Kicking off with Miia Tervo’s light-hearted romantic comedy “Aurora,” the opening ceremony of the Goteborg Film Festival nevertheless boasted a political edge, underscoring Sweden’s reputation as being one of Europe’s most progressive countries.

The festival’s artistic director, Jonas Holmberg, spoke about this year’s focus on environment-themed films and documentaries with the section Apocalypse.

“The world may go under. Everything we love may be destroyed. Our cities, our bridges, our languages, our gestures, our music, our films (…) if we don’t do something very soon,” said Holmberg on the stage of the Draken auditorium which was jam-packed with Scandinavia’s creme de la creme.

The artistic director said the Apocalypse focus aimed at drawing people’s attention on the ongoing climate crisis. “Films have the unique power to “open up new horizons and perspectives … spark the imagination of people, inspire feelings and ideas at the same time,” added Holmberg.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s minister of culture, Amanda Lind, who recently joined the government and made one of her first public appearances at the opening ceremony, came up on stage and spoke about the need for greater equality between men and women as well as a healthy work environment.

“It must be a given, just like in the rest of society, that people can work in the film industry without being subjected to sexual harassment or even worse.” She added that “equality (spurs) creativity, and creativity is the very foundation of a thriving culture.”

During the ceremony, Swedish documentary filmmaker Marcus Lindeen, whose latest film “The Raft” won prizes at the Chicago and CPH: DOX festivals, as well as received the Mai Zetterling grant. “The Raft” chronicles the scientific experiment undertaken in 1973 by five men and six women who drifted across the Atlantic while studying the sociology of violence and sexual attraction.

Followed by a lavish party, ceremony was attended by key Scandinavian industry figures such Palme d’Or wining director Ruben Östlund, the filmmakers Gabriela Pichler, Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja, as well as Anna Serner, the head of the Swedish Film Institute.