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TIFF13: Nordic Films

When I get my TIFF programme book each year, I automatically flip to the back and look up Iceland to see which films will be screening. I developed this passion thanks to TIFF programmer Jane Schoettle, when she ran Sprockets (now TIFF Kids). From listings under Iceland, I peruse the rest of the Nordic film offerings before moving on to other countries to see what my favourite TIFF programmers have selected. Here are my thoughts on this year's Nordic films programmed by Steve Gravestock. (At left, me with Mamma Gogo director, Fridrik Thor Fridriksson).


METALHEAD. I haven't had a chance to see works by director, Ragnar Bragason, but programmer Steve Gravestock calls this film a "darkly comic drama about a grief-stricken young woman who adopts the persona — and decibel-blasting predilections — of her deceased brother." The editor on this one is Valdís Óskarsdóttir, who directed  a blast of a road comedy, Country Wedding (TIFF '08) and edited such films as Eternal Sunshine of the Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Finding Forrester, to name a few.

THIS IS SANLITUN. I'm curious to see how Reykiavik director, Róbert I. Douglas handles this comic co-pro (China, Iceland, Ireland) in which a "pair of hapless ex-pats discover that Beijing isn’t the hotbed of entrepreneurial opportunity they had anticipated" (Steve Gravestock). I enjoyed Douglas' last film at TIFF '05, Eleven Men Out, so I have high hopes for this one.

SEX, DRUGS & TAXATION. In this film "an alcoholic playboy and a meek tax lawyer join forces to revolutionize the travel industry and alter the country’s political landscape ."
Actor, Jesper Christensen's ("Mr. White" in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) name in the cast makes me curious to see this film set in the 1960's Denmark; as does Pilou Asbæk, who starred in TIFF12's A Highjacking. Another cast member, Nicolas Bro, has worked with director, Christoffer Boe on his film Beast, so the collaboration on this film places it fairly high on my Try to See list.


I AM YOURS. More ex-pats, but this time the setting is the Pakistani community in Norway. First time director, Iram Haq is one of the lucky and talented filmmakers whose work has made it into TIFF's Discovery programme. With dialogue in Norwegian, Urdu and Swedish, how can I resist this cultural invitation, especially when the editors are the team that cut my TIFF12 fave, The Hunt (Anne Østerud and Janus Billeskov Jansen), and Axel Helgeland, a producer on one of my favourite melodramas, I Am Dina, and for dogma fans, Lars Von Trier's' Breaking the Waves?

PIONEER. Axel Hennie, is an actor who can make me both love (Max, in Max Manus) and hate (Trond, in 90 Minutes) his characters with equal passion, is back on the TIFF screen this year in Pioneer, a film by Erik Skjoldbjærg, the director Insomnia (later remade by Christopher Nolan). Steve describes this one as a "propulsive, gritty film about the birth of the Norwegian oil industry in the early 1980s."

THE IMMORAL. I'm not familiar with director, Lars Daniel Krutzkoff Jacobsen's work, so I'm going to this one, simply because Steve's description promises something beyond the ordinary for this film. He calls it a boundary-pushing comedy that is both "corrosive" and "provocative." I'm a sucker for a film that "rampages through notions of good taste, as it follows an ex-soldier and a single mother who go into the prostitution business after getting kicked off welfare." Bring. It. On.


HOTEL. Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair) stars in this comedy-drama as a recovering control freak who finds support and a new lease on life when she enters group therapy.

Confession time: I think I'm a 75% control freak. Not as tightly wound as Lisa Langseth lead character, but I do wonder how much of myself I'll see in this director's second feature film. There's nothing like the personal connection to get you into a theatre seat. Who's with me on this one? Control freaks unite!

WE ARE THE BEST. My punk rock soul is urging me on to see Lukas Moodysson's latest TIFF presentation, but my control freak mind is wondering how I'm going to mange to see all of these films! I love the idea of sitting in a movie theatre cheering on these three young women as they navigate high school and the 1980's scene in Stockholm. No doubt cinematographer, Ulf Brantås, will do as spectacular a job on this project as he did in other Moodyson films such as Show Me Love, Together and Fucking Amal.


CONCRETE NIGHT. Believe it or not I sometimes enjoy the catharsis of an "emotionally devastating work", which is why veteran filmmaker, Pirjo Honkasalo's film appeals to me. Honkasalo's film is in the Masters section at TIFF13, and I usually include a viewing of one of these works as I can sit back and let the film unfold, certain that I am in the hands of greatness; however, the bleakness of this tale about "a fourteen-year-old boy in a stifling Helsinki slum [who] takes some unwise life lessons from his soon-to-be-incarcerated older brother" might be too much for me. I don't know...

HEART OF A LION. This one is definitely on my Must See list, as the director, Dome Karukoski, is someone I interviewed at TIFF10, and whose film Lapland Odyssey, I thoroughly enjoyed. I can't wait to see how he shapes this film about a skinhead who falls in love with a woman with a child who is half Black. Perkele!

Toronto International Film Festival
September 5 - 15, 2013
Get Tickets: 
416.599.TIFF | 1.888.599.8433 |


Hayward Sirk said…
I have a ticket to The Immorals and Heart of a Lion, I wish I could fit the others in my schedule.

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