A black comedy about neighbours fighting over a tree. A harrowing recreation of the worst incident on Norwegian soil since World War II. A gothic interpretation of a well-known folk tale. A film about an infatuated college student who discovers she has unusual abilities. These are just some of the Nordic films headed to Australia as part of the 2018 Scandinavian Film Festival — and yes, it's shaping up to be a great year for movies hailing from the colder parts of Europe.
All of the above titles — the opening night's Under the Tree, Berlinale hit U – July 22, the gorgeously shot Valley of Shadows and the empathetic thriller Thelma — head to the festival after amassing quite the buzz at overseas events, and they have plenty of company. Across the Scandinavian Film Festival's almost month-long tour of the country, between July 10 and August 5, 21 features will grace Australian screens, showcasing everything from the latest award-winners to the career output of one of the region's late master filmmakers.
In the first camp falls Border, which is based on a short story by author John Ajvide Lindqvist and just won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes; high-school comedy Amateurs, the recipient of the best Nordic film award at this year's Goteburg Film Festival; and Winter Brothers, a flick about siblings living in a remote region that nabbed nine Danish Academy Awards. In the latter category, viewers can celebrate the life and career of renowned Swedish director Ingmar Bergman in the 100th anniversary of his birth, with six Swedish figures — including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy's Tomas Alfredson — making shorts inspired by the influential filmmaker for compilation effort Bergman Revisited.
Other highlights include a semi-scripted cross-cultural comedy about two Danish men trying to set up a dog breeding business in China, aka The Saint Bernard Syndicate, SXSW-standout Heavy Trip, a film about a heavy metal muso spearheading a music festival in a small Finnish town, and The Real Estate, which attacks the chasm between the rich and the not-so in an unflinching fashion. In short: if it hails from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland and it popped up over the past year, it's probably on the lineup.
The Scandinavian Film Festival tours the country between July 10 and August 5, screening at Sydney's Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona and Palace Central from July 10–29; Melbourne's Palace Cinema Como, Palace Brighton Bay and Palace Westgarth from July 12–29; and Brisbane's Palace Barracks from July 19 to August 5. For the full program, visit the festival website.