Scandinavian Film Festival L.A. Takes Up Annual Residency
Jan 17, 18, 24, 25 at WGA Theater in Beverly Hills
The 16th Scandinavian Film Festival L.A. (SFFLA) sails into town Jan 17, 18, 24, 25 from across North Atlantic and Baltic waters offering its annual cargo of the representative “latest and best” of Nordic film with offerings from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden along with “Baltic Film Expo at SFFLA” adding films from Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia to the program of its annual “cinema cultural exchange” from the top of Europe at the Writers Guild Theater 135 S. Doheny in Beverly Hills,
“Call it a cargo of culture, commerce, and collaboration,” says festival founder/director James Koenig. “And we have an exciting program that follows old routes to new worlds and around the North Atlantic/Baltic neighborhood.”
An opening night gala buffet Jan 17 (6:30) precedes iconic Swedish Director Roy Andersson’s “A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH CONTEMPLATING EXISTENCE” at 8. The film premiered at the Venice International Film Festival where it was awarded the Golden Lion for Best Film. SFFLA screened the first two installments of the trilogy, made over a period of 14 years (Songs from the Second Floor, and We the Living) and has had the Andersson as a guest of the festival.
The morning of “opening day” kicks off in the at 11 a.m. with Norwegian Director Brunhild Westhagen Magnor’s moving and humorous documentary about an extraordinary women’s volleyball team. The players, all between 66 and 98, might change your ideas on aging. At 1 o’clock IT’S ONLY MAKE BELIEVE from Norwegian Director Arild Ostin Ommundsen offers a tale of love and longing when a mother tries to return to life “on the outside” after serving 10 years in prison for murder..
Bring the whole family at 3 o’clock for Danish Director Ask Hasselbalch’s ANTBOY 2—the REVENGE OF THE RED FURRY! The film is “part 2” of an upbeat kid-flick inspired by the super-hero genre for kids of all ages. Bring kids as a cover. But chances are you’ll enjoy it yourself. The first installment of the hit series opened last year’s festival.
At 4:30 Denmark’s 2015 Oscar submission “SORROW AND JOY” from Nils Malmros flanks the opening gala offering the director’s semi-autobiographical story of a journey to find mutual and mature love in the aftermath of a tragic death.
Jan 18 opens with two Icelandic films— at 11 o’clock a short WHALE VALLEY from Gudmundur Gudmundson about two brothers living on a small remote fjord in Iceland. The film won “Special mention at Cannes” and Best Short Film at the Hamptons. At 11:15 Icelandic Director Baldwin Zophoniansson’s LIFE IN A FISHBOWL, Iceland’s Oscar entry, weaves the tales of three people whose lives have a lasting effect on one another despite a writer’s efforts to shut himself off from the outside world. At 2:00 p.m. the Danish feature SPEEDWALKING from Niels Arden Oplev offers a coming of age film that is humorous, intense, and evocative with its story about Martin on the brink of a manhood and the symbolic right of passage— confirmation and communion. It’s 1976 and music is in the air and hormones are blossoming— but life changes drastically when Martin’s mother suddenly passes away.
At 5 p.m. a powerful Finnish feature film HEART OF A LION from Director Dome Karukoski takes us into the relationships of a Neo-Nazi (Peter Franzen) with the woman he loves, with her bi-racial son, and his with neo-Nazi cohorts that include his half brother. The day’s finale at 7:30 is Norway’s Oscar entry 1001 GRAMS from Bent Hamer (Kitchen Stories). Anna, a scientist who specializes in weights and measures, lives a life of precision, rigidity and solitude whose world falls out of perfect alignment when her father, a fellow scientist, suffers a heart attack. Wry and winsome, this beautifully told and thoughtful human story follows Anna on a journey from Norway to France and back, as she attempts to find the right balance in her life.
On January 24, the second week commences with a journey into Baltic history — first with an Estonian short IVANIPAEV from Ivan Pavliutskov at 10:30 followed by Estonian Director Martti Helde’s feature IN THE CROSSWIND and the moving story of an Estonian woman and her young daughter’s struggle to find their way home after being deported to Siberia by Soviet occupiers in 1941. Then at 3:30 it’s on to Finland's Oscar offering Pirjo Honkasalo’s CONCRETE NIGHT— a dream-like odyssey through beautiful Helsinki for a 14 year old and his older brother who must start a prison sentence on the following day. At 5 p.m. Director Ruben Ostlund’s FORCE MAJEURE, (Sweden’s Oscar entry) takes us on a ski vacation into the aftermath of an avalanche when a family dynamic is shaken to the core after the father “runs for his life” to save himself. The evening festivities and films include the presentation of the SWEA (Swedish Women’s Educational Association) film grant with recipient Caroline Ingvarsson’s short “The Dog Walker” at 7:30 followed at 8 p.m. by an adaptation of Strindberg’s play MISS JULIE from Director Mikael Berg who sets the classic battle of the sexes in a Gatsby-Downton Abbey-esque 1920’s environment.
The final day opens with Norwegian feature PIONEER from Erik Skjoldbjaerg’s thriller set at the beginning of the 1980’s Norwegian oil boom and centered on a diver whose obsessions with reaching the bottom of the North Sea leads to tragedy. At 1:15 a Baltic Expo offering with Lithuanian Oscar entry THE GAMBLER from Ignan Jonynas. A paramedic who is a passionate gambler, is forced to make radical decisions to pay his debts. At 3:30 p.m. a Finnish comedy follows with Leif Lindblom’s RASPBERRY BOAT REFUGEE and the tale of a Swede trapped in the body of a Finn— who attempts to swap identities with a disillusioned Swedish psychologist and become an authentic Swede. Then at 5:30 it’s the return of the Skarsgard family to SFFLA with Petter Moland’s Norwegian thriller IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE where Nils (Stellan Skarsgard), after winning an award to “Citizen of the Year,” gets caught in the crossfire of two rival drug cartels as he attempts to avenge the death of his son who was their victim.. And finally the festival closes with ITSI BITSI at 7:30 p.m. when Danish director Ole Christian Madsen (Superclassico) takes us into the Danish rock scene circa 1962 and the evolution of legendary band Steppeulvene.
Parent organization of SFFLA is The American Scandinavian Foundation of Los Angeles. The festival receives support from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, ELMA (European Languages and Movies in America),SWEA (Swedish Women’s Educational Association), as well as assistance from Nordic Consulates and Embassies, Baltic Consulates and Embassies, and national film institutes, as well as individual and corporate donors. Complete schedule and ticket ordering information available at sffla.net .