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Stockholm Festival Kicks Off 25th Edition

Some 201 films from 60 countries make the 25th edition of Stockholm Film Festival the biggest so far. Unspooling through Nov. 16, the festival is honoring Uma Thurman, Mike Leigh and recent Golden Lion winner Roy Andersson.

The Stockholm Film Festival turns a quarter of a century by looking back on the early years. When the festival was first held in 1992, “Reservoir Dogs” won the Bronze Horse, fest’s prize for best film. Only two years later Quentin Tarantino was back at Stockholm, winning another Bronze Horse for “Pulp Fiction.”

Tarantino has repeatedly expressed his delight for the festival. And to celebrate the 25th festival, the director’s muse Thurman will receive the festival’s achievement award.

“We’ve had her in mind for some years. By inviting her to the 25th edition, we also connect to our past in a nice way,” says festival director Git Scheyinus.

The festival is homw to an ice sculpture made by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Last year the artist, who was banned from to leaving China, participated in the jury that was symbolized by an empty chair. The ice sculpture is named Hope, in order to celebrate this year’s Spotlight section.

“Being on the jury last year inspired him, and he also liked the spotlight on Freedom, which also treated issues on democracy,” says festival founder and director Git Scheynius. “Also educated in cinema, Ai Weiwei is an extraordinary artist that combines questions on democracy and the arts, which also goes hand in hand with the basic idea of Stockholm Film Festival.”

The competition — for first, second and third titles — includes Oscar contenders “Foxcatcher” and “Whiplash” alongside critically acclaimed festival pics such as Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s “The Tribe” and Veronika Franz’ and Severin Fiala’s “Goodnight Mommy” — directors who will also attend the festival.

“It is very pleasing that the most exciting international directors primarily choose Stockholm of all the Nordic festivals,” says George Ivanov, program director. He mentions young directors as Xavier Dolan, Celine Sciamma, Debra Granik, alongside more recent discoveries as July Jung, Afia Nathaniel, Cutter Hodierne, Danile Barber, Nima Javadi and Justin Simien.

“But we also have a very strong Swedish participation, which can also be seen in this year’s competition,” he says.

There are Jens Ostberg’s world preeming feature debut “Blowfly Park” and the European premiere of Mikael Marcimain’s “Gentlemen,” the adaptation of Klas Ostergren’s novel that premiered at Toronto and is opening the festival.

Roy Andersson will be the first Scandi recipient of the Visionary Award. The final part of his trilogy, “A Pigeon Sat on Branch Reflecting on Existence” won the Golden Lion in Venice and was recently picked up for U.S. release by Magnolia Pictures.

“Roy was selected for our prize before winning the lion,” says Scheynius. “Swedish cinema today is more exciting than it has been for years. Ruben Ostlund and Anna Odell are two brilliant examples of strongly original directors. Mikael Marcimain another one. And Roy Andersson is unique in the film world today.”

Stockholm’s lifetime achievement award this year goes to the British helmer Mike Leigh, who’s screening his latest work, “Mr. Turner,” at the fest.

Another special presentation is “Young Sophie Bell” by Amanda Adolphson, the second film to come out of Stockholm Film Festival’s fund for female directors.

A special focus of this year will be on Brazilian films. In a collaboration with Cinema do Brasil section include titles as “Almost Samba,” “Captive Hearts,” “Obra,” “Praia do Futuro,” “Trash” and “The Way He Looks.”

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