The Nordic films screening at the Berlin Film Festival 2018

About the festival

The Berlin International Film Festival is one of the world’s largest festivals for international film. Nordic film has a long history of screening at the festival, and this year is no different. Erik Poppe’s new film about the Norwegian terrorist attacks, U – July 22, and the Swedish film The Real Estate will compete in the Competition, and Pernille Fischer Christiansen’s Young Astrid will screen in the Special Gala section.

When? 15 – 25 February 2018

Where? Berlin, Germany

Website: https://www.berlinale.de/en/HomePage.html



Directed by Lars von Trier

Screening in Homage

After the accidental death of their son, a couple withdraws to the seclusion of an isolated cabin in the woods. The woman experiences feelings of guilt for the child’s accident; her husband, a psychotherapist, uses discussion and exercises in an attempt to ameliorate her pathological fear. But instead of alleviating her grief and pain, it drives her to even greater despair. Her manic impulses are initially self-destructive, but eventually she turns violently on her therapist … In Lars von Trier’s dark psychological horror film, a married couple literally tears each other apart. Willem Dafoe gives an intense portrayal of a loving husband who has difficulty getting his emotions under control with the rationality he needs to provide therapy for his wife. His striking face reflects his concern for his obsessed wife just as credibly as his horror when she turns into a raging fury. Equally brilliant is Dafoe’s mastery of the physical demands of the role, a man who ultimately undergoes terrible torment.

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Circleen, Coco and the Wild Rhinoceros (Cirkeline, Coco og det vilde næsehorn)

Directed by Jannik Hastrup

Danish veteran animator Jannik Hastrup returns to Generation to present the fourth big screen adventure of matchbox-sized heroine Cirkeline. Once again we are taken on a journey: this time in the company of Princess Coco and a temperamental baby rhino. They both want to return to their homeland somewhere in Africa. Without further ado, Cirkeline and her mouse friends decide to go with them – each with their own unique ideas about the continent in tow. Do chocolate bars grow on trees over there? Is there enough cheese in Africa? Will the little rhino find his mother? Hastrup has created a vibrant, colourful world, once again showing that travelling can open your eyes – and that you may also end up in a completely different place than you expected.

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Denmark (Danmark)

Directed by Kasper Rune Larsen

Screening in Generation 14plus

Norge and his friends live in the moment: drinking, smoking and partying; always with something to talk about. When 16-year-old Josephine tells Norge that she is pregnant, there is only brief moment of silence. As they grow tentatively closer, the two young people start to develop feelings which challenge their previously held views of life and of themselves – although ‘love’ is not necessarily a word they would think to use. The camera attentively registers gestures and glances, observing what the two bodies and faces are saying, or sometimes not saying, to each other. Without judgement and with respectful proximity, Kasper Rune Larsen’s debut film paints a realistic portrait of young people and the complex multiplicity of their realities.

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Directed by Mikael Marcimain

Screening in Berlinale Series

Scandinavian businessmen and development workers relax on their farms in Tanzania. Some use local conditions for self-enrichment, others try to make a difference in the development sector – but they are all ignoring the needs of the country’s population.

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Solar Walk

Directed by Réka Bucsi

Screening in Berlinale Shorts

Flags are planted. Hands are held. First steps are taken on new worlds. And then the giant lets out a stream of black piss and pees a brand new universe. Reason enough for the two creatures who landed in the new spot with the giant to jump into the vast blackness. Love in outer space. They become one with the new world. Solar Walk follows the journey of individuals and their creations in space.

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The Incredible Story of the Giant Pear (Den utrolige historie om den kæmpestore pære)

Directed by Philip Einstein Lipski, Amalie Næsby Fick, Jørgen Lerdam

Screening in Generation Kplus

Mitcho and Sebastian are tickled when they fish a message in a bottle out of the sea. Inside the two find a letter from JB, the vanished Mayor of Solby, and a seed that grows into a giant pear overnight. After fleeting trials and tribulations, the huge piece of fruit is repurposed as a sailboat. Soon, anxious Sebastian, hydrophobic Mitcho and mad Professor Glykose take to the open sea, setting their course for a mysterious spot where they suspect JB might be found. Alas, the fact that no one has ever returned from their island destination is more than a bit foreboding. This fast-paced animated adventure brilliantly captures the rich imagination and humour of the beloved children’s book by Danish author Jakob Martin Strid upon which it is based.

