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:: Spotlight :: 2014 Scandinavian Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

The inaugural Scandinavian Film Festival will welcome the luminous Finnish actress Laura Birn as it opens on July 8. Presented by Palace and screening exclusively at Palace Cinema locations, the Scandinavian Film Festival will showcase films from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland including the best drama, crime and comedy.

Rising star Laura Birn appears in festival films Heart of a Lion and August Fools. Her extensive film roles have earned her constant critical praise, and the best actress award at the Jussi Awards 2012 for her extraordinary performance in Purge, which was Finland’s Oscar entry that year. Birn was chosen as one of Europe’s hottest young actors when awarded the prestigious Shooting Star Award at the Berlin Film Festival 2013. Laura will attend Canberra and Sydney opening nights, and participate in Q&A sessions with her film Heart of a Lion in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Festival boasts 21 outstanding films that range from critically acclaimed debuts of risk- taking new talent, through to crowd-pleasing local blockbusters. Palace is proud to present local audiences with a brand new event, created to offer the best from the region. The Festival will open with Swedish blockbuster The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Hundraaringen som klev ut genom fonstret och forsvann), a delightful, colourful comedy of unexpected surprises based on the hugely successful international bestselling novel by Jonas Jonasson which was published in more than 35 countries.

Get into the groove of 60s Sweden, when the Festival hosts a special event screening of Per Fly’s Waltz for Monica (Monica Z). Triumphs and tragedy abound in this biopic based on the life of popular Swedish jazz-singer Monica Zetterlund, played by the enchanting Edda Magnason who sings her own smoky, elegant vocals. People are invited to enjoy a glass of wine courtesy of Cake Wines, Scandinavian cheeses and jazzy entertainment, followed by the film.
Also from Sweden comes Ego, an infectious rom-com with an irresistible cast; Home (Hemma), which won numerous international film festival awards from Germany to Korea, and is an off-beat, tender and humorous perspective of those on the social fringes; Hotell, a cathartic oddball drama about an unconventional therapy group; and Remake, an intimate and honest relationship drama exploring contemporary attitudes and approaches towards love, with an unexpected twist! To top off the Swedish offerings, Easy Money III: Life Deluxe (Snabba cash III: Livet deluxe) (2013) is the final instalment following JW, an economics student who falls into the seductive world of drug running. To celebrate this new instalment, the entire trilogy (none of which have been shown in Australian cinemas) will be screened starting with Sweden's top-grossing film of 2010, Easy Money (Snabba cash) and 2012’s Easy Money II: Hard to Kill (Snabba cash II) all of which star Joel Kinnaman (RoboCop, The Killing).

Denmark brings us Flow (Aekte vare), an arresting debut feature from director Fenar Ahmad which opened Copenhagen’s biggest film festival, 2014 CPHPIX; Someone You Love (En du elsker), a soulful family drama overflowing with expressive rock ‘n’ roll reminiscent of the 60s and Leonard Cohen; adapted from a hugely successful award-winning stage play by Per Olov Enquist, The Hour of the Lynx (I Lossens Time) is a profound exploration of the fragility of faith, the reliability of science, and the redeeming power of love; and last but not least, Mikkel Norgaard demonstrates Danish suspense at its best with The Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret).

From Iceland, box-office smash for Ágúst Guðmundsson, one of Iceland’s most successful and acclaimed directors, comes Spooks and Spirits (Ófeigur gengur aftur), a ghoulish comedy of manners and misunderstandings; meanwhile the rugged, isolated beauty of Iceland is showcased in the powerful family drama Metalhead (Málmhaus).

Finland brings us three strong films with director Taru Mäkelä’s August Fools (Mieletön elokuu), a smart, uplifting comedy set in the context of the Cold War starring festival guest Laura Birn. Birn also takes the lead in Heart of a Lion (Leijonasydän) which skillfully mixes hatred with humour to create a stirring but surprisingly funny portrait of changing hearts and minds. Plus there is one of Finland’s most successful films of all time at the home box-office – 21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage (21 tapaa pilata avioliitto) – a fast and riotous comedy about love and marriage.

From Norway comes Ballet Boys (Ballettguttene) a documentary which follows Lukas Bjørneboe Brændsrød, a teenager who dreams of success in the world of ballet. A complicated tangle of race, love and family is explored in the powerful I Am Yours (Jeg er din) starring Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones); and the thriller Pioneer (Pioner) which is in both Norwegian and English languages stars Australia’s Jonathan LaPaglia and is directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg (Insomnia, Prozac Nation) who has created a thrilling, claustrophobic conspiracy based on true events. With its emphasis on the inky blackness of the deep sea and confined spaces, Pioneer is suspenseful, edgy and full of tension.

For more information and session times visit here

The inaugural Scandinavian Film Festival presented by Palace
CANBERRA July 8-20 Palace Electric
SYDNEY July 9-27 Palace Verona & Palace Norton St
MELBOURNE July 10-27 Palace Cinema Como, Palace Brighton Bay
BRISBANE July 11-20 Palace Centro
ADELAIDE July 23-31 Palace Nova Eastend
PERTH July 24-30 Cinema Paradiso
BYRON BAY July 25-30 Palace Byron Bay

Tickets from $15. Multi-film passes and group bookings also available.

For more information, visit