The "Stockholm International Film Festival" is a low-key venue to watch some of the most daring and innovative films selected for the Berlin, Cannes, Venice and Rotterdam festivals. The good thing is that you're sure to find seats and a more democratic mix of directors with the public. The red carpet is gone and the glitter of stars arriving in limousines. Instead, there is one guest of honor and this year it was an actor who has starred in films by Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini and Andrej Tarkovsky. You might have remembered him in "Scenes from a Marriage" with Liv Ullman, the TV movie that made the divorce rate soar in the 1970's. His name, Erland Josefson.
Salma Hayek sent her regrets for not being able to attend the premiere with opening film "Frida", by Julie Taymor about the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her stormy marriage with mural painter Diego Rivera. And the closing film was "8 Women" by Francois Ozon, France's contribution for the nomination for best foreign film at next year's Oscars. The 8 women who break into song include Catherine Deneuve and Fanny Argent who have a spectacular kiss rolling around on the carpet with silk stockings, high heels and gorgeous evening gowns.
Generally the selection of films at Stockholm goes by the name 'hardboiled innovation' and the 13th festival competition is no exception when it comes to cutting edge work. The "E audience award" went to Carol Reygadas' lingering expose on intergenerational sex in the countryside, "Japan" (Mexico). According to the directors, this is a simple story of how we help each other in life.
"Bloody Sunday" by Paul Greengrass with its compelling direct camera realism was another favorite despite the somber background of the massacre of over a dozen Irish civilians by British soldiers gone haywire. The best actor award went to James Nesbitt, the member of parliament who desperately tries to keep the peace.
Even if Stockholm snatches up some of the pearls of other European film festivals, this year it awarded best film to Gaspar Noés "Irréversible", a film that received a lot of boos and thumbs down at Cannes in May. Perhaps Stockholm prides itself of being a daring festival that defies the critics and wants to show artistic tolerance.
Noé pitched the story to Vincent Cassel and his former wife Monica Belluci to make the film that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman 'screwed up'. The film that is projected in order from end to beginning is about revenge and sexual violence, sort of a French Clint Eastwood film.
Next week a report of interesting work screened at the festival. Until then, this is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International, Stockholm Sweden.
© 2002 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 11/02
Stockholm International Film Festival 2002, Part 1