Göteborg is a big film festival – its 2006-edition offered 401 films from 57 countries! The program is extremely multifarious, making it the best place to see Nordic cinema, represented through a few pretty attractive categories: Nordic Light (selections of new films), Nordic Short Stories, Nordic Retro, Swedish World Premieres, Swedish Shorts, as well as many other interesting sidebars. The main interest, of course, is in the principle program: Nordic Competition. (Why only eight titles were included in its selection poses a mystery to me – more filmmakers from the region should have been able to compete). One could spot two generations of film directors in this program: older experts Suzanne Osten (Welcome to Verona / Wellkämm to Werona, 2006), and Aleksi Mäkelä (Matti – Hell is for Heroes / Matti, 2005) on the one hand, and the much more interesting and powerful films of some young debutants on the other.
The young filmmakers seem to share a few features in common: their gift of unfolding a story in a more absorbing way; their ability to keep an eye on much more topical and controversial problems of their time; and their wish to offer an attractive cinema of dynamic language. Amir Chamdin is a debutant, born in Stockholm, who used to be in Infinite Mass (a hip hop band). Since the mid-90’s, he’s been filming music videos, short films, and commercials. God Willing (Om Gud vill) is his first feature film – an interesting story of dreams, love and loneliness in the hot summer of 1975. The feature is made in a highly professional way, with fascinating sincerity on the screen, yet its inventions want more depth than they achieve. Still, there seems to be a triumphant future ahead of this young director.
As far as professional work goes, Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen, another debutant, with the Norwegian film Izzat (2005), is no worse. He, too, had his start in short films, music videos, and commercials, where he obviously mastered his profession. Yet after the ultimate success of Izzat, a drug themed action film, I’d rather he attempted at something more serious, plot-wise, and let us see his next feature enjoying the same high level of professional making, but with a penetrating look at social problems and a deeper psychological portrayal.
French-born Icelandic director Dagur Kari hardly needs any professional advice after his phenomenal debut, Noi, the Albino (Noi albínoí). Now, in his second feature, Dark Horse (Voksne mennesker), he still tells his story convincingly – with expressive black and white cinematography – and yet he seems to have missed part of the charming tenderness of his first film. His Icelandic compatriot, Baltasar Kormakur, even though still quite young, climbs even higher toward both artistic and commercial success. His A Little Trip to Heaven is really good cinema, proving its director’s talent after 101 Reykjavik (2000) and The Sea (2002).