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Sweden’s Goteborg Festival Primes Presence of Women

The 42nd edition of the Goteborg Film Festival opens on a light note with Miia Tervo’s romantic comedy “Aurora,” which marks the Finnish director’s feature debut. Also set to compete in the Nordic and Audentia sections, “Aurora” marks Tervo’s follow up to her critically acclaimed documentary short, “Lumikko,” which was nominated at the European Film Awards in 2010.

The festival will close with “Swoon,” a fantasy-filled love story directed by Stein and Mårlind, the pair behind hit drama series “The Bridge,” “Midnight Sun” and “Shelter” with Julianne Moore. “Swoon” follows the impossible romance between Ninni and John, the young heirs of two rival families who own neighboring amusement parks.

Along with the launch of the Dragon Award for best acting, the Goteborg Film Festival will also host the Audentia Award, a prize created by Eurimages to honor the best female-directed film of the year. The Audentia Award was previously handed out at Toronto, Locarno and Istanbul.

Besides “Aurora,” the Audentia Award selection showcases pics from up-and-coming Scandinavian women helmers such as Mia Engberg’s “Lucky One,” Tuva Novotny’s “Blind Spot” and May El-Toukhy’s “Queen of Hearts,” as well as international helmers including Claire Burger with “Real Love,” Carolina Hellsgård with “Endzeit – Ever After,” and Eva Ionesco with “Golden Youth.”

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“Lucky One,” “Blind Spot,” “Queen of Hearts” and “Aurora” will also compete for best Nordic film, along with John Skoog’s “Season” and Eirik Svensson’s “Harajaku.” The section also boasts Anne Sewitsky ‘s “Sonja – The White Swan” and Johannes Nyholm’s “Koko-di Koko-da.”

Jonas Holmberg, Goteborg’s artistic director, noted that this year’s selection includes 41% of films directed by women, a record for the festival. Holmberg said Goteborg will also be signing the pledge for gender equality introduced at the Cannes Film Festival last year by the organization 50/50 for 2020. The pledge has been signed by the Venice and Locarno festivals, among others.

“We’re always been committed to gender equality and diversity in all aspects, which is why our selection encompasses movies from 83 countries,” said Holmberg. “We want to highlight many different artistic and political perspectives and promote new voices.” Known for being a progressive festival, Goteborg will also host several seminars discussing the role of festivals in promoting gender equality.

Goteborg’s new Dragon Award Best Acting will honor the best performance by an actor or an actress in the Nordic Competition. With this gender-neutral award, Goteborg aims at challenging the tradition of separating male and female actors. “A decade ago, the music industry started out giving gender-neutral awards to honor the best artists, and we think it’s time for the film industry to follow this track,” said Holmberg.

Goteborg will also turn the spotlight on Nordic comedies, an increasingly popular genre, as well as focus on movies shedding light on the environmental crisis, with a selection titled Apocalypse.

The wide range of films set for the Apocalypse section include Benedikt Erlingsson’s “Woman at War,” which played at Cannes’ Critics’ Week; Victor Kossakovsky’s high-profile ecological documentary “Aquarela,” which played at Venice and has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics; and the science fiction spoof “Iron Sky: The Coming Race.”

“The Apocalypse section will comprise 20 films dealing with the ongoing crisis our planet is facing. We need art and cinema to help engage audiences with this issue in a productive way because if we don’t change our society, we will soon have the apocalypse,” Holmberg said.

The Nordic Comedy section includes Niclas Bendixen’s “Ditte & Louise,” Patrik Eklund’s “Revenge,” and Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren’s “Heavy Trip.”

As previously announced, the festival will pay tribute to Mads Mikkelsen, who will receive the Nordic Honorary Dragon Award. The festival will take place Jan. 25 to Feb. 3.

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