Snowstorm


It is less than 17 hours before the opening of the 34th Göteborg International Film Festival. But it is a long way before I´ll arrive.
I have been at the Sundance Film Festival and on my way back a snowstorm over New York stopped my the scheduled flight.
I´m now in the hometown of the Motown-music and also the most violent city in the US. Tonight I hope to come on a flight to Amsterdam and from there direct to Göteborg for the opening at 17:30. Will I get time to change clothes.

I had to missions in Sundance, to watch films for the 2012 edition of GIFF and promote THE MILL & THE CROSS, a Polish/Swedish co-production.
Fantastic reviews in the trade papers Variety and Screen.
It will be played both in Göteborg and Rotterdam.
Lech Majewski is the director and Rutger Hauer is playing Pieter Bruegel.

Detroit Jan 27th

Freddy Olsson

Last stop: Amsterdam

Amsterdam is all about documentaries at the moment.

Amsterdam is all about documentaries at the moment.

The last film festival we visit before it’s time for our own is the world’s largest documentary film festival, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), which gathers more than 250 current documentaries and a large, large audience.

Don’t know if it’s my own focus that has changed, but this year it feels like there are a lot of movies that depict conditions in Africa in different ways. For example, films depicting the last election in Ghana (An African Election), soccer in Tanzania (Albino United), disabled musicians in Zimbabwe (IiThemba) and the Masai people of East Africa (Masai on the Move). There is also Swedish Staffan Julén’s My Heart of Darkness, which depicts the return of veterans from the civil war in Angola.

A large number of films I found in the programme address various aspects of the giant country of Congo. The films about Congo are all made with the country’s past conflicts as a backdrop. American Pushing the Elephant depicts Rose Mapendo, a Congolese who ended up in a death camp with her family in the 90s, where her husband was murdered and she was separated from one of her daughters. Danish competition film Blood In The Mobile tells about the dirty handling of minerals for cell phones. The minerals are extracted from the country’s over-exploited mines. Most of the films with stories from Africa are, unfortunately, made by filmmakers from the U.S. and Europe. An exception is Congo in Four Acts, an episode film by three Congolese directors, which is the result of a workshop for first-time filmmakers, which has been financed by, among others, the IDFA’s own film fund – the Jan Vrijmans Fund. The films are naked depictions of living conditions in today’s Congo, and give rise to thoughts about how our world has become so unfair.

Last Wednesday films were nominated for each competition class, and we can proudly announce that one of the nominees in the debut category was the Philippine film Kano: An American and His Harem by Monster Jimenez. The film has received post-production support from the GIFF Fund and had its world premiere here at IDFA. It will be screened at our festival this winter. We wish them luck in the contest!

Amsterdam, 25 November

Ulf Sigvardson

Invasion of the Toads

The Film House Stockholm, September 7, 2010, at 20.41. I have seen a avant-premiere of Blind Faith, directed by Kristian Petri,
I go down the entrance to the Swedish Film Institute, on the way in  comes the  big toads.

Are they taking over or is it a disguised prince whom with a kiss
will bring us a new national program for the noble art of film.
Football has got its octupus. Now the film has got its toad.

/Freddy

Chinese Victory

12 days and 48 feature length films later I´m homesick, It has been a real film festival summer with Karlovy Vary, Wroclaw and Locarno following one after the other.

Both Karlovy Vary and Locarno are prestigous festivals with a reputation. But they have problems cause they are coming between two gigants, Cannes and Venice. Every film maker, producer or sales agent want there film to participate in one of these festivals and every other festival has to wait for the verdict from Cannes, Venice (and Berlin).

There aren´t enough of good films to fill the competition line ups for all the festivals classified as A-festivals, with only International premieres in main competition. But you can find gold dust everywhere.

I´m very happy with the juries i Locarno. I totally agree about most of the winners. The prize for best film was awarded Winter Vacation rirected by Li Hongqi. He is in a way related to Roy Andersson in his visual style. The dialogue is fantastic in it´s humour and in the subtext you find a very hard criticism of the Chinese system.

Director Lin Hongqi and the producer Alex Chung

A friend of the Göteborg-festival and regular Locarno-visitor, Curling was his fourth film there, won the best director award. I´m sure many of you can recognize the director from Montreal by watching his tatoos.

Best director in Locarno Denis Coté for Curling

And of course I´m happy that I could bring home a trophe for Autumn Man in the Leopards of Tomorrow competition.
The conclusion of Locarno is the same as from Cannes, Asia is strong film-region 2010.

