Every year I give out tips for the Scandinavian Film Festival. This year instead of tips I’ve singled out ten films that look like they will be interesting. Given the limited season, I hope this helps you shorten your list of must-see films at the 2023 Festival. Remember the number one tip is that tickets sell out fast, so if you find a film you really want to see, get in quickly.
Starting on July 20 and running until August 9, this year the Festival contains films from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark.
I’m partial to a Nordic crime thriller and comedy but sometimes find the dramas a bit heavy, but hey that’s just me. So, this year here are some suggestions from me plus some from a good friend of mine.
Opening Night. Let The River Flow July 20
Set in 1979 the story is based on true events that inspired a generation of young Norwegians. The drama follows 23-year-old schoolteacher Ester (Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen) who moves to the northern Norwegian town of Alta. Like many Sámi – the native people of Scandinavia – Ester is ashamed of her heritage and conceals her ethnicity to fit in. But when her cousin Mihkkal (Gard Emil) takes her to see a riverside camp where a group is demonstrating against the government’s plan to build a hydroelectricity plant, she slowly begins to understand that the conflict is about more than environmental concerns – her very identity and culture is being challenged. Knowing what is at stake, Ester is stirred to act, placing herself and her loved ones at risk.
As usual Opening Night includes something extra, in this case a treat from Miss Maud.
The Grump: Looking For An Escort
When The Grump (Heikki Kinnunen) crashes his beloved bright red 1972 Ford Escort he decides to buy a new car. It has to have another 1972 Escort, but the closest one available is in Germany, where coincidentally his brother Tarmo (who he lost touch with) moved decades ago. After a series of incidents, the previously estranged brothers are reunited and decide to look for an Escort together, getting to know each other again in the process. Moving between tragedy and comedy, the film is a feel-good story about reconciliation and forgiveness.
Fathers and Mothers
Married couple Piv and Ulrik must fight for a place in the parental group in their daughter’s new class at school. They encounter hierarchy, rivalry, dominating personalities and hidden agendas that tend to forget the children and bring out the worst in their parents. When they join the famous and highly popular annual school camping trip, they strive to solidify their place in the parent group but face many obstacles. The question remains – how far are you willing to go for your child?
An Icelandic dramatic comedy that revolves around a dinner party. Seven friends put their phones on the table and agree that all incoming calls and messages will be shared with the party in an attempt to prove that none of them have anything to hide. What starts off as a playful game amongst friends turns into something more and poses the question: how well do we really know those close to us?
Said to be a unique portrait of a solitary monarch who is always in the spotlight but never truly known. Award-winning filmmaker Karin af Klintberg’s documentary The King delivers an exclusive glimpse into the life of Carl XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden. When his father died he was only nine months old, and he became the world’s youngest king. For two years and over roughly two thousand emails, Karin af Klintberg courted the Swedish Royal Court and was eventually granted exceptional access. The first journalist ever to have the castle gates opened. The film documents their meetings, in formal settings like state visits, and one-on-one at the Royal Palace or the King’s summer residence Solliden, intermixed with scenes from the spectacle that surrounds him.
Copenhagen Does Not Exist
Young woman Ida (Angela Bundalovic) disappears without a trace. Three months later, her boyfriend Sander (Jonas Holst Schmidt) voluntarily agrees to be locked in an apartment and interrogated by Ida’s father (Zlatko Burić) and brother to uncover what really happened, but Sander does not reveal all. Long before her disappearance, the couple had chosen to cut themselves off from the world in the search for intimacy. The film explores the power of memories and how grief alters our reality.
This dark thriller focuses on aspiring meteorologist, David (Johan L. Heinstedt) who follows his late father into the Swedish military. After stumbling upon what is left of his father’s work, he sets off to a deserted lighthouse island in the Barents Sea, the one place which may hold the truth about his father’s passing. Confronted by strange lights in the dark, eerie radio disturbances, and a hidden cave, David begins to question whether he is really alone on the island. When a female voice calls out over the otherwise silent radio, events take a turn and David’s search for truth sparks his spiraling descent into a much larger conspiracy.
Set in the 1930’s the film is based on a real story. We meet seventeen-year-old Maren (Emilie Kroyer Koppel) considered il-mannered and promiscuous, she is sent away to a women’s institution on the small island of Sprogø, where “morally feeble” girls and women were sent to become more compliant. She shares a room with Sørine who has learned to behave properly. Sørine helps Maren to settle in Sprogø and change her behaviour, but Maren’s refusal to comply sparks consequences for both.
The Land Of Short Sentences
When the love of her life, Rasmus (Thomas Hwan), takes on a teaching job at a local school in West Jutland, Denmark, Marie’s (Sofie Torp) life is turned upside down. Rather unwillingly, Marie agrees to join Rasmus in the move from her beloved Copenhagen to the windy West Jutland town, Velling. While Rasmus adapts to the local ways, Marie experiences a culture shock. But, as she slowly learns to listen more and talk less, she comes to realise that she might need the small community as much as Velling needs her, and her advice column for the local newspaper.
One Day All Of This Will Be Yours
Successful cartoonist Lisa (Karin Franz Körlof) and her siblings reunite at their parents’ farm in Norrland, Sweden for the first time in over ten years. When their parents announce that only one of their children will inherit the forested land, the siblings are faced with a dilemma. Who is willing to move back home again in order to claim the inheritance? But things that are buried in their past are bound to complicate matters and, for Lisa, the visit brings past trauma bubbling to the surface. Featuring animated characters interacting with the live ones and beautifully balancing laughter and emotional moments, this is a quirky story of growing up and coming home.
For more information go to Luna Leederville