The 41st edition of the Göteborg Film Festival, Scandinavia’s biggest film fest, is set to kick off with Gabriela Pichler’s “Amateurs,” which is also one of the nine Nordic films competing for a Dragon Award.
Written by Pichler and author Jonas Hassen Khemiri (“Invasion!”), “Amateurs” is set in the small municipality of Lafors, which hopes to solve its economic drought by attracting a German discount supermarket. In order to bolster Lafors’ appeal, local teenagers are asked to produce films about their hometown, but the films don’t turn out as expected. The project gets called off, but two young girls decide to continue working on their documentary anyway.
Goteborg’s artistic director, Jonas Holmberg, told Variety that “‘Amateurs’ delivers a powerful image of contemporary society and pays homage to utopian films with its political and humanistic undertones.”
“Amateurs” marks Pichler’s follow-up to her daring feature debut, “Eat Sleep Die,” which won the Audience Award at Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week and four Guldbagge Awards (the Swedish equivalent to the Oscars) including best film, director and screenplay.
Aside from “Amateurs,” the other Nordic films competing for the Dragon Award and its 1-million-kroner ($121,882) purse are Milad Alami’s “The Charmer,” Lisa Langseth’s “Euphoria,” Iram Haq’s “What Will People Say,” Jesper Ganslandt’s “Jimmie,” Paavo Westerberg’s “The Violin Player,” Malene Choi’s “The Return,” Isabella Eklöf’s “Holiday” and Ísold Uggadóttir’s “And Breathe Normally.”
Holmberg noted that six out of the nine Nordic movies competing are directed by women, an all-time record for the festival. “Our lineup usually includes about 37% of female-directed films, so this year is a big leap forward. Goteborg Film Festival [is] leading the way in the Nordics,” said Holmberg.
“We didn’t apply any quotas,” he added. “There are just a greater number of strong female voices and talented filmmakers in this era of #MeToo.”
Reflecting on the overriding themes of Goteborg’s film roster, Holmberg said an increasing number of local movies resonate beyond the Nordics because they are “dealing with global issues, or they are Nordic stories with ties to other places in the world.”
On top of its lineup of Nordic films, the Goteborg Film Festival will also launch a competition roster of 20 international movies and will turn the spotlight on Chinese cinema. The focus will include the screening of 14 Chinese movies as well as seminars.
“We aim at showing the growing international ambitions of Chinese films and a wide range of independent Chinese films as well as documentaries,” said Holmberg, who added that Denmark and China signed a co-production agreement last May.
The international competition selection includes such pics as Sebastián Lelio’s “Disobedience,” Armando Iannucci’s “The Death of Stalin,” Susanna Nicchiarelli’s “Nico, 1988” and Barbara Albert’s “Mademoiselle Paradis.”
The 100-year anniversary of the birth of Swedish film icon Ingmar Bergman will be celebrated throughout the festival with multiple screenings and events, notably a live concert by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.
Set to take place from Jan. 26 to Feb. 5, this year’s festival will show 399 films from 78 countries.