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Northern Lights Film Festival 2005 opens with ambitions

Now into its third year and firmly established as one of the highlights in the North East’s cultural calendar – this year’s Northern Lights Film Festival (17-24 November) – promises to be bigger and better than ever before with over 90 screenings from 12 Northern European countries in various locations throughout the North East.

Northern Lights Film Festival celebrates the North East’s historical links with Northern Europe and the Baltic countries and gives audiences the opportunity to experience the finest cinematic storytelling from the region.

The Festival mixes regional and national premieres of new features with major retrospectives, international guests, animation, shorts, education workshops, a rural mobile cinema, documentaries, and free screenings, with challenging work from artist film and video. PLUS both industry professionals and amateur movie-makers are catered for with the return of the Northern Lights Film Festival Summit (18 and 19 November) for industry delegates, and the launch of the Northern Stars Film Academy aimed at 14-18 year-old budding Tarantinos!

Explains Festival Manager Stéphanie Little: “ Northern Lights Film Festival is the UK’s only film festival that brings together all sections of film from education and production to exhibition. It is estimated that the Festival this year will engage over half a million people with an enhanced screening programme, and our far-reaching education events.”

Stellan Skarsgard Signs Up as Patron of the Festival

NLFF is delighted this year to have been given a true Scandinavian seal of approval by Sweden’s most famous acting son, Stellan Skarsgard, who has agreed to become Patron of the Festival. Star of amongst others Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark, Good Will Hunting, King Arthur and The Hunt for Red October, Stellan has just finished filming Pirates of the Caribbean 2.

He says: “When I was approached to become Patron of the Northern Lights Film Festival I was hugely flattered. I think what this festival is doing is totally unique in the UK in terms of bringing together all sections of film from education and exhibition to production and even an industry summit”.

He continues: “The fact that this festival gives audiences the opportunity to see films that otherwise would only be screened in say, London or Edinburgh is really exciting. I look forward to the special relationship that I hope to build with Northern Lights – and to seeing some of the fantastic new work from award winning directors, actors, writers and producers.”

Highlights of the 2005 Festival:

* Retrospective: Greta Garbo – to honour the 100th anniversary of the birth of the enigmatic Swedish screenstar, whose fans include Madonna and Julie Burchill, a season comprising Mata Hari, Anna Karenina and Queen Christina, as well as earlier lesser known silent films will be screened with live musical accompaniment by renowned Swedish musician and composer Matti Bye who has collaborated with Ingmar Bergman and Robert LaPage.

* Focus on: Hans Christian Andersen - To mark the anniversary of 200 years since the birth of Danish children’s storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, the NLFF will be screening some of his best-loved short films including Thumbelina, Little Match Girl, plus the Powell/Pressburger feature The Red Shoes.

* Regional Premiere of Dark Horse – Made by the multi award winning director Dagur Kari (Noi Albinoi) Dark Horse - a black and white comedy-drama about an irresponsible graffiti artist who earns his living painting declarations of love on the walls of Copenhagen.

* New Films – A packed Festival programme includes the following brand new movies: Aftermath - the directorial debut from multi-award winning actress Paprika Steen, which impressed even seasoned critics at the Cannes Film Festival, and which went on to win the San Sebastian International Film Festival 2004 Audience Award; Screaming Masterpiece – documentary feature on Iceland’s thriving music scene featuring interviews and live concert footage of Bjork, Damon Albarn and Sigur Ros amongst others; The 3 Rooms of Melancholia a Finnish/German/Swedish/ Danish co-production made in Russian and directed by Pirjo Honkasalo which takes an impressionistic look at the impact of the Chechen War, and which has had the critics reaching for hyperbole! Described by Variety as “one of those rare films that deserves to be called ‘poetic’”, and by French Premiere magazine as “viscerally poetic and stunning in its invention, its beauty and its muffled sadness”; Murk - a gripping new Danish suspense thriller starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas (The Idiots, Brothers); Fourteen Sucks – Directed by four Swedes this coming of age drama is built around a stunning lead performance by 14 year-old newcomer Elin Ahlberg; My Nikifor – winner of the coveted Crystal Globe at this year’s Karlovy Vary Festival, which follows the last eight years in the life of artists Nikifor Krynicki who despite mental and physical disability made in excess of 40,000 paintings on the streets of Southern Poland; A Hole in my Heart – the most recent film from Lukas Moodysson (Together, LIlya-4-Ever) a powerful and shocking drama that’s divided critics but which Total Film described as “ a nihilistic howl of rage”!; Too Much Norway – a kooky and self-effacing documentary which celebrates 100 years of Norwegian independence; The Gourmet Club – a tasty little number from Finland which looks at the strange world of a small and exclusive gourmet club where at each sitting the members must wage money to guess a secret ingredient in the main course; Haru, Island of Solitary – Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomin books spent 25 years on the small island of Klovharu in the Gulf of Finland. This lyrical, and candid documentary has been assembled from Super 8 footage shot by her girlfriend and reveals their intimate summers and love of the land.

* Film Industry Summit - NLFF will host its second industry summit when film industry experts from throughout the UK will converge on Tyneside to attend a series of screenings and networking events. Events will include a live pitch with a prize of £5,000 to the winner, as well as offering an opportunity for the North East’s indigenous film community to meet with some of the most exciting movers and shakers in the industry.

* Mika Taanila Retrospective – new work from Finnish film icon and artist filmmaker Mika Taanila which includes: Futuro – a New Stance for Tomorrow his retro poem to the 1960s UFO-like plastic ski cabins that once covered the Finnish mountains; Thank You For the Music – A Film about Muzak which defends the much maligned background music of shopping centres and lifts; and his most recent short The Future Is Not What it Used To Be a popular winner on the Festival circuit which is the story of leading figure in 60s Finnish Avant-Garde film and music, Erkki Kurenniemi one of the great unsung heroes of the electronic age, PLUS a selection of music videos Taanila has directed in the last ten years.

* Northern Lights Youth Film Academy - Aimed at 14-18 year olds the academy will create the future new stars of the film industry providing access to the best professionals, events and masterclasses and will give the students an opportunity to make their own film, inspired by the stories of Hans Christian Andersen which will be screened during the Gala Opening Night of the Festival.

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