Energized by the second strong year in a row for Scandinavian cinema, a hybrid 45th Göteborg Film Festival will open with Christoffer Sandler’s “So Damn Easy Going” in main Nordic Competition, alongside Juho Kuosmanen’s “Compartment No. 6” and Eskil Vogt’s “The Innocents.”
Despite new theater capacity controls announced by Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson on Monday, Göteborg, which had anticipated the tighter restrictions, is pressing ahead with its plans for an on-site festival with select online screenings of some 50 films for Sweden, festival artistic director Jonas Holmberg told Variety.
Luca Guadagnino will receive an Honorary Dragon Award, attending the festival and participating in an on-stage conversation after the screening of “Call Me By Your Name” on Feb. 3.
Playing Lady Jessica Atreides in “Dune,” Rebecca Ferguson (“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”) will pick up a Nordic Honorary Dragon Award.
Produced by Sweden’s Cinenic Film, the company behind Sundance 2019 best directing winner “And Breathe Normally,” the same-gender coming of age love story “So Damn Easy Going” comes after Göteborg has opened every single year since 2018 with a new film by an upcoming director.
“The opening film is such an important event because it garners so much attention, so it’s key for us to turn the spotlight onto an emerging talent and a film which has not been seen before – to create a sense of discovery,” said Holmberg.
Four of the eight movies in Nordic Competition this year are female filmmakers’ first fiction features
Göteborg has been pushing for gender equality for the last six-or-seven years, said Holmberg. This year, 48% of festival entries are directed by women, he added.
There’s good word-of-mouth on the festival closer “Day by Day” from Swedish powerhouse FLX (“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window,” “Quicksand”), which is helmed by “The 100-Year-Old Man’s” director Felix Herngren.
“So Damn Easy Going” will vie for the Best Nordic Film Dragon Award with three high-profile 2021 Cannes critics’ favorites, two ultimate winners: Off-beat Russian train romance “Compartment No. 6”; out-there Islandic maternity drama “Lamb,” with Noomi Rapace; and arthouse horror chiller “The Innocents.”
Further contenders take in San Sebastian hit “As In Heaven,” a period drama capturing budding young female consciousness; buzzed-up psychological thriller “Heartbeast”; female-centric road movie “Maya Nilo (Laura)”; and the awaited French village-set documentary tragicomedy, “Excess Can Save Us.”
Beyond the two main Nordic competitions, Noomi Rapace is said to be on fine form in Adam Berg’s Nordic star-packed “Black Crab,” Netflix’s biggest Nordic production to date, a big budget action-thriller about ice-skating soldiers on a secret mission to stop the advancing enemy.
Other potential standout world premieres take in sidebar Nordic Light’s “Man and Dog,” from Stefan Constantinescu, about a man consumed by jealousy who risks losing everything while searching for the truth; “12 Dares,” a playful and action-packed coming of age-story tipping its hat to early Guy Ritchie’s gangster films, directed by Izer Aliu who scored with “Countrymen”; and “Miss Viborg,” the debut of Danish director Marianne Blicher, a drama populated by colorful characters.
The festival’s Disorder strand includes Swedish director Ylva Forner’s “The Schoolmaster Games,” a queer boarding school drama based on Kristofer Folkhammar’s acclaimed novel of the same name and inspired by high school films and gay porn.
Running Jan. 28 through Feb. 6, 2022’s Göteborg Festival unspools just after entries from four of the five Nordic countries have been shortlisted for the International Feature Film Oscar and eight Scandinavian titles have been selected for Sundance. Outside the U.S., no other region in the world comes close to that.
“There are many more new and interesting filmmakers breaking through, especially now from Norway and Finland. Filmmakers inspire one another. There’s also a strong Nordic film support system. It’s important that policy and decision makers recognise the very high quality and international and regional impact of more cultural kinds of movies,” said Holmberg.
Göteborg will screen around 200 films this year, way down from its 350-plus pre-pandemic levels.
“We need to have longer pauses between screenings because of security concerns and we’ve been talking about having a slightly smaller programme for several years,” Holmberg added.
A breakdown of movies in Göteborg’s two main Nordic sections:
Opening Film: “So Damn Easy Going,” (Christoffer Sandler, Sweden, Norway)
Joanna, 18, with an ADHD disorder, is desperate to scrape together the money for meds as she falls heads over heals for charismatic and confident fellow teen Audrey. Sold by TrustNordisk, the film is “charming with some exciting fresh faces, a great visual style and a modern tone, and the same edge as ‘Ninjababy,’” says TrustNordisk’s Naya Mørch-Jessen.
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