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Two Basilicas

Directed by Heinz Emigholz

Danish/German co-production

Confrontation and comparison of two church buildings, which could hardly be more different, but also a dialogue between various concepts of church and community: the Protestant Grundtvig’s Church in Copenhagen and the Catholic Cathedral in Orvieto. The cathedral in the central square in the middle of the city of Orvieto, with its visual histories in the interior and on the façade, and the imposing brick building of the church on the edges of Copenhagen, which forms the center of a housing complex of like-minded persons. Both radiate into their surroundings, the cathedral from great heights into the mountains around, the church itself like a rock in the flat land. The cathedral as a community achievement of great craftsmanship and the church like a strictly constructed dogma. Horizontal meets vertical, north meets south, mysticism meets joie de vivre, Protestantism meets Catholicism, clarity meets complexity, however they are distributed when it is a matter of the ideology of holy sites and the reflection and contemplation made possible inside them: the beauty of craftsmanship and political intentions.

Vermine (Vermin)

Directed by Jeremie Becquer

Screening in Generation 14plus (short films)

Everything is back to normal’ announces the voice over the loudspeaker, following a disruption in the metro system. But what is ‘normal’? And for whom? Hubert, a poet, falls victim to racist police violence. In this hybrid animated short, rats find themselves in a society dominated by white mice: an allegory and trenchant observation. ‘Je marche, je marche’ – thus the poet continues on his path after the attack.

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What Walaa Wants

Directed by Christy Garland

Canadian/Danish co-production

Screening in Generation 14plus

Having grown up in a refugee camp while her mother was incarcerated in an Israeli prison, Walaa doesn’t want to marry young and start having children, nor is she much interested in school. She’d rather be a police officer, with the Palestinian National Authority, the body governing the Palestinian territories. The documentary follows this defiant and resilient young woman over the course of over five years, from age 15 to 21. Always maintaining a level playing field with her young protagonist, Christy Garland gives an intimate look at the rebellious girl fighting at times uncontrollably but tenaciously for her dream.

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Screening in Generation 14plus

Directed by Maria Solrun

German/Icelandic/Mexican co-production

Windows thrown wide open, the music of Adam’s mother reverberates across the Berlin courtyard. The heavy bass makes him feel connected to her. Other than that, the worlds of the hearing-impaired young man and his techno producer mum seldom overlap. She’s ill, hospitalised with irreversible brain damage due to alcohol abuse, according to the doctors. Adam is left to fend for himself. He manages to forge connections in the outside world, falls in love and sets out in search of his father. With each step he is dogged by his mother’s wish to be put out of her misery should she become unable to care for herself. Adam copes with all this in his very own, laconic way and director Maria Solrun gives him a voice and plenty of space to grow.

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Ploey: You’ll Never Fly Alone

Screening in the European Film Market

Directed by Árni Ólafur Ásgeirsson

Icelandic/Belgian co production

In order to survive the cruel winter months a young flightless plover chick must take on a dangerous journey to find a legendary valley located in the heart of the highlands while trying to stay hidden from the ever-watchful eyes of a ravenous falcon who has been terrorizing his family and friends for years.


Home Ground (Heimebane)

Directed by Arild Andresen

Screening in Berlinale Series

A football coach leaves her successful women’s football team to become the first female coach of a Norwegian premier league men’s team. She wages a fight against ingrained bias and is out to prove that women are every bit as good as men.

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Directed by Liss-Anett Steinskog

Screening in Generation 14plus

There are a couple of things Rikke would like to tell him: that she thinks of him a lot, more than any other boy in her class; that she finds him really cute; that they are more than just friends. Maybe not that he is good at football – he already knows that. And yet when he asks her, that’s the first thing that pops into her head. It’s funny how things turn out. You talk, you kiss, and it’s all so different to what you had envisioned.

