Cross-Continental Buzz: Scandi pics

Motherlode unspools

Scandinavian pics and filmmakers are heading to Toronto in big numbers. Here are some examples from the festival highlight reel.

From Denmark, Nicolas Winding Refn’s English-language pic “Valhalla Rising,” which screens in Toronto’s Special Presentations section and out of competition at Venice, stars Mads Mikkelson as a Viking who discovers a strange new world inhabited by ferocious foes. The director gained a reputation for the graphic depiction of violence with the “Pusher” trilogy, “Bleeder” and “Bronson.” He made his English-language debut with suspenser “Fear X,” which screened at Sundance.

“Max Manus,” a pic about a real-life World War II resistance fighter, has picked up 10 noms at the Amandas, the Norwegian film awards. It receives a Gala Presentations screening at Toronto. Helmers Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning previously directed “Bandidas,” which was scripted by Luc Besson and starred Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz.

Norwegian documentary filmmaker Margreth Olin, who has won two Amanda awards and a special mention at Karlovy Vary, makes her fiction debut with emotionally charged drama “Angel.” The pic, which centers on a young mother struggling to shake a drug habit, will have its world preem in the Discovery sidebar at Toronto, and will be released in Norway by Sandrew Metronome Norge on Oct. 2. Her docu “Raw Youth” was nommed for a European Film Award in 2005.

Swedish helmer Jesper Ganslandt, whose “The Ape” screens in the Vanguard section at Toronto, made a splash with his debut “Falkenberg Farewell.”

In suspenser “The Ape,” which also screens in Venice Days, a man wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings and discovers the life he knew before is gone. The lead actor was only given the script for each scene the day before it shot, so he never knew how the pic would develop.

Danish helmer Martin Pieter Zandvliet’s “Applause,” which screens in Toronto’s Discovery sidebar, delivers a tour-de-force perf from Paprika Steen as an alcoholic actress trying to put her life back together. This is Zandvliet’s first fiction feature. He won a Robert, Denmark’s national award, for docu “Angels of Brooklyn” in 2003.

Swedish docu helmer Erik Gandini’s “Videocracy,” which plays in Real to Reel at Toronto and Venice Critics’ Week (in association with Venice Days), the filmmaker links Silvio Berlusconi’s use of trashy TV in his pursuit of power, and its effect on Italian society.

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