Göteborg shows Nordic films to the world

On the 27th January the curtains will go up on the 29th Göteborg Film festival, with the Swedish premier of the biopic Good night and Good luck directed by George Clooney.

The festival started back in 1976 as a vehicle to showcase non-mainstream movies to the general population. The size of the festival has grown year on year, from an initial showcase of 17 movies in 3 theatres watched by some 3000 visitors it now runs over 400 films in a multitude of cinemas and is visited by over 110,000 people.

The festival is also used to attract world attention to Nordic movies. Within the festival runs a 4 day showcase called the Nordic event during which Nordic movies are screened to over 130 invited guests, including some of the and most powerful names in world cinema. The aim is to promote Nordic movies that may then be picked up for other festivals and for worldwide release.

“The Nordic Event at the Göteborg Film Festival is the largest marketplace for new Nordic films, with specially invited guests from all over the world, The work with the market is one way of promoting Nordic films abroad,” says the festival’s Åsa Larsson.

However, even in Sweden the amount of revenue created by Swedish movies is eclipsed by American films in particular. Currently about 20% of cinema receipts each year in Sweden are for Swedish movies, but with the exception of two or three films the majority of Swedish movies have a hard time making a profit. Does the Nordic event work; is there an increase in Nordic film sales?

“The mere fact that we have a large festival increases the public interest for film. One example of this is that all of the cinemas in Göteborg, not only the ones that we use sell more tickets during the festival than they do a normal week in January,” says Larsson.

“As the festival takes place in January, of course the winner of the Nordic Film Award has an advantage when it comes to the marketing during both the Berlinale and the Cannes Film Festival.”

Göteborg has an established mix of the old and new when it comes to cinemas and it is still a place where you can find one screen cinemas eking out a living in the shadows of the large Multiplexes that have seemingly taken over the viewing experience for the majority of movie goers. Larsson says the access to classic cinemas has an effect on the tone of the festival.

“We like to give the audience a proper theatre experience where they can enjoy good films on the big screen.

“It is quite a problem to find suitable theatres to use for screening as more and more of the cinemas are closed down.”

The reality that the older cinemas are closing down is one faced by almost all cities in Europe. The fact that they hung on for so long is a testament to the cities cinema going public. But the huge numbers attending the festival attest to its popularity. Over 100,000 people come to the festival each year, that’s a pretty impressive number for late January.

“I think the fact that we offer such a wide range of really good films is the base of it all. Anyone can find something in our programme that they like.”

“Hopefully some of the passion for film that everyone that works with the festival has shows in our work and in the laid-back and generous atmosphere that characterizes the festival as a whole.”

Films from over sixty countries are competing in the festival, with movies being shown from countries as diverse as Cameroon, Kyrgyzstan, Guinea-Bissau and the UK and Ireland. This in itself marks the festival as a world event.

The festival has a number of awards each year with the main event being the Nordic Film award. This year the finals list for this prize includes Beowulf & Grendel (Sturla Gunnarsson) which was shown at the Toronto Film festival to rave reviews, We Shall Overcome (Niels Arden Oplev) which has been selected for the kinderfilmfest at the 2006 Berlin film festival, the biopic Matti – Hell is for Heroes (Aleksi Mäkelä) and Wellkåmm to Verona (Suzanne Osten) a burlesque Swedish movie set among senior citizens.

The festival opens to the public on 29th January. Tickets can be booked online at:


Gerry Coburn