My Must-See List for the 2017 Scandinavian Film Festival

As a low-key [high-key, definitely high-key] ‘scandophile’, I’ve seriously been looking forward to the 2017 Scandinavian Film Festival – and as of July 11, it’s officially in Sydney.

Opening with Aki Kuaurismäki’s Finnish film The Other Side of Hope in Sydney at Palace Norton Street on Tuesday 11th July, the Scandinavian Film Festival kicks off with an amazing film I had the pleasure of seeing at the recent Sydney Film Fest, catch the write-up here. Opening Night is being catered by Fika Swedish Kitchen, a wonderful little restaurant/café in Manly that I applied for a job at – still haven’t heard from them – which makes me want to go and see the film again and enjoy some of Australia’s best Scandinavian cuisine.

Last night I attended a screening and smörgåsbord (with kanelbullar!!) preview of the festival’s centrepiece Kongens Nei (The King’s Choice), a Norwegian historical drama following the elected Norwegian King Haakon VII through the events of a week in April 1940 as tensions rise with Germany, and Norway must decide its involvement in the second world war. This film probably has the most effective use of shaky-cam I’ve ever seen in film.

Here’s my list of want-to-sees at this year’s Scandinavian Film Festival (in order of their appearance in the program booklet):

Tom of Finland

This year’s Special Event is Tom of Finland, winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the Göteburg Film Festival 2017. Tom of Finland is a biographical drama about WWII veteran Touko Laaksonen challenging Finland’s illegality of homosexuality through art, as he works in an advertising agency. With the help of his sister, Touko’s art reaches international recognition, increasing his risk of persecution. It opens in Sydney at Palace Verona July 18th with a pre-film party before the screening – an event I definitely want to attend. (this film is 18+)

Måste Gitt (A Hustler’s Diary)

Partly because it is one of the three Swedish films in this year’s run (and I’m learning Swedish myself), I want to see comedy-drama A Hustler’s Diary as it promises a worthwhile watch revolving around issues of national identity and integration. The film evolves as the secret journal of ‘petty criminal’ Can Demirtas (of Turkish descent) is found by a top publishing house, and our unlikely hero must choose between continuing his criminal life or attaining something higher. This film is Closing the Film Fest on Wednesday August 2nd at both Palaces (Norton and Verona) in Sydney.  (this film is 18+)

A Conspiracy of Faith

This Danish crime thriller has been hailed as “the darkest and most gripping screen adaptation of the Jussi Adler-Olsen novels to date” by the Los Angeles Times, and the trailer backs this up substantially: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUR_3dgAt04.  A Conspiracy of Faith follows detectives Carl and Assad as they unravel the mystery of a message in a bottle written in blood and dated eight years previous, which claims the young boy who wrote it was caught in a religious cult. Soon the disappearances of several children in the community surface. (CTC)

Dræberne fra Nibe (Small Town Killers)

Another Danish film, Small Town Killers follows local husbands Edward and Ib as they hire a Russian contract killer to dispose of both their wives, but the tables are turned when the pair end up on the top of the hit list as a result of underestimating the two women. This black comedy promises to be entertaining, and I can’t wait to see it. (this film is 18+)

Hjartasteinn (Heartstone)

The only Icelandic film in the festival, Heartstone is a beautiful coming of age film set in an Icelandic village as two best friends Thor and Christian discover sexuality, maturity and existence over one summer. I’m especially excited to see this film, as I’ll get an idea of teenage-dom in Icelandic culture, which is directly relevant and interesting to me; being an Aussie teenager. I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen an Icelandic film to check it out, as it’s our one chance in the 2017 Scandi Film Fest to see an Icelandic piece. (this film is 18+)

Sameblod (Sami Blood)

Now, I’ve already seen this film, but it should definitely be on your must-see list. Sameblod, from Swedish director Amanda Kernell explores the maltreatment of indigenous Swedish and Scandinavian peoples and children, to which we as Aussies should notice direct links to our own national heritage in this poignant coming-of-age tale. The film follows Sami teenager Elle-Marja as she is sent to boarding school to learn colonial Swedish culture, behaviour and language, and is faced with the impossible decision of remaining with her culture and people, or rejecting it to start a new life as a Swede. I definitely recommend seeing Sameblod, have a read of my review here.

Apart from all these in particular, I strongly recommend everyone see as many films as possible over the 2017 Scandinavian Film Festival. Films provide us with a glorious, artistic insight into the culture of its composition and setting, and every opportunity given to further your knowledge, understanding and appreciation of another culture in such a worthwhile, entertaining way should be grasped firmly with both hands. Check out the full line-up of films here.

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