The Stockholm International Film festival, which this year celebrated its 15th anniversary by offering 170 films from more than 40 countries, could not be exceptional without some specificities. A very particular and somehow natural section for such a festival was the Northern Lights, a section which focuses on films from the Nordic and Baltic countries, a section juged by the FIPRESCI jury. This section gives the audience the possibility to follow young filmmaker’s feature films (mostly first ones). Lets divide the ten films in this section into two parts: 1. Estonians and 2. The others coming from Scandinavian countries. 1. Although these films are all dealing with stories related to their social concerns, Estonian films keep questioning the Soviet past, its particularity and its remains. Revolution of pigs by Rene Reinumägi and Jaak Kilmi fails to attract attention because of an immature, heavily caricatured and grotesque script put together with a deafening and uninteresting musical score. The second, Set Point by Ilma Taska, suffers from huge incoherency which makes it a pretentious debut film. 2. The Scandinavian films are concerned, regardless of their genre, with the lack of communication between people, friends, familly members, etc. Producing Adults by Aleksi Salmenperä, this year’s entry to the Oscars, or Aftermath by Paprika Steen (Denmark) are the best exemples. Two films with good stories, messages, scripts and images. – mostly local but subjects not so unfamiliar to people from other cultures. Masjävlar by Maria Blom (Sweden), a nice film with beautiful landscapes, unfortunately more than déjà vu, treats the lack of communication among family members by using the contradiction between country and city people. A subject with which swedish people identify themeselves. Uno by Aksel Hennie (Norway) puts Norvegians versus uneducated immigrant working class people dealing with gangs. It says also that some prejudices remain the same – foreigners bring muscles but not brainpower. There again a lack of communication is present. A global vision of Northern comedies, makes one believe that very commercial, not to say cheap, comedies are very much appreciated in these countries. Because they are present here and there. Unfortunately The Woman Of My Life by Alexander Eik (Norway) didn’t help to combat this tendency to “generalize!” Nevertheless I should mention that each country shows its particularity through its films: Aftermath takes place in Danish tradition of dealing with some concepts such as heavy atmospheres, relationship and familly dramas. Uno shows the problem of immigration in Norway . The only one which, to a certain extend, does not fit into the Finnish style – very black humour, self ironical humour…- is Producing Adults.
Let’s hope with Andrea Reuter, the current programme director of the festival, that in the near future we are going to see technically high level made films, well packaged and acted, alongside with an interesting visual aspects. She believes that this will soon happen thanks to: 1. The high level of teaching in schools; 2- The fact that film makers take a long time to get their films produced, so it becomes mature; 3. People starting to make films after a good career as actors, script writers, or theater directors. I wish this would happen, but meanwhile, considering the films shown in Stockholm, in spite of the good quality of some of them, none presented a new cinematic language or strayed from the beaten track. Therefore, there are no encouraging signs of the advent of a new von Trier, Kaurismäki or Bergman.
Now lets talk about a very positive decision of the festival to respect the quota between men and women film makers, except in the competition section. It may anger some sensitive minds, but I, as a woman, agree with Git Scheynius, the festival director, who says, “The audience is composed by 50% women and the festival is proud to present for the first time in Stockholm film festival’s history, fresh female directors.” Another attractive point about the Stockholm film festial is its i-festival competition section. Created in 2000, it shows the interest of the festival in future techniques. In this respect, the Stockholm Film Festival was the first one in the world to have its own home page and publish its catalogue on the web in 1994. They believed that with the digital revolution, the festival can get faster and cheaper films made by people by screening them on the net. It was immediately a success because 400,000 physical people watched it over the whole world and last year this number increased to 500,000 people. This year ten short animation films were in competition for winning 50,000 Swedish crowns. A very good incentive for animation film makers. Not surprisingly, this section of the festival has been very much advocated by Git Scheynius. Those who want to participate in this festival or get some information about it, can consult www.filmfestivalen.se
© FIPRESCI 2004