GOTEBORG — Films treating the aftermath of wars past and present and singular artistic visions captured top awards at this year’s Goteborg Film Festival, running Jan. 29 to Feb. 8.
One night after nabbing Rotterdam’s audience award and MovieZone prize, Danish helmer Martin Zandvliet came away Goteborg’s biggest winner, scoring the generously endowed – approx. $120,000 – Best Nordic Film kudo for “Land Of Mine,” a gripping portrayal of a group of young German P.O.W.s forced to de-mine Danish beaches after the Axis defeat. “Land” was a standout in a strong competition that also included the Academy Award-nominated “A War” from Danish helmer Tobias Lindholm.
Poland-born, Sweden-based helmer Jerzy Sladkowski took the Nordic docu nod with “Don Juan,” which centers on the relationship of a 22-year-old autistic man and his neurotic mother who is determined to make him more “normal.” The docu also nabbed the main award at IDFA last fall, the first-ever Swedish film to do so.
Capping this year’s substantial focus on Italian cinema, The Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award went to Italian helmer Pietro Marcello for “Lost and Beautiful,” a docu hybrid that straddles the border between reality and surreal fairytale.
The Swedish Church’s Angelos Award went to Swedish docu “The Girl Who Saved My Life,” directed by Hogir Horiri, who, in August 2014, returned to his birthplace, Iraqi Kurdistan, to document the stories of war refugees.
Meanwhile, the audience choice kudos honored more upbeat narratives. Brazilian helmer Anna Muylaert’s “The Second Mother,” an appealing character study of a live-in maid and her estranged daughter, was the public’s pick for best feature, while Norwegian director Rune Denstad Langlo’s refugee center dramedy “Welcome To Norway!” was the preferred Nordic title.
Other prizes included the Sven Nykvist Cinematography award to DoP Petrus Sjovik for the Danish melodrama “The Model,” the Lorens Award to Emma Akesdotter Ronge, producer of fest opener “The Yard,” and the Fipresci nod to Icelandic helmer Runar Runarsson’s much-laureled coming-of-ager “Sparrows.”
Honorary Nordic Dragons went to helmers Susanne Bier and Tom Hooper, and The City of Goteborg Award to helmer Sanna Lenken’s “My Skinny Sister.” Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson nabbed the jury prize for best Swedish short for “Ten Meter Tower,” while the public gave the same kudo to Joanna Rytel for “Moms On Fire.” Finally, the Mai Zetterling Scholarship went to documaker Linda Vastrik (“Forest Of The Dancing Spirits.”)
This year’s crop of new Nordic films reflected Zeitgeist issues such as cut-throat practices in big business and the influx of refugees, with dramas “The Yard” from Swedish helmer Mans Mansson and “The Mine” from Finnish director Aleksi Salmenpera repping the former and provocative dramedy “Welcome To Norway!” the latter.