A tribute to the Nordic film industry’s resilience, four Nordic titles have made it through to Cannes’ Official Selection. And unlike previous years, when Denmark (Lars Von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg) or Sweden (Rüben Östlund) drew most of the worldwide attention, audiences should watch out for new and established voices from Norway, Finland and Iceland.
“Compartment No. 6”
Juho Kuosmanen’s sophomore feature marks Finland’s return to competition after a decade away (the previous Finnish film in competition was Aki Kaurismäki’s “Le Havre”). The Finnish director won Un Certain Regard back in 2016 with his black-and- white debut, “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki.” The story of a young Finnish student and a misanthropic Russian miner who share a journey along the Soviet Union’s trans-Siberian railway in the late 1980s, “Compartment No. 6” stars Seidi Haarla, one of the Berlinale’s 10 Shooting Stars.
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“The Gravedigger’s Wife”
Finland makes history this year with its first selection ever at Cannes’ prestigious Critics’ Week sidebar. Developed as part of the 2015 Cinéfondation Residence, “The Gravedigger’s Wife” is written and directed by Somali-born Finnish director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed. He already made a name for himself on the festival circuit with his short “The Night Thief” (2017). Ahmed also co-wrote fellow Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen’s short “Citizens” (2008), starring Finnish-Somali actor Omar Abdi, who returns in this film. It tells the story of a gravedigger who lives in the slums of Djibouti and struggles to make ends meet to pay for urgent surgery for his wife, played by Canadian supermodel Yasmin Warsame.
Eskil Vogt’s supernatural thriller marks the first time in 10 years that a Norwegian film has been invited to Un Certain Regard. Vogt’s directorial debut, “Blind” (2014), won more than 20 international awards, including at Sundance and Berlin. “The Innocents” tells the story of four children whose games take a sinister turn when they discover hidden powers, and reunites the director with actress Ellen Dorrit Petersen and her daughter Rakel Lenora Flottum, who plays the lead role as 9-year-old Ida.
Another supernatural thriller selected in Un Certain Regard is Valdimar Jóhannsson’s debut feature stars Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason in the story of an Icelandic couple on a remote farm who adopt a mysterious newborn child to raise as their own. Jóhannsson co-wrote the script with acclaimed Icelandic author and poet Sjón, who also worked with Robert Eggers on his upcoming thriller “The Northman.” Bela Tarr is among the film’s executive producers. The previous Icelandic film to win Un Certain Regard was Grímur Hákonarson’s “Hrútar” (“Rams”) in 2015.
Acclaimed Danish director Bille August is bringing his drama to Cannes’ Marché du Film. The film is based on Danish poet and writer Thorkild Bjørnvig’s eponymous memoir about his complex relationship with “Out of Africa” author Karen Blixen, which became a literary sensation. August is one of just a handful of directors who have won two Palmes d’Or (“Pelle the Conqueror,” 1988, and “The Best Intentions,” 1992).
“The Worst Person in the World”
Norwegian writer and director Joachim Trier returns to Cannes after his 2015 Competition title “Louder Than Bombs” with “The Worst Person in the World.” The third in Trier’s Oslo Trilogy, the film is a comic drama about love in our time and how you can have all the opportunities in life but still feel like the worst person in the world. Trier co-writes with long-time collaborator Eskil Vogt, whose sophomore feature “The Innocents” has been selected for Un Certain Regard sidebar.