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The Göteborg Film Festival, No 29!

The Göteborg Film Festival, now in its 29th year will be held 26th January to 4th of February, becoming the Nordic film branch headquarters for ten days. The festival head is the esteemed film critic Jannike Åhlund who has been active for nearly three decades on the Swedish film scene and a member of the Un Certain Regard jury at Cannes 2003. The festival is both a public forum as well as a branch meeting place with 450 features, shorts, and documentaries from 60 countries.

George Clooney’s Good Night and Good Luck will open the festival, a film on US broadcaster Edward Murrow who stood up to senator Joe McCarthy and his attempts to control the airwaves during the 50’s. The film was acclaimed by Italian journalists at Venice this summer, taking home a screenwriter’s award. In the "World Cinema" section at Gothenburg, Sabina Guzzanti’s Viva Zapetero (2005) will also be screened, an Italian TV personality who stood up to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and got booted from the airwaves. Her film is a humorous chronicle of the event with interviews with celebrities such as the Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo.

The main festival competitive section is the Nordic Competition with eight new films. There is a FIPRESCI prize and Swedish Church prize. This year for the first time, the "Mai Zetterling grant" of 200,000 SEK will be awarded to a filmmaker with artistic vision in short or documentary film. There is also a Lars Molin prize of 10,000 for a good story in the spirit of the late Swedish dramatist. The Göteborg public prize of 50,000 SEK will be awarded to the most popular film. The Swedish Film Institute and Swedish TV will also award 200,000 to the best debut short (novell) film.

Honorary president Ingmar Bergman has selected six films for screening,an annual highlight. This year films by the great silent Swedish directors Victor Sjöström and Maurice Stiller, and some "Kapten Grogg" classics. Debut films by young filmmakers, midnight movies, and international critic’s week are other venues. Several Golden Globe nominees and winners will also be on hand such as Steven Spielberg's Munich, Walk the Line, and Transamerica. Additionally, there will be Golden Beetle nominees, the Swedish equivalent to the Academy Awards - including Sweden's contribution to the best foreign film category of the Oscars to be announced early this spring--Zozo, by Josef Fares, who will be also on hand at the Gothenburg fest.

This year’s themes range from gender benders to Glasnost – a celebration of 20 years of Soviet film from the Goskino film company. Canadian films are also in focus, as are music themes and “working class heroes”. There will also be a tribute to the Czech animation legend Jan Švankmajer. In the "Nordic Light" section the opening film will be Smiling in a Warzone by Simone Aaberg Kærn and Magnus Bejmar (Denmark 2005) about a flying lesson for a young girl in Kabul in US airspace.

A special section of the festival is dedicated to films with new visions, where The Hamster Cage will be the opening film directed by Larry Kent, an acclaimed representative of Canadian independent cinema. Kent has also been invited to give a “Master Class” at the festival.

Add to the films- an excellent array of seminars.
- The Swedish Film Critic’s Association has been asked to appraise 84 new Swedish films for their artistic efforts, the results to be announced at a special seminar.
- Discussion of Pasquale Scimeca’s (Italy 2005) The Passion of Joshua the Jew , a film about the exile of Jews from Spain during the 16th century and Joshua and his family's exodus to Italy, included in the Venice "auteur days".
- Attornies from Harvard and Gothenburg will discuss how downloading movies from the Internet affects the film industry.
- Feminist film perspectives, and films that conform to the Swedish ""Doris manifesto" , where the script and original music must be written by women, there must be one lead female role, and artistic and financial functions managed by women. The equality debate for funding the films of women as well as men in Sweden was raised at last year's Gothenburg festival and continues!
- The depicition of hate crimes against homosexuals in cinema with an upcoming film by Swedish director Suzanne Edwards that is sure to wake debate.
- Public acess to film archives
- The precedence of the Swedish working class movement as producer of films.
- Meeting with the new counselors at the Swedish Film Institute who award financing packages for new Swedish films.
- The renowned Danish director and scriptwriter Per Fly ‘s “Master Class” on his exploration of the class structure of the welfare society of Denmark. His trilogy consists of Manslaughter (2005 a view of the middle class, The Bench (2000) an expose of the working class, and Inheritance (2004) an insight of the upper class.
- Bingjian Zhang has made the first horror-suspense feature in mainland China- Suffocation (2004) where horror films are actually forbidden. Zhang worked around the restrictions to bring forth a mystery about a man who supposedly has murdered his wife and will reveal in a special seminar reveals how he made his film to satisfy the authorities.
- Documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto (UK) explores the situation of women in the world today in Iran, Kenya, Cameroon and Japan. She will be honoured with a special retrospective and give a “Master Class”.
- Norwegian filmmaker Bent Hammer who made Kitchen Stories will give a “Script Factory Master Class”.

Nordic Competition 2006
A Little Trip to Heaven, Baltasar Kormákur. Iceland 2005
Beowulf & Grendel, Sturla Gunnarsson. Iceland/Canada/Great Britain 2005.
Wellkåmm To Verona, Suzanne Osten. Sweden/Norway/Denmark 2006.
Dark Horse, Dagur Kári. Denmark/Iceland 2005.
We Shall Overcome,Nils Arden Oplev. Denmark 2005
Om Gud Vill ,Amir Chamdin. Sweden 2006
Matti – Hell Is For Heroes, Aleksi Mäkelä. Finland 2005
Izzat Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen. Norge 2005.

Moira Sullivan: Nordic Correspondent, Swedish Film Critic's Association

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