/Freddy Olsson

Unpacking in Gothenburg

Cannes 2010 has ended for me. Seven days, 21 films and lots of fun, drinks, late nights and good parties  is exactly enough. The best party was of course our own on Monday night at Long Beach Restaurant on the Croisette. It started off really well, and just got more and more intense as the hours and DJs, in our DJ marathon, went right into the dark Cannes night. After a few DJs the drumming team from Swedish Critic Week’s competing doubled the  intensity with their beat driven performance. Starting off with electronic and excerpts from the film, it ended in great style with several drummers on the beach and loads of maraccases that were thrown out in the crowd. That sound then went on for hours as the maraccases were kept by the dancing crowd that got bigger and bigger.

As for myself, and my musical taste in punk and post punk, the DJ sets from Sarajevo and Rotterdam festivals were the peak of the night. Not on every dance floor these days, you get to hear Public Image Ltd, Buzzcocks, New Order, The Cure, Joy Division, Ramones almost in a row – nothing less than fantastic!!!

On Tuesday night it was perfect to conclude the Monday beats with the screening of the really good première of Sound of Noise at Miramar in Critic’s Week. Loads of people from the crew crowded the small stage, and on it went with this witty, funny, exciting and well composed feature, Well composed and challenging was also the four musical parts with the drumming group – one can really understand that there has been some thorough research done to find the most interesting percussive sounds. Everything from bill notes, coins and a beer belly to pneumatric drills and elkectric wires makes the musical experience marvellous. Already waiting to see it again when it gets it theatrical release. As a Swede it was an extra dimenison to see some quite well-known Swedish film and TV actors in smaller roles besides the fine performance by main actor bengt Nilsson and the percussion team lead by Sanna Persson.

I summed up my film list today, and out of the 21 films I’ve seen, there are eight that really would be nice to have in our next festival, this coming winter. I cross my thumbs!

My luggage has been unpacked, and now I’m emptying my iPhone camera. Not always the best quality from that camera (especially at night time) but here is a bunch:

A party is being prepaired.A sunny bar table some hours before the crowds arrived.Ballons and flags with the GIFF logo are important.An untouched table.GIFF "house DJ" Nina Natri.

Swedish Noise on the way.

It's the Sound of Noise.Nina and Finnish (Hollywood) country fellow man Renny Harlin.GIFF PR Manager Camilla Larsson presenting a certain Finnish-Hollywood director as DJ.The crowd get bigger at the bar beach.The DJ team from Sarajevo Film Festival.A certain GIFF CEO enjoying the dance floor.The DJ team from Rotterdam Film Festival.Time for GIFF officials to leave the party with all the balloons.Sound of Noise team (part 1) at Miramar première.Sound of Noise team (part 2) at Miramar première.

/Ulf Sigvardson

Some days just disappear

Yesterday, the schedule said that it was my time to blog. But I’m very sorry, the blog was silent all Saturday, just couldn’t find the time – running between films, quick coffees, lunch and so on …

One of the most fascinating things with watching 4-5 films per day is the mix of experiences you get through the screen. The last couple of days some of mine include;

– coming of age in Singapore
– violence on a remote island in South Korea
– the mysteries of time, space, the devastating experinces from Pinochet’s Chilean dictatorship and where we all come from
– the strange wasteland landscapes created by renown artist Anselm Kiefer
– a divorced man killing four people in Bucarest
– the corruption behind the economic crisis in 2008

… and …

– a mass murderer in the shape of a car tyre

As a programmer my main focus this week is to see as much as possible in Semaine de la Critique (Critic’s Week). The main theatre of that section is Espace Miramar, and since queing is an essential part of Cannes Film Festival, I almost everyday get to see this view:

Since I just emptied my camera for the first time in some week, I’m adding some more:

Former Festival director of GIFF, Gunnar Bergdahl (the man in the hat) and Festival producer Håkan Westesson at the Scandinavian Terrace, Friday night.

And I also found this one, from our award ceremony for our Gyllene Draken (Golden Dragon) Award Ceremony on May 6 in Gothenburg, which reminded me of of a big puppet doll boy walking the Croisette in Cannes, some festivals ago. Filmmaker Johannes Nyholm received Gyllene Draken this year, among other things it’s soft and cuddly!

See you!
/Ulf Sigvardson