26th Stockholm International Film Festival
Sweden, November 11 - November 22 2015
The Stockholm International Festival, which was launched in 1990, prides itself for being the fourth in the world, after Cannes, Berlin and Venice, to host a FIPRESCI jury. The Open Zone section, on which the FIPRESCI jury focuses, included 22 films this year, some of them by well-known directors such as Jafar Panahi, Todd Haynes and Matteo Garrone, others that have already won FIPRESCI awards in other festivals such as The High Sun, Koza and Aferim!, as well as films by first time directors such as Piero Messina’s beautiful The Wait starring Juliette Binoche as a grieving mother and Stephen Dunn’s cheeky Closet Monster about a youngster coming to terms with his sexual inclination.
Alongside the main competition (21 films) and the documentary competition (20 films), which included festival favorites such as Mustang and The Wolfpack respectively, this year’s edition launched a new international competition which was given the title Impact. This section included only seven films and was dedicated to “headstrong visionaries who reflect our contemporary world,” according to the festival’s statement. The award is joined by a grant of 1 million SEK, the equivalent to approximately $120K, which makes it one of the biggest film awards in the world. This sum is geared towards supporting the development of the winning director’s next project. The first jury of this competition included the dissident Chinese artist and international star Ai Weiwei, and the first winner was the Indian film Parched by Leena Yadav.
Other famous guests included the great American actress Ellen Burstyn who was honored with the Stockholm Achievement Award, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos who received the Visionary Award (joining past winners such as Roy Andersson, Jacques Audiard, Wong Kar-wai and Wes Anderson) and British director Stephen Frears, winner of the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award (the first of which was won by Roger Corman in 1990).
All in all, the festival presented more than 190 films from 70 countries. The FIPRESCI jury chose to award Samuel Benchetrit’s Macadam Stories (Asphalte), which we found to be an insightful, melancholic and tender comedy, filled with quirky deadpan humor. The three separate stories are seamlessly interwoven around the theme of urban loneliness and the longing for human connection, all beautifully drawn, highly nuanced and perfectly paced, while the excellent performances allow the characters humanity to shine through the cracks. (Yael Shuv)
Stockholm International Film Festival: www.stockholmfilmfestival.se