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2012 STOCKHOLM FILM FESTIVAL

FILM

Power, Pussy Riot and Redford hit Stockholm

As the 23rd Stockholm International Film Festival draws back the curtain this week, Peter Vinthagen Simpson explores this year’s theme of “power” to find out what Robert Redford and Pussy Riot have in common.

Power, Pussy Riot and Redford hit Stockholm

“With twelve films that pose uncomfortable questions and in different ways challenge power and authority, we discuss…the shapes of power within politics as well as within art and relationships,” reads a festival statement.

“May you come to the attention of those in authority” is said to be the second of three traditional Chinese curses and the one that captures the aftermath, and perhaps the intention, of Russian activist group Pussy Riot’s Punk Prayer performance in a Moscow cathedral in February 2012.

The performance and the ensuing trial of several of the group’s members became perhaps the news event of the year and brought global focus on the power wielded by President Vladimir Putin on the Russian courts.

The film Tomorrow by Andrey Gryazev tells the story of the Vojna resistance movement that spawned Pussy Riot.

CLICK HERE FOR THE TOP TEN SUGGESTIONS FOR THE 2012 STOCKHOLM FILM FESTIVAL

Power within the world of cinema is explored in Love Marilyn, presenting an insight into the mind-set of Marilyn Monroe, one of the most celebrated icons of the silver screen. The film portrays the struggles of being a sole female star in a sea of male leads.

The Perverts Guide to Ideology by Sophie Fiennes and featuring the philosopher Slavoj Zizek, is a cinematic journey into the heart of ideology defined as “the dreams that shape our collective beliefs and practices”.

The power of the mass media is brought under the microscope in the Central Park Five, a documentary by Ken and Sarah Burns about an infamous 1989 case in New York City that saw five black and Latino teenagers convicted for a brutal slaying that they did not commit.

The men were eventually freed from all suspicions in 2002 and the film gives them the chance to tell of their experiences as victims of a city-wide mob mentality fuelled by a frenzied news media.

Among the other films featured in the Spotlights section is The Company You Keep by Robert Redford.

The film tells the story of the Weather Underground – a group of radical anti-Vietnam war activists who launched a campaign of bombing on American soil.

The festival opens on Wednesday with Call Girl, a film by Swedish directorial debutant Mikael Marcimain.

Starring Swedish Star Wars actor Pernilla August as a 1970s society madam, the film is based on the true story of a prostitution case which led to the political scandal which became known as the Geijer affair.

The film is one of 20 competing for the prestigious Bronze Horse, awarded for “Best Film”, and has been credited by some observers with taking Swedish film to new heights.

The Bronze Horse has in the past been awarded to the likes of Quentin Tarrantino, Lars Von Trier, Larry Clark and Debra Granik.

The jury this year will be lead by US actor Peter Fonda, still perhaps best known for his role in 1960s cult classic Easy Rider and a revamped version of the film is due to be shown on November 10th in his honour.

Fonda will however not be the only Hollywood a-lister in attendance with Willem Dafoe due to visit Stockholm to collect the newly created Stockholm Achievement Award.

The American actor is one of the highlights of the Face2Face seminar series.

Many of the seminars are in English and Face2Face gives the fans the chance to meet all the directors, actors and filmmakers visiting the festival.

The festival’s director Gitt Scheynius has described this year’s festival programme as “perhaps our most daring to date” and points out that a third of the films were made by a female director.

Although it is a male director who has been awarded the festival’s award for lifetime achievement in the form of veteran Swede Jan Troell.

Troell remains active despite his age of 81, although he is perhaps still best known to those outside of Sweden for his films based on the epic Emigrants suite of novels by Vilhelm Moberg.

The first of the two films, The Emigrants, was nominated for several Academy Awards.

The Stockholm International Film Festival is no glamorous cocktails and canapé mingle, it is a festival for the movie-lover and, there is sure to be something to titillate all tastes.

“May you live in interesting times” is perhaps the most well known of the traditional Chinese curses, but with over 170 films on offer over its 12 day duration, could just as well be a call to get yourself a festival membership card and immerse yourself in the magic of the movies.

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FILM

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.

READ ALSO: Decision on stricter restrictions for foreign travellers to be made quickly

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.

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