The 1991 Gothenburg Film Festival – Jan. 25 to Feb. 3 – was the biggest in the event’s 14-year history.

Originally just running three days, the fest has grown to 10 days. This year’s budget was about $625,000. Of that amount, 15% comes from the Swedish Film Institute, 15% from the city of Gothenburg; the remainder is generated by the festival.

The fest, the only one held in Scandinavia at this time of year, offers an unusual forum that allows the directors, producers and talent to talk with the audience after screenings. Also, the public is invited to attend the daily press conferences.

To the organizers, audience participation is the most important aspect of the event. Festival director Gunnar Carlsson, a fest founder who now is employed by it to scout the world for new films, says, “We sold almost 69,000 tickets this year, which in all is 6,000 more than last year.” About 220 films were screened.

One disappointment was that six people canceled their plans to attend the fest, including Hungarian director Merta Mescaroz, because of the war in the Persian Gulf.

Among the theaters used for screenings were Nationalteatern and Folkan, which are, thanks to the city of Gothenberg, now equipped with cinema projectors. They will remain there on a permanent basis, allowing the theaters to use them during the year to whatever means they feel fit.

Some of the pics had Scandi distribution before the fest began: Planborg Films has “Misery,” the Film Institute has “Seagulls” and “The Cloud That Was In Love,” Triangelfilm has “The Nasty Girl” and Sandrews has the Chinese “Ju Dou,” the popular pic that closed the fest.

During the festival, Polfilm bought the Taviani brothers’ “Night Sun,” and Svensk decided to distribute the Rosanna Arquette/Carrie Fisher-starrer “Sweet Revenge.” Swedish Television showed the Canadian “The Company Of Strangers” just a few days after it had been shown to much applause at the festival.

No market

Per Carlsson, there was great interest in French films “The Hairdresser’s Husband” and “There Will Be Days… And Moons.” “We don’t really have a market here, like at some of the other festivals,” he said. “The potential distributors watch the films they might be interested in, and after the festival they get in touch with the sales folks.”

Hans Elefalk, buyer for Swedish TV says, “To me, this year’s festival was as good as it ever has been. The standard is very high, and I’ve found at least five or six films that I’m very interested in.”

U.S. films screened include “The Grifters,” “The Hot Spot” and “Mr. & Mrs. Bridge.” The original distributor, Svensk, has deemed them uncommercial and will not put them in the theaters. Sonet Films apparently is interested in picking up “The Grifters,” and the Swedish branch of Columbia/Tri-Star is talking about picking up “The Hot Spot.”

Another disappointment, per Carlsson, was that there wasn’t one all-Swedish film premiering. “This really points toward the situation of Swedish film production today,” he says. “We have always had as one of our main goals to show at least one or two new Swedish films every year.”

Guests at the festival included Michael Verhoeven (“The Nasty Girl”), Cynthia Scott (‘ The Company Of Strangers”), Vibekke Lokkeberg and Terje Kristansen (“Seagulls”) and Muammer Ozer (“The Cloud That Was In Love”).

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