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About the festival

The Cleveland International Film Festival runs from the 4th of April until the 15th of April in Cleveland, Ohio.

https://www.clevelandfilm.org/

Denmark

THE STRANGER (En Fremmed Flytter Ind)

Documentary

Directed by Nicole Horanyi

Screening in Ad Hoc Docs Competition & ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman

Young single mother Amanda has stopped believing love exists. She goes about her life, enjoying her independence and caring for her daughter and her dog, until she is introduced to Casper on Facebook. It doesn’t take long for Amanda to fall for Casper. He seems funny and charming, well-traveled and connected. When a number of other wealthy-looking people begin to message her on Facebook about Casper, it’s revealed he is the heir to one of the richest families in Denmark. He says he isn’t interested in money or status and only wants someone to share his life with. But is Casper’s story too good to be true?

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YOU DISAPPEAR (Du forsvinder)

Feature film

Directed by Peter Schønau Fog

Screening in International Narrative Competition

When Mia’s husband Frederik is caught embezzling 12 million dollars from the school where they both work, his behavior is blamed on a brain tumor found in his frontal lobe.

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THE CHARMER (Charmøren)

Feature

Directed by Milad Alami

Screening in International Narrative Competition

Esmail is dangerously close to being thrown out of Denmark. As an Iranian immigrant without citizenship, his only hope of avoiding deportation is to find a Danish woman to marry, and soon.

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Read our interview with Milad Alami in the new issue of Cinema Scandinavia

DAN DREAM

Feature

Directed by Jesper Rofelt

Screening in International Narrative Competition

Danish comedy star Casper Christensen co-wrote and stars as Thorkil in this film based on the true story of the Hope Whisper Danish electric car from the early 80s. In DAN DREAM, Thorkil is a man ahead of his time who can never get credit for his million-dollar ideas. When he finds himself out of a job, but with a vision to make an electric car, he recruits his hapless group of friends to join him in the venture.

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THE GUILTY

Feature

Directed by Gustav Möller

Screening in International Narrative Competition

Officer Asger Holm was placed on desk assignment after a recent incident while on duty. He’s been dispatching emergency calls and longs to be back on the streets. THE GUILTY begins on what could be his final phone shift, as a court hearing the next day decides his fate. Before he clocks out, he receives a strange call from a woman who claims (through carefully coded speech) to have been kidnapped. With her captor listening, she can’t disclose much and hangs up.

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MAN DIVIDED (Qeda)

Feature

Directed by Max Kestner

Screening in International Narrative Competition

Fang Rung is a MAN DIVIDED not just by loyalties, but by time itself. The year is 2095. A catastrophic rise in both sea and sodium levels has resulted in massive species extinctions, and humanity’s outlook is bleak. Time travel, however, has been achieved. A person is split in two and one is sent back in time while the other maintains control in the present. Fang Rung is now that split person, or QEDA.

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Finland

PUNK VOYAGE (Tokasikajuttu)

Documentary

Directed by Jukka Kärkkäinen & J-P Passi

Screening in Music Movies Competition

In 2012 directors Jukka Kärkkäinen and J-P Passi made “The Punk Syndrome,” a documentary about the Finnish band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät. The members of the punk quartet, which is named after their guitarist and principle songwriter Pertti, all have mental disabilities. The group had a successful seven- year-run until breaking up in 2016 when Pertti retired from music at the age of 60.

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FUCKING BUNNIES (Saatanan kanit)

Shorts

Directed by Teemu Niukkanen

Screening in After Hours Shorts Program 4

Raimo’s comfy middle class bubble is burst when a satan worshipping sex cult moves in next door.

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A MOMENT IN THE REEDS

Feature

Directed by Mikko Makela

Screening in International Narrative Competition

On holiday from his studies in Paris, Leevi returns to his family’s summer cottage in Finland to help his father, Jouko, with renovations. Jouko is a bitter man, unreconciled to his wife’s death and to his son’s sexuality. Hired worker Tareq, a Syrian refugee trying to forge a new life, also arrives. Jouko is suddenly called back to the city for business. Distrustful of foreigners he leaves Leevi to supervise, but things take an unexpected turn.

