Stockholm: Festival Director Scheynius Gets Political

Mustang Cannes Film Festival
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

With the Stockholm Film Festival kicking off its first full day of screenings today, Nov. 11, Variety’s Jon Asp sat down with festival director Git Scheynius to discuss this year’s event.

For the first time in Stockholm’s history, films from female filmmakers this year comprise the majority of the main competition, a development that doesn’t  jibe in the prestigious festival world elsewhere. So what’s the explanation to Stockholm’s equality between genders?

Yes, I believe it’s historic for us and I would assume for any other festival in the world. We’ve wanted to make a point by highlighting the talented female film-makers since there is a film industry, and even some film festivals, suggesting that they doesn’t really exist. We see that there is a shortage on the female perspective in the film world, and we know that there’s an audience who wishes to see these films. Besides, we haven’t experienced any declining numbers of ticket sales, and during the last decade the Bronze horse, our most prestigious prize, has been scooped five times by female directors.

Will there be any more Stockholm Feature Film Awards handed out after “She’s Wild Again Tonight,” Fia Stina Sandlund’s take on Strindberg’s play “Miss Julie,” took the 2013 cash prize handed out exclusively to female directors?

”She’s Wild Again Tonight” is the last the project in this kind of (program). We will now make an evaluation of the project and think about the next step.

Three things that you’re most proud of this year.

Stockholm Impact. It’s an immediate boost to filmmakers engaged in the freedom of speech and where the winner gets 1 million Swedish krona for his or her next project. And it’s an honor to have Ai Weiwei as the jury chairman and also to have the world premiere of Lisa Aschan’s ”White People.”

Horror Night De Luxe with Ellen Burstyn, who will receive Stockholm Life Time Achievement Award (an event which includes a screening of ”The Exorcist”).

The main competition with brilliant films such as “Mustang,” pictures, “The Summer of Sangaile,” “The Here After” — just to mention a few.

This year’s spotlight is on Migration, the new Impact section and a new competition for documentaries — is the 26th Stockholm the most political so far?

Yes, probably, along with 1997’s edition, which drew lots of attention for sexual-political reasons. By necessity, we have to tackle and to reflect on today’s refugee and migration crisis, and we also have the films telling the stories behind the headlines.

What’s important at this year’s Industry Days?

We have started a collaboration with Cinando. We have a masterclass with Joachim Trier (winner of the Bronze horse in 2011, with “Oslo, August 31st”) and a bunch of interesting work-in-progress.



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