The beauty of Scandinavian culture as depicted in film

The third Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival is just about to wrap up. It started on the 5th July and featured 22 films from Scandinavian talent. Films and film festivals are a great way to experience the culture and art of another region of the world, without even pulling out your passport. It’s an important exercise in understanding another way of life, another point of view, another population.

Elysia Zeccola is the Scandinavian Film Festival director, and she was kind enough to share her thoughts here on the blog.

1. What was it about the Scandinavian culture that made you want to start this film festival in the first place?

Scandinavia is so far away, so exotic, and their films are so well crafted. We hardly had the chance to see any of these amazing films before so this was the main reason for starting this festival.

Foreign language film festivals are very important because we are promoting cultures and languages from around the world which fosters understanding and tolerance

2. When was the inaugural year, and how much planning did it take to get the first one up and running?

The festival started in 2014, this is the third year. I attended Cannes to select as many films as possible, but this year I attended Berlin and Cannes, and next year I will be adding Goteborg Film Festival in Sweden to the circuit as there are so many good films to cover and we need to lock them in earlier on as the festival grows. I’m watching films throughout the year but the three months leading up to the festival is intense with things like negotiating for films, pitching to sponsors, organising events, and developing artwork.

3. How different was the first year compared to where it is now?

The festival started off solidly and last year it was up 20% to over 26,000 admissions so it is growing year on year. I think the quality of the films speak for themselves, now it is just a matter of letting more people know about it.

4. What’s the criteria for choosing the films for each year?

I’m looking for a selection of films from each of the five countries represented, they can be dramas, documentaries, comedies, thrillers, any genre, but they have to be new and we only screen Australian premieres (with the odd exception).

The best part about working on the festival is meeting exciting and talented people … Alicia Vikander (who has family in Melbourne) came down to the cinema for an intro once

5. What’s been your favourite film for the Scandinavian Film Festival so far, and why? What’s your favourite for this year and why?

I thought last year’s Cannes-winning Icelandic film RAMS was a stunning film, it was a great story, beautifully shot and with that trademark droll Scandi humour that always goes down so well here.

This year LAND OF MINE is the must-see highlight of the festival. It is based on true events about German POW soldiers sent to Danish beaches to clear mines by hand in the aftermath of WWII. The acting is incredible and you can’t take your eyes off the screen. I also really hope people will go to see NICE PEOPLE which is really funny and very now.

Scandinavian-Film-Festival-Welcome-to-Norway-My-Local-World

WELCOME TO NORWAY is a black comedy about a hotelier who turns his half-built alpine hotel near the Norwegian-Swedish border into a state-funded refugee asylum reception centre.

6. What’s been your best experience working on the Scandinavian Film Festival?

The best part about working on the festival is meeting exciting and talented people. Previous festival guests included Laura Birn and Bianca Kronlof. Alicia Vikander (who has family in Melbourne) came down to the cinema for an intro once. This year brothers Jakob and Jonas Oftebro will be touring to support their films. Watching the audience participate and react and seeing where they laugh is also one of the highlights, it still gives me goose bumps.

7. Why are festivals like this so important, and what do you want people to take away from the experience?

Foreign language film festivals are very important because we are promoting cultures and languages from around the world which fosters understanding and tolerance. Also because we are focussing on one region we can really highlight and celebrate that part of the world. But they are also great films, highly entertaining and well made so I expect audiences to go away thinking, “wow, I should see more Scandinavian movies, I didn’t realise they were so good!”.

For more details visit www.scandinavianfilmfestival.com

 

Thanks to Scandinavian Film Festival for information and images, and Elysia Zeccola for sharing her thoughts 

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