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Read our review

STAR BOYS (Kaiken se kestää)

Feature

Directed by Visa Koiso-Kanttila

Screening in International Narrative Competition

Growing up is already confusing. It doesn’t help when your parents are swingers who host parties where their naked friends parade around the house. STAR BOYS takes place in a small, conservative town in Finland where a sexual revolution has just begun. The story is told through the perspective of two 12-year-old boys whose parents are unashamedly open about their newfound sexual liberation.

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Iceland

UNDER THE TREE

Feature

Directed by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson

Screening in International Narrative Competition

After his wife throws him out for suspected infidelity, Atli takes refuge at his parents’. But refuge it is decidedly not. He finds his parents involved in an increasingly ugly dispute over the tree in their front yard, which casts an unwanted shadow on the neighbor’s deck.

Read our interview with Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson in the new issue of Cinema Scandinavia

Norway

WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY (Hva vil folk si)

Feature Film

Directed by Iram Haq

Screening in ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman & International Narrative Competition

Sixteen-year-old Nisha is caught between two worlds. As the daughter of a conservative Pakistani family, she wants to please her parents. And as a first-generation Norwegian teenager, she wants to fit in with her peers. When Nisha begins to experiment with drugs, alcohol, and romance—all things that are considered normal coming-of-age experiences in Norway—there are extreme consequences from her strict Muslim family. Against her will, Nisha is put on a one-way flight to Pakistan and thrown into a culture she knows nothing about.

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Read our interview with Iram Haq in the new issue of Cinema Scandinavia

DRIB

Feature/Documentary

Directed by Kristoffer Borgli

Screening in Film Is Art & Nordic Adventures

Comedian and performance artist Amir Asgharnejad was known online for his viral videos of provoking fights with strangers and other outrageous public stunts. After he caught the attention of an advertising agency, the creative directors formed a campaign around Amir and his virtual persona.

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Read our interview with Kristoffer Borgli

GOING WEST (Rett vest)

Feature film

Directed by Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken

Screening in International Narrative Competition

Life hasn’t been easy for Kaspar since the loss of his mother. When he found solace in the bottle, it got him fired from his job as a music teacher. Things aren’t any better for his dad Vidar, whose house is overrun with things he has held on to. And while Vidar has always been a closet crossdresser, his penchant for women’s clothes is no longer a secret.

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PUSHING NIGHT AWAY (Det lyse mørket)

Shorts

Directed by Jade Hærem Aksnes

Screening in Shorts Program 9

A meeting between Eddie, who wants to kill himself, and Kate, who is fighting to keep herself alive.

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Sweden

UP IN THE SKY (Upp i det blå)

Shorts

Screening in New Direction Competition

Directed by Petter Lennstrand

When young Pottan’s parents mistakenly leave her at a recycling plant—thinking it was a pony camp—she gets taken in by the employees who soon make her one of their own. After a bit, Pottan comes across the crew’s secret project: a space rocket. UP IN THE SKY is a charming tale complete with hijinks, puppets, space rockets, and robots. As the recycling crew work towards building the space rocket, the group soon finds they need help from an unlikely source. Entertaining for all ages, UP IN THE SKY lives in its world and invites the audience along for the ride. Funny and engaging, it is a visionary film that does what all great family films do: makes you want to be a kid again.

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SILVANA

Documentary

Screening in ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman & Music Movies Competition

Directed by Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, Christina Tsiobanelis

Swedish rapper Silvana Imam quickly rose to fame with her blunt, uncompromising rhymes. In the span of just a year, she became a superstar. The world of hip-hop has long been male-dominated, which means she has to work even harder. Not only is she female, but also a lesbian feminist. Her politically charged anthems about destroying the patriarchy brought a whole new audience to rap. Huge crowds of young women came with fists in the air to sing along to her lyrics. The media began labeling her a hero for women and the LGBT community. The praise was nice, but the pressure of being a role model was hard to handle. She was also tired of journalists focusing only on her gender and sexuality, rather than on her musical talents. Everything started to take a toll on her mental health. But the story doesn’t end there. As you’ll see in this electrifying documentary, Silvana is a fiercely resilient badass. Every barrier put in her way gets completely obliterated. Simply put, SILVANA is the biography of your new favorite rapper.

