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The inaugural Nordic Film Festival will showcase films from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, promising a Eurovision Song Contest romantic comedy, a Golden Globe nominee, a steaming horror film set in a Finnish Sauna, the biggest budget Norwegian film of all time, and a Coen Brothers-style black comedy … among other things.

Working jointly to present the festival, The Royal Danish Embassy, the Finnish Embassy, the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Swedish Embassy aim “to give an introduction to Nordic Culture and lifestyle, and expand the cultural exchange between Australia and the Nordic countries by bringing award winning Nordic cinema to Australian audiences. The Nordic Embassies have worked with their respective film institutes to secure award winning films,” the festival team says. “We believe that the insight into Nordic cultural and lifestyle will give a better understanding of the shared Nordic values such as human rights, equality, social inclusion and respect for nature.”

"a thrilling horror film"

The festival opens with Sauna (Finland) from director AJ Annila (Bandidas), a thrilling horror film bathing in Finnish Sauna culture in the murky zone between Christianity and paganism. A hit of the Toronto Film Festival in 08 and a further 30 festivals since, Sauna approaches themes such as sin, repentance and atonement – themes deeply rooted in the mythical Finnish gloominess – via a genre that has until now been almost non-existent in Finnish cinema.

Fresh from Toronto 09 is Norway’s biggest budget blockbuster of all time Max Manus, the true story of the resistance fighter, who in spite of being one of the most wanted men by the Gestapo in Norway, participated in some of the most daring attacks during WWII.

"based on true events"

A coincidental companion piece to Max Manus, the Danish noir Flame And Citron from director Ole Christian Madsen (Prague) stars Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, After the Wedding) and Thure Lindhart (Into the Wild) as two resistance fighters (described by the Guardian as ‘a pair of patriotic loose cannons’) in Nazi occupied Copenhagen. One of the biggest budget Danish films of all time and the biggest hit of the year, Flame And Citron is based on true events and has screened to great acclaim at Toronto, Telluride & London International Film Festivals.

Described by Variety as comparable to the work of the Coen Brothers and David Lynch is the Danish black comedy Terribly Happy from Oscar nominated director Henrik Ruben Genz. Winner of 7 of the 2009 Danish Robert Awards (Danish Oscars) & the Grand Prix Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Terribly Happy follows Robert, a Copenhagen cop who takes the job of constable in a small town to help him bury the skeletons in his closet. However, village life and the macabre provincial order don’t quite fit into his plans...Terribly Happy is Denmark’s official entry for the 2010 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film nomination and the English language remake is already in the pipeline.

"a riotous romantic comedy"

From Sweden, the Golden Globe nominated film Everlasting Moments by Oscar nominated director Jan Troell (The Emigrants), a touching film about a working-class woman in the hard days of early 1900s Sweden who wins a camera in the lottery, allowing her to see the world through new eyes. Once In A Lifetime, also from Sweden and directed by Susanne Bier (After the Wedding, Open Hearts, Brothers), is a riotous romantic comedy about Mona who is an assistant to handicapped David. When the song they secretly create is accepted for the Eurovision Song Contest their lives are drastically altered.

Starring a who’s who of young Norwegian cinema, The Man Who Loved Yngve is a warm, humorous ensemble drama and emotional coming out for 17 year old protagonist Jarle. In Stavanger following the fall of the Berlin Wall Jarle and his mates are set to launch the town’s toughest punk band when the new boy in class, Ynvge, turns Jarle’s world upside down.

"in a Boy’s Home on a strange island"

Finland’s entry to the 2009 Academy Awards, the sweet and touching drama The Home Of Dark Butterflies is based on the best-selling novel about 14yr old Juhani who, after a traumatic childhood experience, ends up in a Boy’s Home on a strange island with barely any other inhabitants.

Published October 8, 2009

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Sauna (Photo: Aleksi Koskinen)

Oct 16-21 at Dendy Opera Quays

Oct 23-26 at Dendy Canberra

Oct 30 Oct–Nov 1 Cinema Nova

Max Manus

Terribly Happy

The Man Who Loved Yngve

Home of Dark Butterflies

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