Scandis at the Berlinale

Region's filmmaking is well represented at fest

STOCKHOLM — With eight features and eight shorts in the official section, Scandinavian film is having a banner year at the 2010 Berlinale.

Headlining the selection are the features in the main competition. These include Pernille Fischer Christensen’s “A Family” and Thomas Vinterberg’s “Submarino” from Denmark, and Hans Petter Moland’s “A Somewhat Gentle Man” from Norway.

In most years, the Berlinale is a good fest for Scandi films, but this year the lineup is stronger than ever. Apart from the films in the main competition, Denmark has Birger Larsen’s “Superbrother” and two shorts in the Generation KPlus competition as well as two shorts in the Generation 14Plus competition. Norway unspools Christian Lo’s “Best Friends” and Asleik Engmark’s “Knerten” and one short in the Generation Kplus competition.

Sweden has Babak Najafi’s hard-hitting “Sebbe” in Generation 14Plus as well as three shorts in the main competition, one of them helmed by “Involuntary” director Ruben Ostlund and one by fest fave Jonas Odell. Controversial Swedish docu “Bananas,” helmed by Fredrik Gertten, will screen in the sidebar Culinary Cinema.

“There is great interest in Swedish and Scandi films now,” says Pia Lundberg, head of the international department at the Swedish Film Institute. “The producers might not think in international terms when they start their productions, but the international success of films like ‘Let the Right One In’ and the ‘Millennium’ trilogy has really triggered something.”

Stellan Skarsgard’s most frequent collaborator in Denmark has been Lars von Trier. Latter is not present at the Berlinale, but his Dogma brother, “Festen” helmer Vinterberg, is. His “Submarino” is the story of two adult brothers who are suffering from a tragic event that occurred during their childhood and continues to plague their lives. One of the brothers decides that they have to come to terms with it. The leads are played by Peter Plaugborg and Jakob Cedergren. Latter played the lead in the Danish Oscar entry “Terribly Happy.”

The second Danish film in competition, “A Family,” stars Jesper Christensen (Mr. White in Bond films “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace”) and Lene Maria Christensen (who was also in “Terribly Happy”). It’s the story of a young woman whose plans to move to the U.S. take a hit when her father gets seriously ill.

Helmer Christensen’s “A Soap” won the Silver Bear in Berlin in 2006. Since the director and the two thesps have the same surname, one might suspect this is a family-business movie, but they are not related (Christensen being a common name in Denmark).

The Norwegian competition entry, “A Somewhat Gentle Man,” marks the third collaboration between Moland and Skarsgard (see separate story). The dark comedy also stars Norwegian megastar Aksel Hennie as well as Bjorn Floberg and Bjorn Sundquist. Moland was in competition at the Berlinale in 2004 with his Terrence Malick-produced, English-language “The Beautiful Country.”

Showing at the market in closed screenings are the new Josef Fares comedy “Dad” (which promises to be a return to the comedy style of helmer’s international breakthrough film “Jalla! Jalla!”) and Daniel Espinosa’s highly successful thriller “Easy Money.”

Based on the international bestseller by the same title, “Money’?s” box office take hit $2.3 million in Sweden in just five days. Two sequels have already been greenlit to shoot in 2011, with release dates that year and in 2012. Producer Fredrik Wikstrom at production company Tre Vanner will take the film to Berlin.

“TrustNordisk will screen it, and they have great faith in it,” Wikstrom tells Variety. “There have been some early sales, but the real job starts in Berlin. I am also looking to get into some major fests.”

Other Scandi films screened in the market are the Danish “Above the Street, Below the Water” and “What Goes Around” and the Swedish “The Wedding Photographer,” “Starring Maja,” “Gringa” and “Isolated.”

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