32nd Goteborg International Film Festival
Sweden, January 23 - February 2 2009
Nathan Lee (USA), Antti Selkokari (Finland), Ingeborg Bratoeva-Daraktchieva (Bulgaria)
The Blessing by
Heidi Maria Faisst
(Denmark, 2009, 75 mins)
Sprawling in scale but intimate in feel, the 32nd Göteborg International Film Festival lit up the grey Nordic winter in Sweden’s second largest city. Unspooling from January 23 to February 2, the premiere showcase for Scandinavian cinema screened 450 short, feature, and documentary films from around the world, including several competition categories for international debut film, Nordic feature, and Swedish short.
Supplementing this rich central selection of Northern European cinema were an array of sidebars and special sections devoted to a host of national, cultural, and cinematic topics. A trio of films by Nuri Bilge Ceylan topped a valuable survey of recent Turkish cinema, while the local premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Milk opened an “LGBT” section of “love stories that are not the conventional, heterosexual ones”. Celebrated American animator Bill Plympton was the artist in focus of an “Animania” sidebar that confirms the ascendancy of the form on the international festival circuit, and several sections highlighted excellence in documentary filmmaking.
Festival favorites and new films by the “masters” (Jia Zhang-ke, Terence Davies, Claire Denis, etc.) allowed locals to catch up on the best of recent international cinema, while hot on the tail of the Oscar nominations, Göteborg presented gala screenings of multiple-nominees Frost/Nixon and Slumdog Millionaire. (Nathan Lee)