27th Tromso International Film Festival
Norway, January 16 - January 22 2017
Martin Botha (South Africa), Kristin Aalen (Norway), Robenson Eksiel (Greece)
(Romania, 2016, 128 mins)
This festival takes place when the sun returns to the horizon after the polar night. On the Tuesday of the festival week the sun made an appearance at 12 noon and disappeared before 1 pm. The majestic city of Tromso, the gateway to the Arctic, is an ideal place for a film festival. The centre is small and all the cinemas are within walking distance of each other. Outside temperatures were mild during the festival. The festival was established in 1991 and specialises in quality films without Norwegian distribution. It has been described as probably the world’s northernmost major film event and presents a cutting edge international programme, all films shown as Scandinavian premieres.
During this year’s festival a total of 143 feature films, shorts and documentaries were screened in the multiplex Aurora Kino, the beautiful old cinema Verdensteatret (which was built in 1915), the Halogaland Theatre and the KulturHuset. The festival had more than 60000 admissions in total and 292 individual screenings took place. More than 3000 people visited the festival’s popular winter cinema at Tromsø’s main square.
The festival opened with the world premiere of the film Tongue Cutters (Tungeskjærerne), a documentary about children by Norwegian director Solveig Melkeraaen. The new sidebar Norwegian Horizons featured six more Norwegian films, all having their premiere at TIFF.
Sápmi 100 celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the first national Sami convention. A highlight from this programme was the screening of Nils Gaup’s classic Pathfinder (1987) with a new specially composed soundtrack – that was performed live!
Another highlight was the opening film of the Films from the North section. This part of the festival focuses on the best of new shorts and documentaries made in the Barents region and other polar areas. Director Gunilia Bresky’s Son of the Sun (Solens Son) is a lyrical celebration of the life of Nils-Aslak Valkeapää (1943-2001), the most famous Sámi artist who ever lived. He was born into a family of traditional reindeer herders, but he chose to become an artist as he could not kill reindeers. He was a poet, a painter, a yoiker, a composer, as well as a photographer.
Romanian auteur Cristian Mungiu was the festival’s Guest of Honour. His new film Graduation (Bacalaureat) had its Norwegian premiere at TIFF, while four of his earlier films were featured in a retrospective sidebar.
Through the sidebar Focus: Turkey the festival offered fine examples of contemporary Turkish cinema.
Seven films received awards at the official closing ceremony for TIFF 2017.
The Fits (USA) by Anna Rose Holmer won the festival’s main prize the Aurora Award.
Graduation by the festival’s Guest of Honor, Romanian Director Cristian Mungiu received the FIPRESCI Award. Jury members were: Martin Botha (South Africa), Robbie Eksiel (Greece) and Kristin Aalen (Norway). The motivation for the award is as follows: For a compelling portrait of a dysfunctional family, which masterfully weaves an intimate character drama into an intelligent commentary on decaying societies, the FIPRESCI prize goes to GRADUATION.
The Tromsø Palm, for best film in TIFF’s short and documentary program Films from the North went to Midsummer Nightby Swedish director Jonas Selberg Augustsén.
The Don Quijote Prize is awarded by FICC, and went to the breathtaking Heartstone (Hjartasteinn) by Icelandic director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson. The Norwegian Peace Film Award was presented to Hunting Fliesby Izer Aliu, Norway. The Faith in Film Award went to Forever Pure(Israel, UK, Norway) by director Maya Zinshtein. The Tromsø Audience Award, was presented to the Norwegian DocumentarySealers – One Last Huntby directors Trude Berge Ottersen and Gry Elisabeth Mortensen.
After the awards ceremony the closing night film La La Land was screened. (Martin Botha)