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Located in one of the northernmost cities in the world roughly 350 kilometres above the Arctic Circle, this years Tromsø International Film Festival has kicked off with the premiere of the documentary Tongue Cutters, sirected by Solveig Melkeraaen.

Set in the northern fishing village of Myre, Tongue Cutters follows ten-year-old Tobias, one of the many children who work as cod tongue cutters. Considered a delicacy in China and Japan, in Norway cod tongues are everyday food; and now nine-year-old Ylva from Oslo wants to learn this new skill while visiting her grandparents.

The closing film at the festival will be the Norwegian premiere of US director Damien Chazelle’s musical dramedy La La Land, which won seven Golden Globes last week.

With 60,619 admissions last year, the festival takes place during the afternoons and dark polar nights. The films are screened at five theatre venues as well as an outdoor snow cinema in Tromsø’s main square.

The competition this year has twelve films, all of which are Norwegian premieres. Out of the twelve films competing for the Aurora Prize, the one Nordic entry is Icelandic director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson’s Heartstone

Norwegian Horizons presents six new local features, such as Izer Aliu’s Hunting Flies, which is set at a school in Macedonia; Zaradasht Ahmed’s IDFA winner, Nowhere to Hide, following a male nurse in Northern Iraq; and Kim Hiorthøy’s The Rules for Everything, a comedy about a ten-year-old girl trying to come to terms with her father’s death.

Four Norwegian titles have been chosen by local and international critics for the Critics’ Week: Jon Haukeland’s quasi-documentary debut, What Young Men Do, Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken’s Late Summer, Erik Skjoldbjærg’s Pyromaniac and Erik Poppe’s The King’s Choice, shortlisted for the Oscar nomination for Best Foreign-language Film.

Meanwhile, the festival’s Sápmi 100 programme celebrates the centenary of the Sámi people’s first national convention held in Sámi country, the Arctic area also known as Lapland in northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. Four Sámi productions are on the menu, including a film-concert with Norwegian director Nils Gaup’s Pathfinder, the first feature shot in the Sámi language.