Per Fly’s “Waltz for Monica” (“Monica Z”), a biopic of Swedish jazz singer Monica Zetterlund, has been added to the lineup of Gothenburg-based Way Out West, a Scandi twist on South by Southwest.
One of Sweden’s most anticipated film releases, “Monica” will have its Scandinavian bow at the fest, joining other buzzed-about local fare, such as “Easy Money: Life Deluxe,” the world-preeming third installment of “Snabba Cash” (“Easy Money”). Pic is getting a Hollywood makeover with Zac Efron in the lead role.
Launched seven years ago as a music fest, Way Out West added film into the mix back in 2011 and won 2012’s MTV nod for most innovative festival.
Film programmer Svante Tidholm said he’s been scouting established festivals like Coachella, South by Southwest in the U.S. and Sonar in Barcelona, Spain, to come up with the right formula; and is now looking to up the ante, opening up the lineup to more international films, with a strong U.S. indie flavor.
This year’s 12-fiction film roster includes six Yankee titles, notably Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight,” Steven Soderbergh’s “Behind the Candelabra,” Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha” and Ellen Page starrer “The East.”
Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grandmaster” is another international pic set to unspool.
The documentary slate includes a special screening of Deidre Schoo & Michael Beach Nichols’ “Flex Is Kings” and the first international roll-out of Shane Meadows’ “Stone Roses: Made of Stone.”
“The films we premiered last year went on to become the most successful Scandinavian films of 2012,” said Tidholm, citing the world premieres of “Easy Money II” and “Palme,” a docu-portrait of Olof Palme, the Swedish prime minister who was killed in 1986. Doc became Sweden’s highest-grossing documentary ever.
“Since Way Out West started including films in 2011, we’ve managed to snatch up high-profile titles from key local and international distributors because we attract trend-setters and opinion-makers,” Tidholm said. “Distributors know that our festival is the best place to plant a film in the region and get the buzz rolling.”
Last year’s VIP guests included Alexander Skarsgard, Kate Bosworth and Kirsten Dunst.
The festival, which welcomes about 30,000 visitors every year, has also gained a solid reputation as a top-notched live music venue. Headliners include Alicia Keys, Neil Young & Crazy Horse and Kendrick Lamar. Past editions featured Prince, Kanye West and MIA.
“The line between high-brow and low-brow culture is completely blurred nowadays so there’s definitely room for an event like ours that builds more bridges between film and music. I don’t know a rockstar who doesn’t want to be an actor, and I don’t know an actor who doesn’t want to be a rockstar,” quipped Tidholm.
Next up, Tidholm said he’s considering opening the selection to high-end TV drama and minis.