GOTEBORG — The 39th Goteborg Film Festival, Scandinavia’s biggest film fest, opened Friday Jan. 29 on a political note with the world premiere of “The Yard” during a ceremony attended by Sweden’s Culture Minister, Alice Bah Kuhnke.
Based on Kristian Lundberg’s autobiographical novel, “The Yards” turns on a financially-struggling writer who starts working at the Malmö docks along with low-wage laborers.
“The Yard” is one of eight Scandi pics vying for the Nordic Dragon Award, along with Tobias Lindholm’s “A War,” Mads Matthiesen’s “The Model” and Rúnar Rúnarsson’s “Sparrows.”
Jonas Holmberg, the artistic director of Göteborg, said the festival will play 450 films from 84 countries, representing a multitude of “individual voices that speak of the beauty, absurdity and horror of this world.”
“People may be building walls and borders right now but looking ahead at all the films that will play here during the next 11 days, it is clear that cinema doesn’t accept any borders and that makes me very hopeful,” said Holmberg.
During her speech, Kuhnke also touched on the current refugee crisis as well as terror threats and attacks on culture that have been plaguing Europe.
“Film festivals like this one are becoming more and more important. It is a powerful manifestation of artistic freedom and freedom of speech,” said Kuhnke. “We need new perspectives and to exchange ideas when Europe is facing one of the greatest challenges in many years to welcome and integrate refugees that have fled from war and persecution, and it’s happening right when freedom of speech is under threat.”
The minister also said the government had just significantly increased the nation’s culture budget and will roll out a new film policy in 2017 to support in greater depths the Swedish film biz.
Speaking of diverse voices, the festival will pay tribute to Italian cinema with a retrospective of movies selected by Swedish helmer Roy Andersson. It will also turn the spotlight on the booming Nollywood industry with a lineup of Nigerian movies.
Prestigious Goteborg guests include Susanne Bier (“In A Better World”) and Tom Hooper (“The Danish Girl”) who will both be feted with the festival’s Honorary Dragon Awards.
Fest runs Jan.29-Feb.8.