fbpx

Films about children, adults and Nordic reality

26.10.2020

Filmplancher av de nominerade filmerna för Nordiska rådets filmpris 2020på en vägg

A few stats to get us started: over the past five years, the Nordic Council Film Prize has seen 6 films by a female director and 19 films by a male director amongst its nominees. In the preceding five years, the figures were 4 and 21 respectively. Progress in the film industry is still lagging in countries we regard as role models in gender equality.

The prize emphasises the importance of artistic qualities, something which has traditionally favoured dramas doing well also in film festivals. This year is no exception and the nominated films have all been introduced at major international arenas: Cannes, Locarno, Venice, Tokyo and the Sundance Film Festival. The directors represent a new generation of creators: this year’s nominees are their respective directors’ second or third feature film. Indeed, as many as four of them have now been nominated for a second time, but the prize has not yet to go their way.

Public support for film culture is strong in the Nordic countries. The high standards of Nordic film are a trait which is also reflected in this competition year after year. Perhaps we can speculate on the winner anyway: isn’t this part of the fun of these awards after all?

Out of the five nominees, the weakest performances are those from Sweden and Iceland. Directed by Rúnar Rúnarsson, the Icelandic film Echo (Bergmál) differs in its structure to the other nominees and it is made up of disconnected episodes. A cross-section of Icelandic society and mentality on the back of some quite dark humour provided a few insightful spells, but the challenge of its episodic format is the lack of a great story and a patchy unfolding.

Charter by Swedish director Amanda Kernell tells the story of a desperate Alice, fighting for the custody of her children, who she takes on a trip to the Canary Islands unbeknownst to her ex. The film is quite competently made, but it is a fairly typical drama about the pains of parenthood nor does it succeed in elevating its subject matter from an individual to a universal level. In her debut film Sami Blood (Saamelaisveri), Kernell has dealt powerfully with the long-silenced history of the Sámi people and Charter’s small-scale family narrative can’t but feel a minor work in comparison.

The Danish drama Uncle (Onkel) directed by first-time nominee Frelle Petersen could surprise and stand out from the crowd. In this laconic film, Kris’s days are marked by a routine that is split between taking care of her farm and taking care of her elderly uncle. Other people’s attempts to spur the young woman into pursuing her new dreams come to nothing. As the main character, Kris is intentionally alienating and the film narrative finds its premise in the repetition and subtle variation of everyday situations, which is a more familiar device for an art film than for a drama destined for broad appeal. As much as it left me with a feeling of frustration, Uncle still got stuck in my mind and the stubborn Kris slowly began to grow on me. Selfless love and true independence irrespective of others are depicted in the film in an unconventional way.

The Finnish nominee, J-P Valkeapää‘s third feature-length film Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (Koirat eivät käytä housuja) stands out thanks to its eye-catching visuals and bold, contemporary portrayal of sexuality. A widowed father starts to come to terms with his grief during the sadomasochistic sessions of a melancholic dominatrix. Works categorised as so-called genre films (horror, suspense, fantasy, sci-fi) or which exploit their imagery have often failed to win awards: the most recent film falling into this category is probably Lars von Trier’s Antichrist from 2009. However, there is a growing number of skilled genre creators in the Nordic countries and Dogs would be a fresh choice that could also inspire boldness in future juries: the Nordic Council Film Prize doesn’t have to be a drama award.

Yet, I’m betting on Norway’s outstandingly good nominee as the winner, having already scooped more Amanda Awards in its home country than any other work has ever done. Directed by Dag Johan Haugerud, Beware of Children (Barn) is a 2-hour and 37-minute dialogue-driven drama about the aftermath of a fatal school bullying incident, in which clashes are caused by differences in political ideologies. The complex narrative is constructed with extreme precision and without unnecessary dramatisation. The film’s lengthy running time is not used to exhaust the viewer, who is instead drawn in by its well-written dialogue and thoughtfully dosed humour. Even though the film gives space to different perspectives, they are not placed all on the same level: we can choose empathy and respect for every human being.

 

Marjo Pipinen

The author is the curator of the Love & Anarchy Film Festival and specialises in Nordic cinema.

 

Cookie Policy for Nordic Culture Point

What Are Cookies

As is common practice with almost all professional websites this site uses cookies, which are tiny files that are downloaded to your computer, to improve your experience. This page describes what information they gather, how we use it and why we sometimes need to store these cookies. We will also share how you can prevent these cookies from being stored however this may downgrade or ‘break’ certain elements of the sites functionality.

For more general information on cookies see the Wikipedia article on HTTP Cookies. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_cookie)

How We Use Cookies

We use cookies for a variety of reasons detailed below. Unfortunately in most cases there are no industry standard options for disabling cookies without completely disabling the functionality and features they add to this site. It is recommended that you leave on all cookies if you are not sure whether you need them or not in case they are used to provide a service that you use.

The Cookies We Set

In order to provide you with a great experience on this site we provide the functionality to set your preferences for how this site runs when you use it. In order to remember your preferences we need to set cookies so that this information can be called whenever you interact with the page. For example whether the welcome banner is displayed on the main page is affected by cookies.

Third Party Cookies

In some special cases we also use cookies provided by trusted third parties. The following section details which third party cookies you might encounter through this site.

This site uses Google Analytics which is one of the most widespread and trusted analytics solution on the web for helping us to understand how you use the site and ways that we can improve your experience. These cookies may track things such as how long you spend on the site and the pages that you visit so we can continue to produce engaging content.

For more information on Google Analytics cookies, see the official Google Analytics page. (https://www.google.com/analytics/)

We also use social media buttons and/or plugins on this site that allow you to connect with your social network in various ways. For these to work, the specific social media sites will set cookies through our site which may be used to enhance your profile on their site or contribute to the data they hold for various purposes outlined in their respective privacy policies.

Facebook Pixel

The Facebook Pixel receives these types of data:

– Http Headers – Anything present in HTTP headers. HTTP Headers are a standard web protocol sent between any browser request and any server on the internet. HTTP Headers include IP addresses, information about the web browser, page location, document, referrer and person using the website.
– Pixel-specific Data – Includes Pixel ID and the Facebook Cookie.
– Button Click Data – Includes any buttons clicked by site visitors, the labels of those buttons and any pages visited as a result of the button clicks.

 

 

Disabling Cookies

You can prevent the setting of cookies by adjusting the settings on your browser (see your browser Help for how to do this). Be aware that disabling cookies will affect the functionality of this and many other websites that you visit. Disabling cookies will usually result in also disabling certain functionality and features of the this site. Therefore it is recommended that you do not disable cookies.

More Information

Hopefully that has clarified things for you and as was previously mentioned if there is something that you aren’t sure whether you need or not it’s usually safer to leave cookies enabled in case it does interact with one of the features you use on our site.

Please let us know if you have questions or comments. (https://www.nordiskkulturkontakt.org/en/contact-us/)

This Cookies Policy was created with the help of the CookiePolicyGenerator.com