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Read our interview with the film-makers

BEYOND DREAMS (Dröm Vidare)

Feature film

Directed by Rojda Sekersöz

Screening in ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman & International Narrative Competition

Freshly out of prison, Mirja is trying to decide which path to follow. Her best friends are criminals who are still clinging to a plan to rob a jewelry store in order to fund their exit from their boring suburban town. It’s a dream they’ve shared for years. But with a sick mother and little sister needing her care, Mirja tries to go the honest route for once. She lands a job at a local hotel, much to the chagrin of her friends, who become resentful she’s no longer interested in their schemes. They see her as a sellout. But for Mirja the straight-laced life isn’t so bad. She’s finally made her mom proud. Still, she desperately misses her friends. To win their approval, she’d have to return to the shady world she’s tried so hard to escape. Soon, a sobering tragedy will force her to make a decision. It will also reveal who her true friends really are. Evin Ahmad is absolutely stellar as a brave but delicate young woman at the crossroads of her life in BEYOND DREAMS.

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Read our interview with the director

Read our review

TEN METER TOWER (Hopptornet)

Short film

Directed by Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck

Screening in Shorts Program 7

An entertaining study of human behavior.

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BLIND ALLEY (Den Enda Vägen)

Feature film

Directed by Manuel Concha

Screening in International Narrative Competition

On a cold evening in urban Sweden, brothers Michel and Alex are innocently talking in a parked car when a masked gunman fires on them and flees. They both survive the attack, but Alex is paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors say his only chance for recovery is an expensive procedure. Both brothers are blue-collar workers and it would take ages to come up with the cash. Despite reports that link a series of shootings to an immigrant-hating madman, people around Michel and Alex are convinced they must have been shot because they’re involved in some sort of criminal activity. This erroneous assumption leads Michel’s boss to fire him and the local police to become suspicious. The chain of events puts a major dent in Michel’s ambitious plan to save up for his brother’s surgery—a plan he’s kept secret from Alex. Will Michel become the criminal everyone thinks he is in order to save his brother? In the explosive, roller-coaster action-thriller BLIND ALLEY, nothing can break the powerful bond of brotherhood.

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BLOODY MARY

Shorts

Directed by Alexander Ronnberg

Screening in After Hours Shorts Program 1

We all know the legend, but do you dare say her name three times….?

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THE BURDEN (Min Börda)

Shorts

Directed by Niki Lindroth von Bahr

Screening in After Hours Shorts Program 2 & Animated Shorts Program

A dark musical enacted in a modern market place, situated next to a large freeway.

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FILIPPA

Shorts

Directed by Alexander Ronnberg

Screening in After Hours Shorts Program 3

A father comes home after work, and his daughter wants to play. But is it really his daughter?

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FIRST LIKE

Shorts

Directed by Alexander Ronnberg

Screening in After Hours Shorts Program 4

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BORG/MCENROE

Feature

Directed by Janus Metz

Closing Night Film

In terms of temperament, they were opposites: one a paragon of cool containment, the other a volcano of visceral emotion. But they had something in common: they were the best. Featuring immersive performances from Sverrir Gudnason, Shia LaBeouf, and Stellan Skarsgärd, BORG VS. MCENROE is sports drama as psychological thriller. Helmed by Danish director Janus Metz, the film recreates the legendary 1980 Wimbledon Championship match between tennis savants Björn Borg and John McEnroe, as well as the media frenzy surrounding it and the private angst experienced by the players and their coterie. By 1980, Sweden’s Borg (Gudnason) has already won Wimbledon four times. He is 24 years old, adored, wealthy, and engaged to be married. Yet despite his serene public persona, Borg has been tormented by anxiety all his life. His opponent, New Yorker John McEnroe (LaBeouf), is a wizard on the court, a whirlwind of fury and precision. The public loves to loathe McEnroe, who on the court can explode at any moment into tantrums of expletive-laden insults directed at umpires and spectators alike. But McEnroealso suffers mental anguish. Both men will bring their immense talents —and inner demons—with them when they finally face off in one of the most suspenseful events in tennis history. Darting between evocative flashbacks and an electrifying present tense, BORG VS. MCENROE thrills us with feats of athletic mastery—and activates our empathy with insights into what it takes to win.

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