roberto Rossellini, the scandal was such that the US Senate, no less, said that she was, “a powerful influence for evil.”

  • Director: Stig Björkman
  • Program: Special Presentations & Style in Film / VIFF Link
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.