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Closing Gala at the 29th Göteborg Film Festival

At a special gala ceremony at the Museum of World Culture, the Göteborg Film Festival Nordic Film Award went to the director Dagur Kári for Dark Horse (Voksne Mennesker), which, “with a young careless rebel in focus, with insight and humour unites fragments from an alienated society into an artistically challenging unity”. The award consists of 150 000 SEK and the Filmdraken (Film dragon)statuette.

"To be nominated for an award like this is like having a race horse", expressed a happy Dagur Kári, who for the second time received the Nordic Film award in Göteborg. "Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, but of course the nomination helps sell the film. And when you win it is fantastic!"

Dark Horse shot in black and white centers on the experiences of a graffiti artist in Copenhagen who falls in love with the same woman as his best friend. Kári’s previous win was the esteemed cult classic Noi the Albino (2003) about a high school drop out who lives in a lonely village in Iceland and dreams of running away with the girl from the gas station.

The Nordic Jury consisted of Monika Tunbäck-Hanson (chairman, Sweden), Sirin Eide (Norway), Hanna Maylett (Finland), Helga Brekkan (Iceland) and Kirsten Dalgaard (Denmark).

The same jury also chose the winner of the Kodak Nordic Vision Award. This year the award for best photo went to Crille Forsberg for God Willing (Om Gud vill) – “a film, which through its magic black and white pictures paints a charming story of love”.

Juan who has recently moved to Sweden works in a hamburger stand. One night he meets Julie who later learns the hard way that his girlfriend will soon be joining him. With music by Nina Persson (The Cardigans).

The winner of Bratek’s Startsladd 2006 went to Never Like the First Time (Aldrig som första gången) by Jonas Odell - four documents on sexual awakening revealed through an animation collage. The award consists of film equipment worth a total of 400 000 SEK and 100 000 SEK in cash from the Swedish Film Institute. Fourteen technical companies from the organisation Bratek and the Swedish Film Institute supports this award. Jonas Odell also won the Audience’s Choise Award for best short film.

The Church of Sweden Film Award was awarded to the Danish film We Shall Overcome (Drømmen) directed by Niels Arden Oplev. The jury consisted of Maaret Koskinen (Sweden), Árni Svanur Daníelsson (Iceland) and Lena Sjöstrand (Sweden). Of the film they wrote: “A boy is confronted with a stifling set of values in school and those represented by adults but sticks to his beliefs and his truth against all odds. Without employing simple identification as a dramatic tool, the film raises questions concerning violence and human dignity, about doubt and trust. In this multilayered story about a child, navigating between oppression, betrayal and a yearning for justice, man is reflected in all his insignificance – and greatness.” The film is about a young boy whose idol is Martin Luther King, and who is tormented and abused by the school rector.

The FIPRESCI Award, the international film critics award, went to the Icelandic film A Little Trip to Heaven by Baltasar Kormákur. The jury consisted of Bojidar Manov (Novinar Daily, Bulgaria), Michel Euvrard (Séquences, Canada) and Eero Tammi (Filmihullu, Finland).Forest Whitaker stars as an insurance agent who investigates a couple about to inherit a million dollars. The film is set in Minnesota but filmed in Iceland. As festival director Jannike Åhlund puts it "if Lars Von Trier can film Dogville set in the US south in Denmark, why not Minnesota in Iceland".

Lena Einhorn not only took home the most prestigious award of Swedish film this year, the Guldbagge best film and script for Nina’s Journey, she also won a newly established award at the Göteborg Film Festival which ends February 6th – the first Mai Zetterling Award named for one of Sweden’s most artistic directors. Zetterling was an actress who starred in Torment(1944) (directed by Alf Sjöberg, script by debutant Ingmar Bergman!) went to London and Hollywood in the 50’s and returned to Sweden in the 1960’s to direct films including Loving Couples, which debuted at Cannes as a Golden Palm nominee in 1965 and Night Games, which debuted as a Golden Lion nominee at Venice in 1966. Zetterling passed away in 1994 and helped to found the Swedish Women’s Film Association which at present has evolved into a Swedish chapter of WIFT - Women in Film and Television.

This year's festival was attended by several invited directors who gave Master Classes: the veteran Canadian independent director Larry Kent who brought with him The Hamster Cage; the British documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto who focuses on the conditions of women around the world including her latest doc on women in South Africa - Sisters In Law; the Canadian director Jean Marc Valée whose film C.R.A.Z.Y debuted at the Venice auteur section, a coming out story about a young man in Quebec in the 1960's; Chinese director Bingjian Zhang whose film Suffocation, starring Ge You is the first psychological thriller made in China; Per Fly, the Danish director who has made a trilogy on class in Denmark - The Bench, Inheritance and his latest Manslaughter, and Bent Hamer whose Kitchen Stories won the best Norwegian film of 2003.

Highlights of the festival included the Nordic Event, a market of 10 works in progress and 20 new features from the Nordic area. The event which was held Feb 3-5 gives distributors, buyers and spectators the opportunity to see the very best and latest of Nordic cinema.Not only was the work of auteur directors featured at the Göteborg fest but over 200 new Swedish films, many by debutants. The festival serves as a meeting place for directors, actors, critics, distributors, buyers and spectators – all impacted by innovative seminars on the themes this festival’s films explore. Special focus on films from Canada, Glasnost - a Soviet Union retrospective, gender benders, working class heroes, music themes and an international critics week were featured at the 29th edition of the Göteborg festival. Also presented at the festival is Sweden's first cinema manifesto, inspired by the Danish "dogma" concept - Doris Film, which sponsors a script competition since 2004 in order to structurally influence the kinds of roles that are written about women in Sweden, and to see to it that women are in key technical and decision making positions.

Moira Sullivan, Swedish Film Critics Association, FIPRESCI

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