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Los Bando 

Directed by Christian Lo

Screening in Generation 14plus

Even when they were young, best friends Axel and Grim dreamed of making musical history with their band ‘Los Bando Immortale’. One day they receive an invitation to take part in the Norwegian Rock Championship – and suddenly it seems that anything is possible. The only problem is, Axel can’t sing. And because Grim can’t bring himself to tell the truth, they end up on a musical road trip to the far north – along with Thilda, a 9-year-old cellist, and Martin, a rally driver. When they find themselves caught up in a hair-raising car chase, it becomes clear that the journey symbolizes an escape for each of them. With every passing kilometre the group of youngsters grows closer, heading triumphantly for the grand finale.

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Threads (Tråder)

Directed by Torill Kove

Screening in Generation 14plus

Following her Oscar-nominated short film The Danish Poet (Generation 2006), the Canadian-Norwegian film maker Torill Kove makes her return to Generation with this light, playful and tender take on human relationships. As time flies by, the relationship between a mother and her daughter is transformed – yet it remains somehow the same. Holding tight and letting go, strengthening and loosening the invisible bonds of love and trust.

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U – July 22 (Utøya Juli 22)

Directed by Erik Poppe

Screening in Competition

On 22 July 2011 five hundred young people attending a summer camp on the island of Utøya were attacked by a heavily armed right-wing extremist. The murderous attack claimed the lives of 69 victims. It was a trauma that rocked Norway to the core, and still does to this day. Director Erik Poppe has dared to attempt to turn the events of that summer into a film. His drama opens with documentary footage of Oslo where, shortly beforehand, the same attacker had exploded a car bomb killing eight people; the scene then shifts to the island. The camera follows 19-year-old Kaja who is spending a few days of the holiday here with her young sister Emilie. The two are quarrelling because Emilie is in no mood for the camp and has absolutely no desire to go to the barbecue. And so Kaja ends up going alone. Suddenly, the first gunshot is heard.
This first shot marks the beginning of a breathless 72-minute-long reconstruction of events, filmed in a single take, as seen through the eyes of the victims. Kaja’s desperate search for Emilie. The fear in the eyes of the young people. Their escape into the forest. Their desperate hope of rescue. And the unknown assassin, getting closer and closer.

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Wild Relatives

Directed by Jumana Manna

Screening in Forum

Deep in the earth beneath the Norwegian permafrost, seeds from all over the world are stored in the Global Seed Vault to provide a backup should disaster strike. For the first time ever, seeds held there from a major gene bank in Aleppo are now being replicated, after its holdings were left behind when the institution had to move to Lebanon due to the civil war. It is refugees from Syria who are carrying out this painstaking work in the fields of the Beqaa Valley. In the Levant, dry conditions and the power of global agricultural corporations are the biggest challenge, while in the Arctic Circle – where the seed vault was supposed to withstand anything – it is rising temperatures and melting glaciers.

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Gordon & Paddy

Directed by Linda Hambäck

Screening in Generation Kplus

As benevolent, work-weary Detective Gordon bites into an afternoon biscuit, the frog’s mind is filled with visions of retirement. For many years he’s kept the peace in his forest community, while protecting its citizens from the dreaded fox. In his eyes, the clever and ambitious mouse Paddy would make an excellent successor. But as soon as he has sworn her in she finds herself facing her first challenge: two young animals have gone missing and the others are in a panic. Will Paddy be a match for the fox? Based on the book series by Ulf Nilsson and Gitte Spee, with a sly nod to the Scandinavian detective fiction genre and featuring the voice of Stellan Skarsgård, this film explores what it means to grow into roles, challenge prejudices and uncover truths.

