From 19 July to 1 August, Cinema Paradiso will exclusively host 2018’s Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival, showcasing the very best of Nordic cinema.
The festival, which has quickly become one of the most anticipated in Australia following its launch in 2014, moves beyond the traditional noir genre the region was once known for, exploring powerful contemporary dramas, documentaries and comedies from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden that are filled with mystery, dark humour and breathtaking scenery.
This year’s line-up features 21 fabulous films – and here are my top picks.
What Will People Say (Norway)
An incredibly powerful, moving and haunting story that takes an intense look into the lives of a deeply conservative Pakistani family. Young Nisha is living two lives – at home she is a dutiful daughter, but with her friends she is young, fun and carefree. Everything comes crashing down when he father catches her with a guy and, egged on by his influential friends, takes drastic action to teach his daughter about her role in society. This film was devastating and had my heart racing as I imagined what would come next – but it is also a gripping and eye-opening story that will garner empathy and promote discussion.
Under the Tree (Iceland)
The preview for this film showed a darkly humours story about a neighbourhood that spirals out of control when a dispute arises because of the overhanging branches of a giant tree. Security cameras are installed, pets go missing, property is damaged – bad behaviour runs rampant in the otherwise bourgeois surroundings as the fight escalates. Grim and hilarious, this promises to be a rollicking, gasp-worthy film that won’t soon be forgotten.
A gripping, obsessive, visceral film following in the path of Black Swan, this stylish and suspenseful drama explores the ways Darling’s life is altered when an injury forces her off the production of Giselle. Her role falls to a novice understudy, but Darling can’t let go and takes it upon herself to train the understudy, despite the negative impact it has on both the production and her marriage.
An ominous and powerful thriller about a lonely woman raised in rural Norway by her religious and domineering mother, who discovers she has supernatural powers. While at university, a seizure leads Thelma to develop a relationship with fellow student Anja, but as her feelings grow so too does a dark and uncontrollable power that Thelma’s parents have long feared.
A Horrible Woman (Denmark)
This Danish box-office hit stars Amanda Collin as the controlling and manipulative Marie, in a twisted comedy filled that will immediately have you questioning if there’s more to Marie than her funny and intelligent persona. Exploring a dysfunctional relationship from the point of view of the boyfriend, you’ll be questioning whether Marie really is the horrible woman Rasmus makes her out to be, or if it’s his own weak-will that is causing this relationship to become a nightmare?
*I was invited to the 2018 Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival media launch