Graffiti artist film wins top award

The competitive prizes for the oldest and largest film festival in Sweden were announced February 4 at a special gala ceremony at the Museum of World Culture. The Göteborg Film Festival Nordic Film Award went to Dagur Kári for Dark Horse (Voksne Mennesker). The award consists of 150 000 SEK and the Filmdraken (Film dragon) statuette.

“To be nominated for an award like this is like having a race horse”, expressed a happy Dagur Kári, who for the second time received the Nordic Film award in Göteborg. “Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, but of course the nomination helps sell the film. And when you win it is fantastic!”

Dark Horse was shot in black and white centers on the experiences of a graffiti artist in Copenhagen who falls in love with the same woman as his best friend. Kári’s previous win was the esteemed Noi the Albino (2003), a high school drop out who lives in a lonely village in Iceland and dreams of running away with the girl from the gas station.

The Nordic Jury consisted of Monika Tunbäck-Hanson (chairman, Sweden), Sirin Eide (Norway), Hanna Maylett (Finland), Helga Brekkan (Iceland) and Kirsten Dalgaard (Denmark).

The same jury awarded the Kodak Nordic Vision Award for best photo went to Crille Forsberg for God Willing (Om Gud vill– director Amir Chadin) – “a film, which through its magic black and white pictures paints a charming story of love”, according to the jury. Juan who has recently moved to Sweden works in a hamburger stand. One night he meets Julie who later learns the hard way that his girlfriend will soon be joining him.

The winner of Bratek’s Startsladd 2006, a short film award went to Never Like the First Time (Aldrig som första gången) by Jonas Odell – four documents on sexual awakening revealed through an animation collage. The award consists of film equipment worth a total of 400 000 SEK and 100 000 SEK in cash from the Swedish Film Institute. Odell also won the Audience’s Choice Award for best short film.

The Church of Sweden Film Award went to the Danish film We Shall Overcome (Drømmen) directed by Niels Arden Oplev, a film about a young boy whose idol is Martin Luther King, and who is tormented and abused by the school rector.

The FIPRESCI Award, the international film critic’s award, went to the Icelandic film A Little Trip to Heaven by Baltasar Kormákur. The jury consisted of Bojidar Manov (Novinar Daily, Bulgaria), Michel Euvrard (Séquences, Canada) and Eero Tammi (Filmihullu, Finland).

Forest Whitaker stars as an insurance agent who investigates a couple about to inherit a million dollars. The film is set in Minnesota but filmed in Iceland.

Moira Sullivan

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


How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic

A front-line Swedish nurse is getting some Covid downtime with a week of private screenings of the Gothenburg film festival, in a former lighthouse off the country's west coast.

How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic
Competition winner Lisa Enroth.

More than 12,000 candidates from 45 countries applied to watch the festival's films in almost near isolation on an island 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Stockholm.

The prize is a week viewing as many of the festival's 70 premieres as they like in a hotel in the former Pater Noster Lighthouse. But they will be in isolation and will have no access to their own computer or laptop.

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The bright-red lighthouse, built on a tiny island off Sweden's west coast in 1868, is surrounded by a scattering of squat, red buildings originally built to house the lighthouse keeper's family. It can only be reached by boat or helicopter, depending on the weather.

After a series of interviews and tests, festival organisers chose emergency nurse and film buff Lisa Enroth for the prize, in keeping with the 2021 festival's theme, Social Distances.

Before boarding a small speedboat out to the island on the clear, chill winter's morning, Enroth said she had applied not only out of her love for the cinema, but also to seek respite from her hectic work as an emergency nurse during the pandemic.

“It has been hectic, so it's a nice opportunity just to be able to land and to reflect over the year,” she said.

Months working amid Covid crisis

Sweden, which has taken a light-touch approach to the pandemic compared to its neighbours, has been facing a stronger than expected second wave of the virus. So far, more than 11,500 people have died from Covid-19 across the country.

Enroth works in the emergency ward of a hospital in Skovde in central Sweden. Since the start of the pandemic, her hospital's work caring for virus patients on top of their regular workload has been intense.

Lisa Enroth on her way to the remote festival location. Photo: AFP

“We had a lot of Covid cases during this year and every patient that has been admitted to the hospital has been passing through the emergency ward,” she told journalists.

The organisers said they were surprised by the numbers of applicants for the prize but were confident they had chosen the right candidate — not only for her love of cinema.

“She has also dedicated this past year in the frontline against the Covid-19 pandemic,” the festival's creative director Jonas Holmberg said to AFP.

“That's also one of the reasons we chose her”. 

Isolated screenings

Boarding the boat dressed in a thick survival suit, Enroth sped over the calm, icy waters, jumping off in the island's tiny harbour and disappearing into her lodgings.

A screen has been set up in the lantern room at the top of the windswept island's lighthouse, offering a 360-degree view of the sea and coastline around.

Another wide screen has been set up in one of the island's buildings.

Enroth will also have a tablet and headphones if she wants to watch films elsewhere on the island, which measures just 250 metres by 150 metres.

With only one other person staying permanently on the island — a safety precaution — Enroth's only contact with the outside world will be through her video diary about the films she has viewed.

The festival's films will be shown online and two venues in Gothenburg itself will allow screenings for just one person at a time.

Holmberg, the festival's creative director, said he hoped events like these would maintain interest in the industry at a time when many screens are closed because of pandemic restrictions.

“We are longing so much to come back to the cinemas and in the meantime we have to be creative and do the things that we can to create discussion,” he told journalists.