The Berlin Film Festival 2015

The Berlin Film Festival ended on Sunday, and boy did Scandinavian films do well! So much so that we’ve decided to write up this nice little recap of just how well we did.

Hang on, what’s this Berlin Film Festival?

Sorry, sorry, we are jumping ahead here. Every year, the Berlin Film Festival takes place in the German capital, and is regarded as one of the biggest film festivals in the world. Alongside the festival is the European Film Market, where the European countries show off their films and then proceed to buy them from each other. A lot of premieres happen in Berlin, and the one you might be most familiar with is last years premiere of Nymphomaniac, which involved Shia LeBeouf wearing the paper bag over his head and Lars von Trier wearing that infamous Cannes shirt.

The premiere of Nymphomaniac at the Berlin Film Festival
The premiere of Nymphomaniac at the Berlin Film Festival

So there you have it. Scandinavia clearly has a strong history of success at this festival, and 2015 is no different. Here is an overview as to how each country did:



We seldom delve into the world of Scandinavian kids cinema. It’s just too big and too much and too bright for our dark, gloomy, noir eyes. However, we can make exceptions, and Antboy is definitely one of them. Antboy – Revenge of the Red Fury, Ask Hasselbalch’s second film about Pelle who develops superpowers when he is bitten by a genetically engineered ant, had its international debut on Monday, 9 February, in the Berlinale’s Generation Kplus. Also in the children’s competition is Jannik Hastrup and Flemming Quist Møller’s animation feature Mini and the Mozzies, premiering Wednesday. Both films are competing for a Crystal Bear for best film, awarded by the children’s jury on Saturday, 14 February.

Besides kids cinema, there were a don of Danish documentaries at the festival. No doubt, the most well known is The Look of Silence (which you can read about in issue seven of our magazine), which is the companion piece to the widely acclaimed, The Act of Killing. Furthermore, Christian Braad Thomsen’s Fassbinder – To Love without Demands, in Panorama Dokumente, also showed at the festival. It is the director’s homage to his friend and artistic soul mate Rainer Werner Fassbinder, based on unpublished interviews he shot with Fassbinder in the 1970s. Vibeke Bryld’s Pebbles at Your Door, about a North Korean woman’s rude awakening, is in Berlinale Shorts, competing for a Golden or a Silver Bear, to be revealed Saturday evening, 14 February, at the official awards gala.

We all love Danish television, and luckily it was also on show at the festival. For the first time Danish TV dramas are part of the line-up, reflecting the festival’s focus this year on the serial format.

The first five episodes of Heartless are showing in Generation 14plus as a Special Screening on Berlinale Publikumstag Sunday, 15 February. The story about siblings Sofie and Sebastian who are subject to a centuries-old curse aired in Denmark in April and is created by director Natasha Arthy (“Fighter,” in Generation 2008) and scriptwriter Nikolaj Scherfig, who holds a strong card in writing for TV (“The Bridge”).

Follow the Money, produced by national broadcaster DR (“The Killing” and “Borgen”), world premiered at the Berlinale, screening episodes one and two in the Berlinale Special Series on Tuesday, 10 February. Written by Jeppe Gjervig Gram (“Borgen”) and directed by Per Fly (“Waltz for Monica”), the series investigates the white collar crimes behind the global fiscal crisis.

Iceland + Greenland

Oh, we’ll never forget you, our tiny, cold friends of the north. Iceland’s Virgin Mountain directed by Dagur Kári and co-produced by Nimbus Film is in Berlinale Special, and Greenland’s Sume – The Sound of a Revolution by Inuk Silis Høeg and Danish co-producer Bullitt Film screens in Panorama Dokumente as the first Greenlandic film ever to be selected for the Berlinale.


Denmark didn’t get all the attention. Sweden got a lot of love at the festival, and managed to take home some prizes. Included in the list of films shown in Berlin are The Circle, Wanja, a ton of shorts, and the television series Blue Eyes. The Swedish Film Institute have a great overview of all these films. On top of all this, there was a lovely display of Sami cinema at the festival. (Btw, our new publication features a lot of Sami cinema. Preorder now!) No less than seven Sami short films were shown during the Berlin Film Festival in cooperation with the special section “NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema”. 7 Sámi Stories is the result of the initiative of the International Sami Film Institute initiative to give Sami filmmakers a chance to reach their projects quickly and easily.

The Swedish film My Skinny Sister won best film in the Berlin Film Festival’s Generation Kplus section. The Sweden-German co-production centres on Stella, a girl entering adolescence who discovers her big sister and role model is hiding an eating disorder. Another teenage film, Flocking, won the Crystal Bear for best film in the 14plus section. The Swedish film centres on a 14-year old girl who reports she has been raped, but is not believed, leading to her entire village turns against the teenager and her family.


The Finnish short film Reunion by Iddo Soskolne and Janne Reinikainenwill be screened in the festival’s official program. Reunion is competing for the Crystal Bear prize in the Generation 14Plus competition for young audiences. The film’s first screening will be on Monday, 9 February. Reunion is produced by Mark Lwoff and Misha Jaari for Bufo Ltd.


Oh, Norway. We love you, and this little publicity stunt only made us love you more. The film Out of Nature was promoted in the streets of Berlin in the following way:

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 6.37.59 pm
Out of Nature in Berlin


Yes, you see that. Near the Cinemaxx and Berlinale Palast theatres at the Potsdamer Platz, Berliners on their afternoon walk were slightly surprised, when they met five Norwegian joggers running around wearing knitted hats, windcheaters, rucksacks, trainers and … nothing else. What was a publicity stunt staged by the promotion team behind Norwegian director Ole Giæver’s comedy drama Out of Nature (Mot nature), which is screened in the Panorama programme of the Berlin International Film Festival, was generally greeted with loud cheers – not entirely by the local authorities, though. Back in the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel – now with their trousers on –  the happy runners were met by the Berlin police, who turned out in strength, after they were called by the Berlinale security chief. They explained they did not want to see more naked Norwegians in the streets, which is generally penalised by a €50 fine.

However, this little stunt worked. The film went on to win the Europa Cinemas Label for Best European Film.

The Norwegian documentary Drone won the prestigious Cinema for Peace Award for ‘Most Valuable Documentary of the Year’, beating strong contenders such as Laura Poitras’ Oscar nominated Citizenfour. Read more at the Nordisk Film and TV Fund


Read more

Danish Film Institute

Swedish Film Institute

Nordisk Film and TV Fund

Norwegian Film Institute

Finnish Film Foundation overview of Berlin

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.