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Göteborg Film Festival wraps

Göteborg Film Festival

January 23 -- February 2, 2004

This year's Göteborg Film Festival kicked off on January 23 in the midst of a panorama of 500 films. The Göteborg fest, whose honorary president is Ingmar Bergman, is noted for its excellent selection of world cinema. Festival sections receive titles such as Iranian Images, Little Italy, Cuba Libre, Made in Argentina, Real Brazil, French Connection, Korean Highlights, Made in Spanish, Asian Hots, German Stories, USA documentaries and Critic's week. All films are invited to the festival by the selection committee who attends European film festivals such as Cannes, Venice and Berlin. The selection this year included Fog of War, Errol Morris (USA 2003); Last Life in the Universe , Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Thailand 2003); The Blonds, Los Rubious (Argentina 2003); Bus 174 , José Padhila (Brazil 2003); Strayed, André Téchniné (France 2003); At Five in the Afternoon, Samira Makhmalbaf and Joy of Madness, Hana Makhmalbaf (Iran 2003); Mansion by the Lake, Lester James Peries (Sri Lanka 2003); The Five Obstructions, Lars Von Trier, Jorgen Leth (Denmark 2003); and Festival Express Bob Smeaton (USA 2003).

Encounters with World Cinema directors included a face to face with Manish Jhâs from India who was on hand to discuss her film A Nation Without Women on female infanticide in rural India, awarded at Venice last summer. The Return by Andrej Zvjagintsev ( Russia 2003) which won the Palme 'Or at Cannes was the closing film. Yoav Shamir's moving documentary Checkpoint was also screened, recipient of the Jori Ivens Award at International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam in 2003 on encounters between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers at checkpoints in on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. From Cannes came Alexander Sokurov's homoerotic tale entitled Father and Son (Russia 2003) presented in the "Family Ties" section of the festival.

Med Kameran som Tröst, del 2 (With Camera as Consolement) by Carl Johan De Geer (Sweden 2004), won the Nordic competition prize - a film about De Geer's traumatic childhood and reflections on the "Stockholm Syndrome" ( named after Swedish bank employees held hostage in the 70's who sympathized with their captors), memory and aging. Eight features competed in the festival Nordic competition for a prize of SEK 200,000--half for the director, and half to promote the film at the Cannes festival in May. Eight short films also competed for the "Bratek's Startsladd" award of SEK450, 000 which went to Niklas Rådström's Eiffeltornet (Eiffel Tower).

The Kodak Nordic Vision Award of SEK 50,000 was awarded for best cinematography to Leif Benjour's, Fyra nyanser av brunt (Four Nuances of Brown). The Canal+ Award of SEK 25,000 went to Teresa Fabik forHip Hip Hora!

The jury was composed of Monika Tunbäck Hanson, Anders Refn (editor for Lars Von Trier), Icelandic director Steinunn Sigurdardottir, Norwegian director Nina Grunfeld, Finnish director Johanna Vuoksensamma, and Susanne Glansborg, Canal +. FIPRESCI presented a Nordic Award to the Finnish director J P Siili for Young Gods .

This year's "Greta" (named for Greta Garbo) was awarded to the best Swedish film of 2003 by the Swedish Critic's Association - Björn Runge's Om jag vänder mig om (Daybreak).

The Göteborg festival is the meeting place of Swedish film professionals each year. The "Nordic Event" held January 29- February 1 is especially designed to strengthen the position of Nordic films between the Rotterdam and Berlin markets with exclusive screenings of new Nordic films.

Other special events included master classes by Two screenwriters in script writing. Christoffer Boe, whose first feature Reconstruction won the Camera d'Or at Cannes in May and was honored as the European Discovery of the Year at the 2003 European Film Awards - and the respected British director Roger Michell (The Mother).

Festival director Jannike Åhlund was asked if a festival with 80% of the films made by men should have a system of affirmative action to get more work screened by women. She replied that she is "no more interested in creating a men's festival than a women's festival" and wondered how that would work.

A panel entitled "Directing Change? Towards A Female Challenge" sought to address just that question. There is also the question of having the selection committee attend women's film markets such as the largest showcase of women's film in Europe: Créteil International Women's Film Festival held every spring, and now in its 27th year - Festival Films de Femmes outside Paris. Only two women have ever been nominated for an Oscar: Jane Campion and Lina Wertmüller and only Campion has won the Palme d'Or (with special screenings at Créteil). "Directing Change" is a project initiated by "Women in Film and Television" and United International Pictures to raise the numbers of women working in features in the UK. Jane Cussons from WIFT and Nuala O'Halloran, from UIP guested the Göteborg festival to discuss the project. Marita Ulvskog, Swedish Minister of Culture, and representatives from the Swedish film industry also took part in the panel to see if this is something for Sweden, declared by the UN to be the most gender equal country in the world.

Moira Sullivan, Nordic Correspondent

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