The Baltic-Nordic Film Festival 12/02/2016 – 21/02/2016


Taking place in Canada over the next nine days is the Bright Lights Baltic-Nordic Film Festival. You find out more info about the festival, or perhaps pick up some tickets, here.

The festivals brings eight films to Ottawa, and here are those eight films:

The Abyss

“A love triangle leads to adventure, turmoil, and unsavoury behaviour. According to the (always-true) Wikipedia, Asta Nielsen’s performance catapulted her to international fame, but because of the overt eroticism of her portrayal of Magda Vang, the film was originally censored in the United States.”

The Shooter

The Danish government has made a deal with American oil companies to drill in Northeast Greenland. Having campaigned on an environmentalist platform, the government now tries to sell the idea to the public as an eco-friendly initiative. Mia Moesgaard (Trine Dyrholm) is a journalist and political commentator haranguing the government for breaking its promises. She is soon whirled into political activist Rasmus’ (Kim Bodnia) struggle to thwart the deal and make the politicians honour their commitment to green policies. A former Olympic marksman, Rasmus’ strategy of resistance soon involves guns and grows ever more dangerous.

Louder Than Bombs

Gene Reed (Gabriel Byrne) is an aging high-school teacher who, while grappling with the sudden death of his photojournalist wife Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert), is also experiencing difficulties connecting with his youngest son Conrad (Devin Druid), a shy loner who finds his only outlet on the internet. When eldest son Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg), a promising young academic, returns to the family home after the birth of his first child, Gene seizes upon the opportunity to try and mend the painful rifts in the family. This last-chance bid for reconciliation is made all the more compelling by an upcoming, posthumous exhibition of Isabelle’s work, which may lead to a public revelation of some of the Reed family’s darkest secrets.

The Story of the Baltic University

In a totally devastated northern German city during the fall of 1945, refugee professors of the Baltic countries that had lost everything decided to create a university. Without no funding whatsoever, their idea miraculously became a plan for the Baltic University, which opened its doors in March 1946. The story of the extraordinary institution is told by former students of the three Baltic countries through interviews, rare footage, documents and photos that construct a picture of a unique educational institution that rose from the ashes of war.

Escaping Riga

An imaginative experiment in historical reconstruction, RIGA is a quasi-documentary drawing on the parallel lives of legendary filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and celebrated philosopher Isaiah Berlin. Eisenstein and Berlin are both born in Riga to wealthy families at the start of the 20th century. They spend childhoods in Latvia and Leningrad, witnessing the birth of the Soviet Union first hand. But they take radically different paths in the early 1920s, when Berlin’s Jewish family relocates to London, fleeing anti-Semitism and an increasingly oppressive communist regime. Meanwhile, Eisenstein embraces Soviet ideology with passionate fervor, moving to Moscow and revolutionizing cinema with groundbreaking films.

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words

One of Hollywood’s most radiant and beloved European imports, Ingrid Bergman becomes more of an icon with every passing year. This elegant and lovingly crafted film (made in the centenary of her birth) is about one of the cinema’s most luminous and enchanting presences, composed from her letters and diaries, the memories of her children (Pia Lindström and Isabella, Ingrid, and Roberto Rossellini), and a few close friends and colleagues (including Liv Ullmann and Sigourney Weaver), photographs, and moments from thousands of feet of Super-8 and 16mm footage shot by Bergman herself throughout the years. Stig Björkman’s focus is not on Bergman the star but on Bergman the woman and mother: orphaned at 13, drawn to acting on the stage and then on film, sailing for Hollywood at 24 and then leaving it all behind for a new and different life with Roberto Rossellini. Björkman’s film is a remarkable portrait of a truly independent woman, an utterly captivating look at the life of a young Swedish girl who became one of the most celebrated actresses of American and world cinema. Music by Michael Nyman.

2 Nights Till Morning

An unusual romantic drama about a one-night stand between two strangers, who unexpectedly become stranded together in Vilnius when an ash cloud from a volcano prevents all flights from taking off. By chance, a Finnish man and a French woman meet away from home, in a foreign country – they immediately connect, even though they don’t have a common language. Eventually, they settle on the power of wordlessness and make the most of their evening. After an intense affair, they decide to go their separate ways, but, of course, they are now stuck by circumstances beyond their control. What happens during their extended stay will change their lives forever. An extraordinary film with incredible performances by Finnish star Mikko Nousiainen and Canadian actress Marie-Josée Croze.


In a remote Icelandic farming valley, two brothers who haven’t spoken in 40 years have to come together in order to save what’s dearest to them – their sheep. Despite the fact that they live on neighbouring farms, Gummi and Kiddi have not spoken to one another in four decades. Their rivalry reaches its height once a year in the valley’s annual competition for best ram, which Kiddi has won several times. After once again losing the prize to the hard-living Kiddi, the solitary Gummi spots a dead sheep in Kiddi’s field, and begins to notice symptoms of the lethal and highly contagious disease in his neighbour’s flock. Veterinary authorities quickly arrive in the valley and decide that drastic measures are needed to stop the contagion. This dire situation soon forces the two brothers to work together. But can they? Winner of the prestigious Prix Un Certain Regard at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and critically acclaimed the world over, RAMS is an extraordinary film.


This charming, finely observed, and unusual road movie revolves around a middle-aged and washed-up singer named Punk, who finds himself no longer of much interest to anyone. After his brush with fame, it only took a few years of drugs and alcohol abuse for him to reach rock bottom. After yet another small town concert, Punk ends up spending the night backstage, drunk and alone. When he opens his eyes in the morning, however, he sees a little girl, who introduces herself as his daughter. After some initial awkwardness, Punk and his daughter set out on a road trip together — a trip that will change their lives forever, and in some very unexpected ways.




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.