The opening film at this year’s edition of the Goteborg fest is “Avalon” from Swedish helmer Axel Petersen, a dark tale of how fast things can go wrong when fate takes a turn for the worse.

The film, which picked up the critics award at Toronto last September, is among the eight Scandinavian and Nordic Films competing for the Dragon Award.

“Avalon” tells the story of Janne, a former club promoter whose ambitious plans to turn his life around by opening an exclusive nightclub go awry after a terrible accident for which he’s to blame. His increasingly desperate attempts to extricate himself only exacerbate his downward spiral.

The $140,000 award — Goteborg’s premier prize — was increased tenfold last year, reflecting the value the festival places on attracting top-quality regional film and promoting talent.

Past winners include Lisa Aschan, whose critically acclaimed study of the strange relationship between two teenage girls, “She Monkeys,” had its world premiere in Goteborg before achieving success at other fests; and “Let the Right One In,” the paranormal thriller that put the spotlight on helmer Tomas Alfredson — whose interpretation of John le Carre’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” has also been internationally popular.

Big prize purse helps ensure that core competition programs are well subscribed.

Fest sidebars that capture the artistic or political zeitgeist have proven to be hits with auds. This year they include a focus on Chinese documentaries, presented in association with the Rotterdam Film Festival; it will include talks by several Chinese documentary filmmakers about what it’s like to work with film in China.

There’s also a seminar on Danish film. “The last few years have been excellent for Danish documentary films.” says artistic director Marit Kapla. “It’s in documentaries that much creative energy is focused.” The seminar will also look at how Danish documentary directors are crossing over to feature films.

Fest Traveler: Goteburg Film Festival
A ‘dragon’ with

a top fest too | Big prize, diverse program pull in bizzers | Arab spring in Sweden | Post and vfx thrive in northern climes