Serious treatments of weighty issues took the main awards at this year’s Goteborg Film Festival, running Jan. 23 to Feb. 2, the first under the leadership of new artistic director Jonas Holmberg. Euthanasia pic “In Your Arms,” from Danish debutant Samanou Acheche Sahlstroma (pictured), came away the big winner, nabbing both the generously endowed – approx. $120,000- Best Nordic Film kudo and the Fipresci prize.
Denmark’s Joshua Oppenheimer scored the best Nordic docu nod with “The Look of Silence” (pictured), the follow-up to his Oscar-nominated “The Act of Killing,” which continues recounting the genocide of suspected communists in Indonesia in the 1960s. The Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award went to “The Lesson,” a spare, stripped- to-essentials drama about a provincial Bulgarian schoolteacher driven to extremes by debt, from helmer-writer Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov.
Even the audience choice kudos honored narratives that were bleaker in tone. Estonian helmer Martti Helde’s “In The Crosswind,” an extraordinary requiem for the inhabitants of the Baltic countries who, in the summer of 1941, were deported to Siberia or killed on the orders of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, captured the best feature vote, while Swedish helmer Sanna Lenken’s dysfunctional family drama “My Skinny Sister,” next slated for Berlin’s Generation program, took best Nordic film.
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The Swedish Church’s Angelos Award went to Swedish docu “Every Face Has A Name,” directed by Magnus Gertten. The pic uses archival footage of refugees freed from German concentration camps arriving in Malmo in 1945 as a starting point for the now-aged survivors to discuss their wartime experiences.
Other kudos included the Sven Nykvist Cinematography award to DoP Pietari Peltola for the Finnish youth drama “They Have Escaped,” an honorary Nordic Dragon for Norwegian thesp-turned-helmer Liv Ullmann and The City of Goteborg Award to helmer Ruben Ostlund’s “Force Majeure.” John Skoog nabbed the jury prize for best Swedish short for “Reduit (Redoubt),” while the public gave the same kudo to Amanda Kernell for “Northern Great Mountain.” Finally, the Mai Zetterling Scholarship went to Swedish helmer Mans Mansson (“Stranded In Canton.”)
Among notable trends this year were the record number of femme helmers and producers featured in both the regular fest program and at the Nordic Film Market, the principal market place for Nordic feature films and TV drama and the meeting place and networking platform for the Scandinavian and international film industry attending the Goteborg fest, and in the Market’s works-in-progress and talent lab sections.