Posts Tagged ‘Nordic’

7 Sami Stories | 4th Nordic Film Festival 2015

Seven young Sami directors, representing the culture of Lapland, directed the same film team in the Norwegian village of Kautokeino. Their short films all share an eerie quality, something not seen before. One might not identify this quality immediately, but all films have in common a spiritual awareness, a deep-seated reference to the past, unspoken enigmas and a dreamlike aspect. Featuring nightmares or poetic, lyrical day-dreams: seven very unique examples of a marginalised culture being very much alive.

SAMI BOGA, directed by Elle Sofe Henriksen, is the story of Mikkel, a teenage boy, who has the responsibility for he reindeer herd of his family, but whilst he is able to look after the animals, he has the most violent nightmares in his head. The snow driven landscape is more than a background: this young man is possessed by demons, possible from the past, and he is unable to distinguish between reality and his visions.

O.M.G. –OH, MAIGON GIRL by Marja Bal Nango features to bored teenage girls, Maigon and Anne-Sire, who attempt to go to a party in Sweden, but in the end walk home frustrated, after the young men they want to travel with, have turned out either violent or disinterested. Drinking Vademecum, an oral health care product, with a minimal alcoholic content, they fall out with each other, with the boys and with the whole world. They teeter at the brink of being victims of male violence and at the end, one is only too happy for them, when they walk home together: just not ready for the world they dream of. An often flippant, but very serious portrait of the pains of growing up.

LONG LIVE SAPMI directed by Per Josef Idivuoma is a slapstick comedy, which has its roots in ancient Sami history. Klemet is the hero, who fights foreigners, trying to occupy his country. But soon his attention is not so much focused on the foundation of the first Sami parliament, but a young woman, with whom he has wild sex in his tent. Always over-the-top, Long live Sapmi is a wild take on Sami independence and the importance of a good love life.

Majjen, the heroine in BURNING SUN by Elle Marja Eira, is wearing a special hat, a traditional Sami outfit, like all women in her village. But the Christian missionaries forbid the women to wear these particular hat, because it’s form reminds them of the horns of the devil. Up and down the country, the women are chased, and Majjen is warned by a woman firend to be careful. Nevertheless, she falls in the hands of the missionaries, and is taken away by boat. After a struggle, she chooses to drown, rather than give up her hat. With beautiful underwater image, Burning Sun, is a dark poetic parable, which portraits the fight for identity of the Sami women.

EDITH & ALJOSJA are the main protagonists in Ann Holmgren’s (happy) variation on Tristan and Isolde. The two live in different worlds: Edith in an old fashioned Sami tent, Aljosja in a modern house.They are separated by a river, the man seems able to walk on the water. But the woman has to swim trough the dangerous current, nearly drowning, before she reach Aljosha. This is a beautifully shot allegory on love conquering different cultural backgrounds, with a white halo settling at the end on the house of united couple.

AILE AND GRANDMOTHER by Silja Somby, is told like a fable story: Aile, a young girl has her first period, and is asked by her grandmother, why she did not tell her mother. But Aile is much closer to the old woman than her ‘modern’ mother. The grandmother, who cures illnesses with herbal remedies, talks about giving Aile her healing powers. When Aile finds her dead, she runs to her mother, who does not believe her, since the grandmother passed away long ago, when Aile was a baby. Simple, but not simplistic, Somby shows in a lyrical way, how traditions are passed on – even from the dead to the living.

THE AFFLCITED ANIMAL, directed by Egil Petersen is the most impressive contribution. It is the portrait of a dysfunctional family: Leif, the father, tries to deny the mental illness if his wife Agnes, who stays unresponsive in bed, whilst their young daughter Ida is very much aware of the fact that Leif wants a way out. When one of their dogs gets ill, Ida phones Eva, the vet, who has been Leif’s girl friend before he met Agnes. Seeing Eva, Leif wants to see her again the same evening, and lies to his daughter, but she is not fooled, with whom Leif is going to spend his evening with. Ida is a very delicate child: she sees her father searching for a way out, wanting him to stay on the one hand, but another part of her wants him to be happy with Eva. A dark, very complex relationship story, centred around a young girl whose desires split her in two. AS



3rd Nordic Film Festival 2014 | 26 November 7 December

hotel copyNordic Film Festival is back again for a third visit to London with fresh and vibrant filmmaking, past and present, from Finland, Norway, Sweden and Demark. In an eclectic programme from the frozen North’s most exciting talent, award-winning actress Alicia Vikander stars in PURE director, Lisa Langseth’s second feature HOTELL (2013), a tonal curio that shifts from tragedy to humour in exploring four very different characters in search of escape from their traumatic lives.

