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The Nordic films screening at AFI Fest 2017

Festival Link

AFI Fest: 9-16 November 2017

Denmark

Winter Brothers

Living in a remote, snowy area can have a profound effect on the psyche, and working as a miner in this landscape, loner Emil struggles to fit into his hyper-masculine environment. He appears strange and awkward next to his fit and popular brother Johan. When they’re not working, they’re making and selling moonshine, and watching instructional videos on how to fire antique rifles. But when the brothers find themselves competing for the love of the only woman in town, tensions bubble over. Hypnotic, strange and beautiful, WINTER BROTHERS lures the audience in with its depiction of a life dictated by routine, only to then erupt with some of the most striking images captured on film this year.

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Finland

The Other Side of Hope

A Syrian refugee stowed away on a freighter, Khaled arrives in Helsinki soot-faced and desperate to start a new life. Meanwhile, Wikstrom is a traveling salesman in the throes of a very deadpan midlife crisis, who wins big at a poker game and decides to purchase a restaurant as a means of starting over. These two interlacing narratives dance throughout THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE in a way that only Aki Kaurismäki can choreograph: with buoyant hope and low-key hilarity. The Finnish auteur has remained remarkably consistent in his minimalist style over the years, and with THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE — which is both classically Kaurismäki and piercingly relevant to global events — he reminds us yet again of his ability to endure.

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Iceland

Cubs

A single father fulfills his young daughter’s wish to throw a slumber party.

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Norway

Thelma

A gripping psychological thriller, THELMA follows a unique young woman with two overprotective, devoutly Christian parents. As Thelma begins her journey to leave home, her parents become alarmingly nervous. More than empty nest syndrome, they’re experiencing genuine fear for mysterious reasons. Deploying modern horror’s signature tropes while also twisting them anew, the latest work from Joachim Trier features a star performance from Eili Harboe, and is an entertaining, mind-bending allegory about agency, power, gender and sexuality.

Festival Link

Cinema Scandinavia Link

What Will People Say

Sixteen-year-old Nisha lives a double life — the perfect Pakistani daughter to her strict parents, and a normal Norwegian teenager with her friends at school. One night when her father catches her and her boyfriend in her bedroom, Nisha’s two worlds brutally collide. Iram Haq’s sophomore feature is a powerful story of a young woman growing up between two cultures, with no control over her life choices, who must carve out her own path despite a significant culture clash. Lead actress Maria Mozhdah makes an impressive debut, imbuing Nisha with dueling personas. In an equally impressive role, Adil Hussain plays Nisha’s father, delicately balancing his fatherly love with the pressure of a strict society that wants to make an example of his daughter

Festival Link

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Sweden

Ten Meter Tower

A 10-meter diving tower forces people to confront their fears.

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Spoor

Polish master Agnieszka Holland delivers an animal rights murder mystery for the ages in this genre-bending pleasure. Agnieszka Mandat stars as Duszejko, a middle-aged hippie living in the Klodzko Valley, a region in Poland known for grand, heart-stoppingly beautiful forest landscapes, plentiful wildlife and a vicious hunting season. Holland lovingly photographs the forest creatures, and Duszejko’s pain is deeply felt each time a local hunter brings one of these animals a grim fate. When the hunters themselves start to turn up dead, the fiery protagonist’s personal investigation leads her to believe that the forest might be taking its revenge. SPOOR is both a visual feast and a comically tinged, gloriously twisted thriller.

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The Burden

An animated musical with apocalyptic undertones.

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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.