Movie Magazine International

Gothenburg Film Festival, Sweden January 26 – February 4, 2001

Special Report By Moira Sullivan

The recent Gothenburg Film Festival was a showcase for some of the 38 feature films and 227 shorts produced during the last year in Sweden. More than 100,000 tickets were sold bringing in over a half a million dollars. Unlike many film festivals, this one has no Hollywood films, and no Hollywood stars. Featured is a (Göteborg-Posten)Nordic Competition for best film with work this year from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland. The Nordic Grand Film Prize went to (Heftig og Begeistre) Far out and Beguiled) by Norwegian director Knut Erik Jensen. The jury praised Jensen’s script and imagery for "providing warmth to a snow covered landscape". Is that Nordic or what!

Roy Andersson won the Swedish Film Critic Association’s grand prize for Songs from the Second Floor. The Sven Nykvist award (named after Ingmar Bergman’s cinematographer) went to Jan Troell. His latest feature is called Så Vit som en Snö (As White as Snow)- another chiller--a story about Elsa Andersson, the first woman aviatrix who won flight contests in southern Sweden and Berlin during the 1920’s.

There has been a boom in new scripts and alternative production modes in Sweden in the last five years as witnessed in the work of director Lukas Moodysson. In 1997 Moodysson made Show Me Love about young people living in a dull rural community including two teenage girls (Alexandra Dahlström, Rebecca Liljeberg) who fall in love with each other. The script was so refreshing that it caused a stir in the film branch.

There is also a wave of films from "outsiders" in Sweden who have another cultural heritage than Swedish. It’s clear that outsider directors have a lot to offer to "insiders"— the Swedish smash hit Jalla! Jalla! with direction and screenplay by 23-year old Josef Fares from Lebanon won the Gothenburg grand public prize with an award of $10,000 Dollars and was one of the top ten public favorites at the recent Rotterdam film festival. The story is about two young men, an ethnic Swede and an "outsider" who become friends at their jobs as local grounds keepers at a public park. What is special about the film is how "unusual" the subject matter comes across to filmgoers because of its humorous script.

Lukas Moodysson was actually both mentor and executive director to Josef Fares, making him the youngest feature film director in Swedish film history.

Swedish film is clearly emerging from several safe niches and themes, replaced by more realistic and provocative work. As proof, several of this year’s multicultural films were nominated for Golden Beetle awards, the Swedish 'Oscars',which the Gothenburg film festival hopes to host next year as the final day of the festival.

Veteran filmmaker Roy Andersson won several awards this year for Songs for the Second Floor.The film is a dystopian melodrama with eerie, nonstop circus music and received Golden Beetles for best picture, direction, cinematography, and soundtrack. Beyond Andersson’s awards the Swedish old guard took home most of the other prizes These are typical Swedish film productions as they either a) involve Ingmar Bergman, b) are nostalgic summer films or c) are light comedies that have been made through the years.

From the looks of current films, scripts dealing with multiculturality and outsiders are sure to continue being developed in Sweden. Positive signs from the Swedish Film Institute advisors who recommend films for production show that there is more to be expected, and a good chance it will be funded.The Gothenburg Film Festival has proven this year that it is an important Swedish event to attend for film professionals.

This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International, Gothenburg, Sweden.

© 2001 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 2/01

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