The Berlin Film Festival 11/02/2016 – 21/02/2016

The Berlin International Film Festival is the primary festival in Europe, with 400 films per year – mostly international or European premieres. This year Scandinavia is heavily represented with the Danish film The Commune by Thomas Vinterberg, and the Swedish film A Serious Game by Pernilla August.

You can view the full list of films below:


Splitting Up Together

Directed by Mette Heeno & Hella Joof // Starring Maria Rossing, Peter Plaugborg, Stine Schrøder Jensen, Katrine Greis-Rosenthal & Esben Dalgaard

Imagine having to tell your friends that you are splitting up but they refuse to believe you. Line and Martin are having a hard time of it and, although they are now living on separate floors of their house, they seem unable to disentangle their lives.


Directed by Ali Abbasi // Starring Ellen Dorrit Petersen & Cosmina Stratan

Danish couple Louise and Kasper live a secluded life in close contact with nature. Their house lies in a lonely spot in a forest by a lake; there is neither electricity nor mobile phone reception – something Elena, their young home help from Romania, still has to get used to. Once in a while she uses the only telephone at the house to call her young son who is growing up far away with her parents. Louise is very weak; she has just suffered a miscarriage and is now no longer able to have children. In order to realise her greatest dream, to be a mother, she makes a pact with Elena: if Elena concedes to act as a surrogate mother and give birth to Louise’s child, she will be handsomely paid. Elena agrees. But when the embryo that has been placed in her womb begins to grow far too quickly, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary pregnancy. Tensions grow and the two women lock horns in a bitter power struggle. And the horror is far from being over with the birth. Dark forces are unleashed in this genre piece which alludes in its title to the classic horror film Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

The Commune

The Commune

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg // Starring Trine Dyrholm, Ulrich Thomsen & Helene Reingaard Neumann

Erik, a lecturer in architecture, inherits his father’s large old house in Hellerup, north of Copenhagen. His wife Anna, a well-known television newscaster, suggests that they invite their friends to come and live with them. In this way she hopes to evade the boredom that has begun to seep into their marriage. Before long, a dozen women, men and children move into the country house, make collective decisions, engage in discussions and go swimming together in the nearby Øresund strait. They also rub each other up the wrong way on account of their smaller and larger idiosyncrasies. Their fragile equilibrium threatens to come undone when Erik falls in love with his student Emma and the young woman moves into the house. Fourteen-year-old Freja, daughter of Erik and Anna, aloofly observes these goings-on and seeks her own way.



Directed by Mika Taanila

After returning from a lengthy business trip to Tokyo, a nameless protagonist is inexplicably stuck at a hotel nearby the Helsinki airport. Not only that, he is also stuck in an endless loop of multi-tasking, his awareness split up, and his activities constantly divided into several directions at once. Various technical devices demand his attention, such as phones, computers, and heart rate monitors. His consciousness is modified; his time-management disintegrates.



A Serious Game

Directed by Pernilla August // Starring Sverrir Gudnason, Karin Franz Körlof, Liv Mjönes, Michael Nyqvist & Mikkel Boe Følsgaard

Stockholm at the beginning of the twentieth century. Lydia, the daughter of a landscape painter, and Arvid, a young journalist at the beginning of his career, fall in love at first sight. But the time is not ripe for their happiness: after the sudden death of her father, Lydia finds herself without an inheritance. Believing that he has nothing to offer her, penniless Arvid, who comes from a poor background, shies away from the idea of marriage. They part. When they meet again ten years later – both are now married and have children – they embark upon a passionate affair with unforeseeable consequences.

Director, actor and writer Pernilla August’s adaptation of Hjalmar Söderberg’s classic 1912 novel of the same title is based on a screenplay by Lone Scherfig (Italian for Beginners, An Education). The topic under debate is the eternal question of true love. Is it merely a dream or can it ever be experienced? A romance about two people who transcend the morals of their time and discover their own, unexpected ways of fulfilling their emotions.

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.