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I Ruhrområdet

Directed by Peter Nestler

Screening in Shorts Special Programme

I Ruhrområdet is one of the most revolting slices of German reality that I have seen on screen. The reality of the Ruhrgebiet, the reality of German communism, the reality of the filmmaker Nestler, who we all drove out of the country – German television, which took the possibility to work away from him, the board of trustees that refused to give him money, the critics, who devoted a few anxiously benevolent sentences to his work at best. I Ruhrområdet is the document of a terrible frustration, comparable only with Straub’s Not Reconciled. Nestler confronts the viewer with images from the Ruhr area. Images and voices that seem as if frozen. It is the panorama view of a defeat. They sit at tables with clean tablecloths and in front of consoles in white shirts and neckties and speak in ossified phrases about the struggle against the Kapp Putsch and fascism, sometimes there are two, sometimes three old men. Nestler doesn’t allow the viewer scorn or pity, only rage.’ Enno Patalas, 1968

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Directed by Olivia Kastebring, Julia Gumpert, Ulrika Bandeira

Screening in Generation 14plus

Juck is sex. Juck is energy. Juck is protest. Juck is therapy. Juck is action. Juck is dominance. Juck is provocation. Juck is tolerance. Juck is movement. Juck is fantasy. Juck is arousal. Juck is utopia. Juck is seeing one’s self, even if it’s tough. Juck is not apologizing for existing. ‘Femininity is a word that we can fill up with whatever we want,’ they say. They fill it up with Juck.

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That Summer

Directed by Göran Hugo Olsson

Screening in Panorama Dokumente

In the summer of 1972 Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ young sister, decides to make a film with the photographer Peter Beard about her childhood on Long Island. When Albert and David Maysles join the crew however, the film’s focus soon shifts to Radziwill’s cousin Edith Bouvier Beale and her mother Edith Ewing Bouvier. These two eccentric grandes dames inhabit a dilapidated property on the East Hampton coast from which they are about to be evicted by the authorities. Whilst a few years later, the Maysles turned their image of the two women into their classic documentary Grey Gardens, the original footage of that summer remained lost for decades.

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The Real Estate (Toppen av ingenting)

Directed by Axel Petersén, Måns Månsson

Screening in Competition

After a life of luxury financed by her father, 68-year-old Nojet inherits one of his apartment buildings in Stockholm’s city centre. This lady of leisure returns from the sunny south to her homeland, but instead of a well-organised state of affairs, she finds total chaos. Her half-brother and his son, who is not averse to hitting the bottle and other excesses, have seriously neglected their caretaker role. The building is in a wretched state and full of tenants without a single legal contract between them. Nojet seeks advice from her old friend Lex, the family lawyer-cum-music producer who is in the throes of organising a gala for homeless people. He proposes selling the building to an estate agent. The latter shows an interest at first, but Nojet’s supposedly future-proof inheritance is increasingly proving to be something of a curse. At the heart of Toppen av ingenting is a woman who is still living the good life of yesteryear and just doesn’t want the party to end. The situation in which Nojet now finds herself feels, to her, like a surreal nightmare. She plays the role of businesswoman and femme fatale and ends up becoming a warrior in her own cause.

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Tweener (Ringen)

Directed by Julia Thelin

Screening in Generation Kplus

Just because they go all out when they’re wrestling doesn’t mean that Jaana and Bettan aren’t still best friends. It’s simple: A wrestler can only improve by training with a strong partner, and Jaana is set on making the jump to the advanced squad. Alas, Bettan appears to have chosen this of all moments to lose her focus a bit. Instead of training she prefers to try out a couple new dance moves. She even lets a boy beat her at practice!

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Young Astrid

Directed by Pernille Fischer Christensen

Screening in Berlin Special Gala

Astrid and her siblings count themselves lucky to be growing up on their parents’ parsonage farm in Vimmerby. Although their daily routine is shaped by strict religious values, their mother Hanna and father Samuel always manage to give them security and a sense of freedom. Astrid’s parents enable her to attend a secondary school that would normally be the preserve of wealthy bourgeois kids, and they do not get in the way of the 18-year-old when the owner of the local newspaper offers her a position as a volunteer in the editorial office. Not only does Reinhold Blomberg teach her to proof-read and write texts, he also falls in love with her. When she becomes pregnant, Astrid makes a momentous decision: she refuses to marry him and instead decides to take care of herself and her son Lasse on her own.

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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.