MYSTUFF_bigben copy

Back this year by popular demand is MY STUFF, an effecting documentary looking at how we relate to our worldly possessions through the personal experience of its young Finnish filmmaker, Petri Luukkainen.

Pakistani Norwegian director Iram Haq’s debut feature, I AM YOURS, is a strikingly fresh look at interracial love which explores the gritty relationship issues affecting single Pakistani mother Mina and Swedish filmmaker Jesper as they grow closer.

i am yours_02_lowres copy

The ironically-titled PARIS OF THE NORTH is a melancholic comedy that takes place in a tiny fishing village in Iceland. Very much a moody character piece, it gently probes the difficulties faced by an alcoholic man and his father as they come to terms with themselves and the inevitability of their difficult lives. Copenhagen is the setting for the composite piece NORDIC FACTORY where eight directors collaborate to create four shorts in teams of two. One of them is Lars Mikkelsen (What Richard Did).

Kon-Tiki is a rousing and gorgeous-looking adventure drama showcasing the derring-do of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. While on his epic 4,300 mile voyage of discovery on the high sees, he wrestles with a passing shark and lives to tell the tale. Occasionally becalmed but always eventful.


This year’s new strand “Architecture and the City” showcases Nordic artist Olafur Eliasson in a documentary about a Icelandic landmark, ‘Harpa: from Dream to Reality’. together with a selection of recent cross-cultural collaboration and Nordic storytelling for children of all ages. Staying on the artistic theme documentary AI WEI WEI: THE FAKE CASE looks at the maverick artist’s life under house arrest in China. Is AI WEI WEI the talented artist he claims to be or simply a high-evolved con man. You decide.


(Jeg er din)
Iram Haq | Norway 2013 | 96m | Norwegian/Swedish/Urdu + English subtitles | advised cert 15
A moving portrayal of a young woman’s struggle with love, motherhood and being caught between two cultures.
SCREENING: 2 Dec Arthouse Crouch End (London)

Kontiki KON-TIKI **
Joachim Rønning/Espen Sandberg | Norway/Denmark/Germany/Sweden 2012 | Norwegian/Swedish/French/English + English subtitles |118m advised cert 15
This epic global tale of bravery, camaraderie and sheer determination follows the 1947 expedition of Thor Heyerdahl across the Pacific Ocean.
SCREENING: 3 Dec ArtHouse Crouch End (London)


My StuffMY STUFF ****
Petri Luukkainen | Finland 2013 | 80m | Finnish + English subtitles | cert 15
Docudrama about a filmmaker’s one year experiment in creative living, locking away all his possessions in storage…
SCREENING: 4 Dec ArtHouse Crouch End (London)



pressbild/hotellHOTEL **
Lisa Langseth | Sweden 2013 | 97m I Swedish + English subtitles I advised cert 15 |
Successful young professional Erika resorts to an ill-suited therapy group after her life takes an abrupt turn in this honest and at times humorous exploration of the human psyche.
SCREENING: 7 Dec Hackney Picturehouse (London)


Katja Adomeit/Sharbhanoo | Sadat Denmark/Germany/Afghanistan) | 60m | advised cert 15
Courtesy of CPH:DOX
Collaboration with leading Danish documentary festival CPH:DOX, with a shorts programme from their CPH:LAB initiative.
SCREENING: 7 Dec The Proud Archivist (London)

D. Kjell Grede | Sweden 1967 | 82m | Swedish + English subtitles | cert U
One summer in the Swedish countryside, Josephine, the pastor’s daughter, and Hugo, a boy who fends for himself in the woods nearby, join ranks in search of adventure. From the Cinema of Childhood touring season.
SCREENING: 7 Dec The Proud Archivist (London)

Highlights From December 8th Onwards Include:

i am yours_02_lowres copyI AM YOURS ***
(Jeg er din)
Iram Haq | Norway 2013 | 96m | Norwegian/Swedish/Urdu + English subtitles | advised cert 15 |
10 Dec Filmhouse (Edinburgh)
14 Dec Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle)
16 Dec Broadway (Nottingham)



