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The Nordic films screening at Visions du Réel 2018

About the festival

Visions du Réel is one of the only Swiss film festivals to present a majority of its films as world or international premieres. It also offers the unique opportunity to meet the film directors, which are present at each first screening of the films. The Festival is also a stepping stone for new talent. The prestigious Oscars and the European Film Awards academies have opened their doors to films screened at Visions du Réel.

Source: Visions du Reel website

The festival takes place in Nyon, Switzerland, between the 13th and 21st of April 2018.

Denmark

THE NIGHT WE FELL / Den Nat Vi Faldt

Screening in International Competition

Directed by Cille Hannibal

Mette is in love with Per and, when she marries him, he becomes the stepfather and mentor of her daughter, Cille, the director of this film. Suddenly, Per dies in a banal accident. And life… life continues, after all…
It is at this exact moment that Cille decides to film her mother’s grieving process. And she also captures the void left behind by he who has gone. Her camera records this invisible intersection point represented by death, and how it brings a mother and her daughter closer together.
The film is constructed like a grieving diary over a year, a tool to understand the incomprehensible. And film here is revealed as the only form of dialogue possible between the director and her mother, a silent and therapeutic form of speech. Always at the right distance, her camera dares to film the most profound pain, heartbreak, and even love. And it is perhaps thanks to this elegant mise en scène that the film is not only a diary of grief, but also a celebration of life.

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THE MIGRANT IMAGE

Screening in Opening Scenes

Directed by Stefan Kruse

By following a fictional group of refugees across Europe, the film questions the overproduction of images surrounding real-life tragedies and deaths. Each segment of the project takes its cue from the destination of the refugees, from the Mediterranean Sea to being stuck in a warehouse somewhere in Belgrade. Where do all these images about refugees come from? How do they reshape the geography of Europe?

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Finland

ON DESTRUCTION AND PRESERVATION / Tuhoutumisesta ja säilyttämisestä

Screening in International Competition

Directed by Maija Blåfield

Just what can there be in common between the reproduction of mushrooms—filmed like the height of eroticism—, the melting ice in the Arctic, a suitcase sinking in the ocean or even the story of the oldest eel in the world, a prisoner at the bottom of a well? Over these apparently independent but secretly connected tableaux, Maija Blåfield uses subtle, funny and sometimes disconcerting irony to revisit the clichés of doomsday films and the host of questions, as practical as they are existential, that accompanies them. She offers us an all-new approach to science-fiction, full of details to scrutinise. In this surprising film, there is nothing spectacular, but rather an elegant displacement of the contemporary anxieties that the director accurately explores. A reflection on an announced apocalypse from which nothing is missing, not even its cursed prophet who for all we know may be a madman or a saviour—in any case, he is a human and a potential guide in this suspended life, this in-between state which is shared by us all, on the eve of our possible disappearance.

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ENTREPRENEUR / Yrittäjä

Screening in Latitudes

Directed by Virpi Suutari

Entrepreneurs get a bad name nowadays. Some of them deserve it. But there are exceptions to the rule. People who love their job and try to make the best with what they have. Renown Finnish director Virpi Suutari tells the stories of ordinary people with extraordinary vision and skills with a warm and sympathetic human touch. Ordinary adventures in a world that becomes increasingly difficult. In the countryside, going from village to village, there is a little family selling meat out of a small truck and running on the side a tiny funfair. Life is not easy for them, but customers are loyal, and they somehow manage to survive with their work. So, while one family is struggling, two well educated women who have created a vegetable protein called Pulled Oat are on their way to be millionaires. The film juxtaposes two different ways of living and surviving in the broader context of the post-modern neo-liberal capitalistic society. If money does not make you happy, it can certainly help buy some peace of mind.

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OVER THE LIMIT

Screening in Grand Angle

Directed by Marta Prus

Armed with a ball or a ribbon, attired in a sequined leotard, her determined gaze fixed on the floor, Rita arches her lower back and launches herself under the lights and the eyes of the audience. Rita is a high-level Russian rhythmic gymnast. At 20 years old, her career will soon be over. Under the ruthless gaze of her coaches, she is aiming for one last stage: to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.
Her daily routine is governed by extreme tension; the search for perfection is its only dictate. The film strives to make us feel the state of pressure that Rita is under at every moment. Constantly on edge, her body and her mental condition tested, locked away in the gymnasia or cold corridors of international sports complexes, Rita is on the verge of tears. She is caught between the ambitious demands of her two coaches. And the editing, which is every bit as mastered as Rita’s choreographic sequences, is what keeps the film under pressure, using the explosive, although smouldering, relationships of this trio.

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Norway

AMAL

Screening in Latitudes

Directed by Mohamed Siam

“One day, there will be a revolution in Egypt. Do what you want, don’t be afraid.” A confidence from a father to his daughter, before dying without having seen the waves of “Arab Springs” unfurl upon his country. Amal, the heir to this paternal prophecy, was too young to demonstrate in 2011. With all the spirit of her fifteen years, she nonetheless wormed her way into the very masculine world of the “ultras” of Cairo, who continued the fight in the name of an unfinished liberation that was already dearly paid for. It was during this period that Mohamed Siam met and filmed her, over six years, in the “post-Tahrir Square” turbulence and the first disillusionments of the Morsi era, followed by General Sissi’s counter-revolutionary coup d’état. A real documentary initiatory novel, Amal is devoted to the parabolic trajectory of a teenager towards adulthood, and captures her successive transformations like a metaphorical body: that of an entire society, still in search of its hard-to-find emancipation from old patriarchal structures whose foundations seem to have been hardly shaken.

GOLDEN DAWN GIRLS / Hatets vugge

Screening in Grand Angle

Directed by Håvard Bustnes

In 2012, twenty candidates from the Golden Dawn ultranationalist party were elected to the Greek parliament: they are all behind bars today. Their trial, according to commentators the most important since that of the Colonels in 1974, began in September 2017. The leaders are accused of running a “criminal organisation” rather than a political party. It is suspected, among other things, of having murdered the rapper Pavlos Fyssas in 2013. Keen to understand what happened in the “blue paradise” where he used to spend his holidays as a child, Håvard Bustnes filmed the wives, mothers and daughters of the three main leaders of Golden Dawn, just before the 2015 elections. A complicated undertaking, in so much that conversations in front of the camera are often “reframed” by the protagonists, whereas the filmmaker’s voiceover compares what the Golden Dawn Girls say in the private/public space of the film with televisual archive materials. In taking a portrait of these “Penelopes” who are awaiting the return of their men, Bustnes brings to light the pyramidal and military operation of one of the most dangerous Neo-Nazi parties in Europe.

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Sweden

SILVANA

Screening in Grand Angle

Directed by Christina Tsiobanelis, Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring

Silvana Imam is a feminist icon in Sweden. With her engaged rap, she is having real impact on the youth who are treating her inflammatory lyrics against racism, machismo and patriarchal society like militant hymns. She is announcing a lesbian revolution, and becoming the representative of a generation ready to fight against the injustices of a country that is starting to veer dangerously towards the extreme right.
Silvana and her companion, pop star Beatrice Eli, form an explosive partnership. Photos of the couple are displayed everywhere as if they were advertising product. They are the subject of reports and TV shows, they give huge concerts… The couple have become a real social phenomenon. The film follows a star who is bursting forth, and begins a reflection on the intimacy of a woman who did not set out to become a political leader, even less so a mass phenomenon. We witness moments of success but also of solitude-sometimes Silvana would like to be just like any other girl.

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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.