Gothenburg fest wraps

GOTHENBURG — The 20th anniversary edition of the Gothenburg Film Festival wrapped on Sunday in the western Sweden seaport city with a gala awards ceremony honoring several Scandi pics. Fest attendance for the 10-day event hit 105,319, up 3,000 from last year’s gathering.

The Nordic Film Prize, which includes a $7,000 cash award, went to Norwegian helmer Vibeke Idsoe’s children’s fantasy-adventure, “Hunting the Kidney Stone,” which was nabbed for international sales by Spelling while still in production. The Gothenburg audience jury prize went to Swedish director Ella Lemhagen’s “The Prince of My Dream: Em’s Story.” Swedish Film Critics’ honors went to Kjell Ake Andersson’s “The Christmas Oratorio,” and the city of Gothenburg’s best Swedish film of 1996 went to Kjell Sundvall’s box office hit, “The Hunters,” which Sundvall said had been picked up for remake rights by U.S. production outfit Trilogy.

Films that generated the greatest fest buzz and played to enthusiastic crowds and multiple packed houses included the Israeli drama “Saint Clara,” Palestinian entry “Chronicle of a Disappearance” and the stylish Danish crime drama “Pusher.”

The anniversary unspooling coincided with a meeting of the European Film Academy as well as a gathering of the Swedish Film Academy, and the combination helped draw international filmmakers such as Istvan Szabo, Agnieszka Holland, Jorn Donner, Nik Powell, Daniel Bergman, Reinhard Hauff and Mika Kaurismaki to Gothenburg. The fest also boasted attendance of another 100 international helmers to help celebrate the anniversary.

Euro Film Academy president Powell reported that the executive meet yielded several developments, including the privatizing of the annual Felix awards ceremony, the securing of an international public relations representative and a membership drive aimed at bring the total number from an original 1,000 to “about 3,500.”

The fest, which last year became the official national film festival of Sweden, also raised nearly $25,000 for an ambitious cinema building project in Bosnia.

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