Monday, 16 July 2012


The Swedish Film Institute and The Melbourne International Film Festival will co-present a special programming strand of Swedish cinema at MIFF 2012 in August, with Melbourne set to welcome four acclaimed feature directors from Sweden for the event.

Facing North: Swedish Cinema in Focus showcases an exciting array of new Swedish films and filmmakers from our Nordic neighbours and includes the retrospective Criminal Record: Swedish Crime Cinema which screens five Swedish crime classics from dierent eras that have taken the crime scene to the screen.

Project Manager at the Swedish Film Institute, Petter Mattsson said of the programme ‘Australia has a special place in the hearts and minds of all Swedes. Not only for the way you embraced ABBA in the 70's and 80's and as a wonderful place to visit but also for the success of As It Is In Heaven a few years ago. We are really happy that MIFF has chosen Sweden as this year's country in focus and look forward to a wonderful festival!’

MIFF Programmer Al Cossar says of the Sweden country focus this year ‘"Sweden continues to go from strength to strength in the stories and storytellers emerging on the world stage from those fascinating northern climes. MIFF is delighted to be presenting to Melbourne audiences a wonderful array of Swedish directors this year - not just in the program, but in-person, too; and we're not just looking forward, but back as well - with our Criminal Record retrospective we investigate anew the underpinnings of that world-dominating Scandi-zeitgeist - the Swedish crime film. So bring on the saunas. Bring on the buffets. Bring on the Bergman (take your pick, we've got Ingmar or Ingrid) - the Swedish are coming!’

FACING NORTH: SWEDISH CINEMA IN FOCUS is a highly acclaimed programme of 16 features and a short film programme, and includes winners from Toronto, Venice, Sundance and Gothenburg International Film Festivals, multiple winners of the Guldbagge Awards (Swedish Oscars) and this year’s Swedish submission to the Oscars®.
Festival guests presenting their films at the festival are:

- A highlight of the festival’s opening weekend is AVALON, with director Axel Petersén attending as a guest of the festival. Variety called Avalon a ‘splendid debut feature’, and it has already collected the FIPRESCI Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival and been selected for both the Berlinale Forum, and as the Opening Night film of the Gothenburg Film Festival, Sweden’s leading international film festival and one of the biggest film events in Europe. Part thriller, part character study, with a nice line in repulsive hilarity, Avalon follows a former 80s party boy preparing to open a nightclub in a Swedish summer resort, where he and his fellow adult teenagers refuse to grow up or leave their hedonistic 80s lifestyles behind…
- Oscar nominated director Patrik Eklund brings to the festival his feature debut FLICKER, a deadpan comedy about phone towers, online dating, the odd tarantula and a militant group of people allergic to electricity. A hotly anticipated film that releases in Sweden this September, Flicker is also set for a US release that is already generating buzz, with Twitch film calling Eklund ‘an absolute genius. His short film work shows a remarkable ability to fuse genuine heart - and often tragedy - with deliciously dry and absurd comedy. He'll get - and deserve - his share of Coen Brothers comparisons but Eklund's voice is entirely his own.’

- Award winning director, journalist and former foreign correspondent in Africa, Latin America, Asia and around Europe, Fredrik Gertten brings to the festival his documentary feature BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!*. A true story about a Swedish filmmaker, a banana corporation, and the price of free speech, the film chronicles Gertten’s fight for his last film Bananas!* (MIFF 2010) which recounts the lawsuit that 12 Nicaraguan plantation workers brought against the fruit giant Dole Food Company. When the film was withdrawn mysteriously from the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Dole Food Company came at him with a lawsuit, Gertten knew he had a fight on his hands, and Big Boys Gone Bananas!* lets us in on that eye-opening battle.

- Director and festival guest Malik Bendjelloul’s first feature documentary, SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN was the winner of both the Audience Award and the Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema – Documentary). In this film about hope, inspiration and the power of music, a Detroit musician whose soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics look set to make him the greatest recording artist of his generation, but he disappears into obscurity amid rumours of a gruesome on-stage suicide. But a bootleg recording finds its way into apartheid South Africa and, over the next two decades, it becomes a phenomenon, completely unbeknownst to him, the artist known as Sixto Rodriguez. Prior to his acclaimed feature debut, Malik Bendjelloul made a number of short documentaries about musical artists including Bjork, Kraftwerk, Sting, Madonna and Elton John. Searching for Sugar Man is from the Oscar and BAFTA winning producer of Man on Wire and Project Nim.
Currently garnering international attention for their performances, Swedish actresses Noomi Rapace (The Millennium Trilogy, Prometheus) and Alicia Vikander (The Royal Affair, the upcoming Anna Karenina) both appear in the programme. Noomi Rapace stars in the powerful drama BEYOND, winner of the International Critics’ Week Award at the Venice Film Festival, Sweden’s submission to the 2012 Oscars® and winner of the 2011 Nordic Council Film Prize, the highest cinematic honour in Scandinavia. PURE, directed by Lisa Langseth, stars Alicia Vikander as a former prostitute determined to enter the closed world of classical music, in her breakthrough performance which Variety hailed as ’riveting’.

Other films include the darkly magical animation for adults METROPIA, one of Sweden’s most expensive and visually impressive animated films ever with voices by Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, Alexander and Stellan Skarsgård and Udo Kier, INVOLUNTARY, HAPPY END, CERTAIN PEOPLE and FALKENBERG FAREWELL.

CRIMINAL RECORD: SWEDISH CRIME CINEMA is the retrospective section of Facing North. Co-curated with Swedish film critic and writer Michael Tapper, it features five Swedish crime classics from dierent eras that have taken the crime scene to the screen.

In the past two years, Swedish crime cinema has grossed a staggering thirteen million dollars at the Australian Box Office from just three films (The Millennium Trilogy), a phenomenal amount for foreign language cinema from a single country. Now undeniably the world leader in the genre of contemporary crime cinema, this special sidebar is a thrilling exploration of Swedish crime cinema from a period spanning more than 70 years and including some of the biggest names, awards and praise in the business.

Expert in the genre, film critic and former editor-in-chief of Film International Michael Tapper has co-curated this programme which features stories from best-selling fiction, controversial real events and includes Ingrid Berman in one of the best roles of her career, providing an insight into what has made the genre the international sensation it is today and revealing why it has been earning international acclaim for many decades.

Films screening are A WOMAN’S FACE (1938) starring Ingrid Bergman, WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS (1950) – arguably one of the best Swedish films of the late 40s/early 50s which also marked a turning point in Swedish representations of crime; THE MAN ON THE ROOF (1976) – this smart and stylish crime novel adaptation was dubbed as ‘ a first-rate thriller with an almost unbearably tense climax’ by The Hollywood Reporter; IL CAPITANO (1991) controversially brought a triple murder tale straight from the newspaper headlines to the screen only three years after the events occurred in 1988 and won three time Oscar® nominated director Jan Troell (Everlasting Moments) the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 1992 Berlinale; and EASY MONEY (2010) is a shocking and sexy morality tale in contemporary Stockholm that had Martin Scorsese ‘deeply impressed by the harsh, elemental style…a film to be reckoned with’.

Patrik Eklund – director of FLICKER
Axel Petersén – director of AVALON
Malik Bendjelloul – director of SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
Fredrik Gertten – director of BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!*

INTERVIEWS - Interviews are available with festival guests and -
Michael Tapper – co-curator of Criminal Record: Swedish Crime Cinema