Film festival fever hits Stockholm

The Stockholm Film Festival began on Thursday for its fifteenth year of battle with the Gothenburg Film Festival, and this time 170 films from 40 countries will be shown during the ten day run. Dagens Nyheter offered some survival tips this week, and Göteborgs-Posten got the festival’s director to admit she’d seen Lauren Bacall in her stockings.

The Stockholm Film Festival began in 1990 and has been run by Git Scheynius for the past ten years. The focus of the festival has from the start been on American independent films and Asian films, and this year’s selection includes a few more female directors than usual.

Scheynius takes pride in bringing foreign films to Sweden and told Göteborgs-Posten that the reason the Stockholm festival is so important is for the inspiration it brings to the Swedes – and the low cost of said inspiration. Rather than flying to New York for a premier, budding filmmakers are able to stay close to home, and Scheynius happily noted that every year a number of the films introduced in the festival receive national distribution.

Of course, the interview in GP focused on the battle between the Stockholm festival and the older Gothenburg festival, which receives more than three times as much support from the Swedish Film Institute. Scheynius stayed mostly above the fray, stating only that the Stockholm festival’s international viewpoint fills an obvious need left by the Gothenburg festival’s focus on Swedish and Nordic film.

As could be expected, GP’s interviewer tried to get Scheynius to talk about all the famous people she knew – all the really famous people, not just the Swedes. Scheynius tried to maintain some dignity (she insisted that she and Tarantino weren’t friends) and the paper used their meagre juicy bit in their leading line – Scheynius once drank wine with Lauren Bacall in her hotel room.

Dagens Nyheter ran stories on the opening day of the festival with their picks and some tips for making it through the dizzying choice of films.

For docudramas, DN suggested Tarnation, Jonathan Cauette’s film on surviving childhood. The Corporation got DN’s stamp of approval for putting big business on the couch and treating it to a bit of psychoanalysis. And the must-see? A film by Zach Braff on a melancholic trip home to New Jersey titled Garden State, which merited not only top billing on the front page of the culture section but an interview with the director as well.

DN didn’t restrict itself to film criticism. An article on “How to survive a film festival” gave readers the secrets of five celebrity filmgoers – including Canal Plus’s Hans Wicklund’s advice to learn the clichés: words like “cool” mean rubbish, and if you read about a film described as “important” it’s definitely not going to be too vital.

Johan Croneman offered possibly the best survival tip to the Swedish public: he suggested that everyone learn how to get an aisle seat and “to learn, for your own mental health’s sake, to get up and go. Even if you’ve paid for the ticket”.

If you make it through the big-money films offered at the Stockholm Film Festival and you want to wind down with something a bit more homegrown and, well, arty, the art schools of Sweden have come up with a little something just for you. This year the Swedish art academies, along with a film and drama school or two, have banded together to present an alternative film festival on November 26 and 27.

The festival will be held at the Clarion hotel in Stockholm, the “art hotel” whose owner’s interest in contemporary art has translated to a good deal of support for the cultural sector. 66 student films will be shown in the hotel’s banquet hall as well as over the hotel’s own channel – a method of display probably appropriate to at least some of the work. Sydsvenskan’s article on the works acknowledged that while the individual works have something to do with cinema, this one won’t be just another film festival – after all, it’s called “This Is Not Film.”

The Stockholm International Film Festival (Stockholms 15:e Internationella Filmfestival) runs from November 18-28 at various venues throughout Stockholm.

This Is Not Film (Det här är inte film) runs from November 26-28 at Clarion Hotel Stockholm.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Göteborgs Posten, Sydsvenskan