Women to the fore in Göteborg film fest

The Göteborg Film Festival has long established itself as the most important film festival in Sweden, something that was in evidence this year, thanks to an impressive line-up of both Nordic and international films.

Several Oscar nominated film were shown at Göteborg such as Good Night and Good Luck and Munich. Transamerica, with Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman as a transexual, was one of many films that explored gender and sexuality.

This gender focus was in evidence in a number of the festival’s master classes: the British documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto, who focuses on the conditions of women around the world, was there with her latest doc on women in South Africa, entitled Sisters In Law. Canadian independent director Larry Kent brought with him The Hamster Cage, and Canadian director Jean Marc Vallée, was there with his film C.R.A.Z.Y a coming out story about a young man in Quebec in the 1960’s.

The festival also looked at the role of women in the film world. Seminars were held to discuss how to increase the participation of women in film-making, with perhaps one of the most eye-catching initiatives coming from Doris Film, a group of Göteborg-based film-makers who have written their own Doris Manifesto for feminist film-making. In this, they insist that all their films are written by women, that they all have at least one female leading part, and that women fill all the major artistic and decision-making roles.

One Swedish woman leading the way is director Lena Einhorn, who not only took home the most prestigious award for Swedish film this year, the Guldbagge for best film and script to Nina’s Journey, but also won a newly established award – the Mai Zetterling Award, named for one of Sweden’s most renowned directors, and a pioneer for Swedish women in film.

The festival featured 200 new Swedish films, many by debutants. The festival serves as a meeting place for directors, actors, critics, distributors, buyers and spectators – all impacted by innovative seminars on the themes this festival’s films explore.

Göteborg has earned the reputation of being a good spot to catch the best films of the year not only from Sweden, but also from Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

The movies presented at the festival included ten films in progress and twenty new Nordic films, including Amir Chamdin’s God Willing (Om Gud vill) about an immigrant to Sweden who has started a hamburger chain, with new original film music by Nina Persson (The Cardigans) and Susanna Edward’s feature debut Keillers Park, that tackles the subject of homophobia and hate crime.

“It is very exciting to be able to present work in progress programme as strong as the one we have this year. And we are also very happy that, for the first time, the programme includes Nordic TV drama,” said Cia Edström, project manager of the Nordic Event.

Moira Sullivan

Moira Sullivan is a freelance journalist and member of the Swedish Film Critics’ Association