FESTIVALS / DOC/FIC

Göteborg Festival keeps programme to its core

12 JANUARY 2021

Knocking / PHOTO: Hannes Krantz 3

Around 60 films - against 400+ in previous years - will premiere at the 44th Göteborg Film Festival, set to honour the native Ruben Östlund.

Forced to cut down its programme and to move online due to the pandemic, Scandinavia’s largest film festival will be a lean and ultimate experience, where each film will be screened both virtually by a large audience in Sweden and experienced physically alone in unique settings, from January 29 to February 8.

“As Covid-19 was clearly going to affect the programme, we thought how can we still create an exciting festival experience for the audience, while continuing to support filmmakers and the industry,” said artistic director Jonas Holmberg to nordicfilmandtvnews.com. “We therefore decided to build our programme around the concept of one film at a time - instead of several playing simultaneously.”

Each of the 60 premieres will be available 24hr online to Swedish audiences and at the same time, symbolic one-person screenings will be showcased on the remote lighthouse island of Pater Noster - a secluded rocky spot in the North Sea-and at Göteborg’s iconic venues: the Scandinavium arena and Draken Cinema. One film nerd willing to self-isolate on the Pater Noster lighthouse for seven days will be selected by the festival, via a call for application (see here to apply: https://goteborgfilmfestival.se/en/pater-noster/).

While the film experience itself will be heightened, to let people reflect on the pandemic’s effects on our relationship to film, Göteborg’s programme has also been designed to fit the unprecedented covid-times. “With only 60 film premieres, the hardest part was to say no to many films that normally we would have loved to include in our programme,” notes Holmberg. “We therefore cut the festival to its core: the Dragon competition programme and added two special strands: ‘Social Distances’ and ‘Voyage’.

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Göteborg Festival keeps programme to its core

Jonas Holmberg / PHOTO: Gff

The festival’s opening film Tove by Finnish director Zaida Bergroth is among seven titles vying for the Dragon award-Best Nordic Film and the coveted SEK 1 million cash prize. Other contenders are Denmark’s Persona Non Grata by debut director Lisa Jespersen, making its world premiere, and Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, Sweden/Poland’s Sweat by Magnus von Horn, Tigers by Ronnie Sandahl, Pleasure by Ninja Thyberg, coming straight from Sundance, and Norway’s Gritt by Itonje Simer Guttormsen, also vying for a Tiger Award in Rotterdam.

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Göteborg Festival keeps programme to its core

Tove / PHOTO: Helsinki Filmi S

Two Swedish films will world premiere in the Nordic Documentary Competition section: Be My Voice by Nahid Persson (My Stolen Revolution), about an activist for women’s rights in Iran, and In the Fog by Maciej Kalymon. Other entries include IDFA’s top award-winning Norwegian film Radiograph of a Family by Firouzeh Khosrovani, the Danish animated film and Sundance selected Flee by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, the Finnish film Aalto by seasoned director Virpi Suutari and Iceland’s A Song Called Hate by Anna Hildur.

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Göteborg Festival keeps programme to its core

Radiograph Of A Family / PHOTO: Antipode Films

Six films will compete for the Ingmar Debut Award - such as Portugal’s The Last Bath by David Bonneville and Limbo by UK filmmaker Ben Sharrock and another six films will screen in the international competition strand.

The covid-related ‘Social Distances' section will present 17 short and feature length films, “works made in response to the pandemic or addressing issues that have become more relevant due to covid,” says Holmberg. Those include the world premiere of UK photographer Alistair Morrison’s film Time to Pause, including portraits of more than a thousand global citizens shot in their own isolation.

The other new sidebar ‘Voyage’ is meant to take audiences on a tour of the best recent films, from Germany’s Undine by Christian Petzold, the US film MLK/FBI by Sam Pollard, to the French drama A L’abordage by Guillaume Brac and the Swedish chiller and festival’s closing film Knocking by Frida Kempff.

“With the opening film Tove and closing film Knocking, Göteborg is truthful to its strong commitment to female directors, behind 47% of all festival films,” stresses Holmberg.

Meanwhile Gōteborg’s native star filmmaker Ruben Östlund, recipient of this year’s Nordic Honorary Dragon Award, will present a retrospective of his work and attend a Masterclass on Thursday February 4. “We hope that he will give us a sneak-preview of Triangle of Sadness,” says Holmberg who will moderate Östlund’s live streamed interview.

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Göteborg Festival keeps programme to its core

Ruben Östlund / PHOTO: Tobias Henriksson

Göteborg’s industry events TV Drama Vision will unspool February 3-4 and Nordic Film Market February 4-7.

For the festival’s full programme, check: www.goteborgfilmfestival.se.

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Göteborg Festival keeps programme to its core

Isolated Cinema Pater Noster / PHOTO: GFF
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