Paris_of_the_North_01PARIS OF THE NORTH ***

(París norðursins)
Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson | Iceland/Denmark/France 2014 | 98m| Icelandic + English subtitles | advised cert 15 |
Set against Iceland’s stunning West Fjords, this bleakly comic tale sees thirty-something Hugi’s life turned upside down when his estranged father arrives in town.
8 Dec Glasgow Film Theatre
15 Dec Broadway (Nottingham)
16 Dec Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle)
17 Dec Filmhouse (Edinburgh)


Ani Simon-Kennedy| Iceland 2013 | 78m | advised cert 15
With a nod to the tradition of silent cinema, Icelandic band Hjaltalín’s award-winning soundtrack set the tone for this atmospheric tale of hunters, outsiders and a society bound by strict rules.
SCREENING:11 Dec Filmhouse (Edinburgh)

nordic factory_04 copyAI WEIWEI: THE FAKE CASE ***

Andreas Johnsen | Denmark 2013 | 86m | Mandarin + English subtitles | advised cert 15 |
Detained for alleged tax evasion, artist and political dissident Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in a prison cell. Danish filmmaker Andreas Johnsen (Kidd Life, 2012) digs deep to document the ensuing high-profile court battle.
15 Dec Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle)
18 Dec Broadway (Nottingham)


Sundays (Kræsten Kusk/Denmark and Natalia Garagiola/Argentina)
Listen (Hamy Ramezan/Finland and Rungano Nyoni/Zambia)
Void (Milad Alami/Denmark and Aygul Bakanova/Kyrgyzstan)
The Girl and the Dogs (Selma Vilhunen/Finland and Guillaume Mainguet/France)
2014 | 60m | Danish + Englsh subtitles | advised cert 15 |
Nordic Factory is a collaborative project between young filmmakers in which each film is influenced by the coming together of different cultures and cinematic styles. Featuring Lars Mikkelsen (Borgen), Signe Egholm Olsen (Borgen) and Dar Salim (The Killing, Borgen, A Hijacking).
15 Dec Glasgow Film Theatre


Lisa Langseth | Sweden 2013 | 97m I Swedish + English subtitles I advised cert 15 |
Successful young professional Erika resorts to an ill-suited therapy group after her life takes an abrupt turn in this honest and at times humorous exploration of the human psyche.
17 Dec Broadway (Nottingham)
18 Dec Filmhouse (Edinburgh)
22 Dec Glasgow Film Theatre

The Deep (2012)

Director: Baltasar Kormakur

Olaf Darri Olafsson, Johann G Johannsson, Porbjorg Helga Porgilsdottir, Theodor Juliusson, Maria Siguroardottir

Iceland     95mins   Drama

Baltasar Kormakur originally came to fame in Iceland through his acting talents. But recently he has made superb drama 101 Reykjavik (with Victoria Abril) and crime thriller, Jar City, that screened last Autumn as part of the London Nordic Film Festival 2012.

His latest outing is based on an extraordinary incident in 1984 when an Icelandic trawler capsized off the coast of the West Islands leaving only one survivor. THE DEEP is the story of a miracle and Kormakur creates a convincing and tangible sense of place and suspense in the opening sequences that see a group of fishermen preparing to set sail for the high seas.

Tragedy ensues and the aftermath, staged in flashback, shows Gulli (Olafur Darri Olafsson) surviving against all odds in icy waters in a feat that will make him a national hero.  His will to live and sheer determination is portrayed in a gripping and realistic performance by Olfur Darri Olafsson (who has recently won Best Actor at Karlovy Vary Film Festival) and is set against gloomy and atmospheric visuals of the treacherous volcanic landscape and choppy seas echoing his sense of fear, pain and desolation.

But rather than a superhero, Gulli emerges from all this as a nice enough, overweight bloke who is just looking forward to getting back for a drink with his friends and family. When faced with adversity he just took it all on board, or not, as it transpired.

And it’s due to this close engagement with the local community that the The Deep ultimately fails as an exciting narrative. A story that could have been moving or even devastating just seems to end up rather deflated. Perhaps Kormakur felt a need to protect the sensibilities of the locals by shying away from depicting what really happened in this fishing village.  After the excitement and build-up of the first half, the film shifts in tone from drama to banal reality as it laboriously picks apart the aftermath of the tragedy, detailing the subsequent scientific findings in a procedural way that eventually descends into tedious documentary-style fare.

Presumably some of the people affected by the losses are still alive and, out of sheer respect for their feelings, one is left with the impression that Kormakur has reined back from giving full exposure to the grim reality of how tragedy ultimately affected this small fishing community. A missed opportunity then but nevertheless a remarkable piece of filmmaking that marks Kormakur out to be a technical genius with an eye for a story. MT

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