This year, the Nordic & Baltic Oscar Contenders series at Scandinavia House is going virtual! In coordination with Scandinavian Film Festival L.A. with BalticFilmExpo@SFFLA, Scandinavia House is pleased to offer virtual screenings of films chosen by the Nordic & Baltic countries to compete for the Oscar nomination for the Best International Feature Film, available to viewers across the U.S. on the weekends of January 7 and 14.
Feature films currently scheduled for the weekend of January 7 are Agnes Joy (Iceland, 2019; dir. Silja Hauksdóttir); Another Round/Druk (Denmark, 2020; dir. Thomas Vinterberg); Blizzard of Souls /Dvēseļu putenis (Latvia, 2019; dir. Dzintars Dreibergs); and The Last Ones /Viimased (Estonia/Finland, 2020; dir. Veiko Õunpuu). Also screening is the short film My Dear Corpses/Mu kallid laibad (Estonia, 2020; dir. German Golub), submitted for the Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action), which will screen alongside The Last Ones.
Festival films will be available to ticket holders all over the U.S. Each session is limited to 300 tickets in an effort to preserve the intimate and communal experience. The sessions will take place over four days (Thursday — Sunday), and all films from the session will be available for viewing on a virtual cinema screening platform throughout this period.
Festival sessions will be accompanied by virtual filmmaker Q&As, as well as short films; check back to this page for more information about further programming.
The festival will continue on the weekend of January 14 with films including Charter (Sweden, 2020; dir. Amanda Kernell); Hope (Norway, 2020; dir. Maria Sødahl); Nova Lituania (Lithuania, 2019; dir. Karolis Kaupinis); and Tove (Finland, 2020; dir. Zaire Bergroth). Click here to read more about Session 2.
Support for The Last Ones has been provided by the Estonian Ministry of Culture.
Weekend Session One
Trapped in a job she hates and a marriage that’s slowly dying, Rannveig’s burnout on her mundane suburban life is complicated by fights with her rebellious daughter Agnes, along with the impending likelihood that Agnes will soon grow up and leave her behind. For Agnes, making her own way in the world means finding a way to escape the tension at home, and experiencing freedom for herself. When a handsome new neighbor, Hreinn, shows up on their doorstep, both mother and daughter have an exciting new distraction from their issues. But when he begins to charm them both and develop different attachments to each, Rannveig and Agnes must navigate a whole new set of challenges.
“Simple and plain, but yet so overwhelmingly vast and deep that one is without words… Amazing.”—Fréttablaðið
Four friends, all teachers at various stages of middle age, are stuck in a rut. Unable to share their passions either at school or at home, they embark on an audacious experiment from an obscure philosopher: to see if a constant level of alcohol in their blood will help them find greater freedom and happiness. At first they each find a new-found zest, but as the gang pushes their experiment further, issues that have been simmering for years come to a head and the men are faced with a choice: reckon with their behavior or continue on the same course.
Underscored by delicate and affecting camerawork, director Thomas Vinterberg’s spry script, co-written with regular collaborator Tobias Lindholm, uses this bold premise to explore the euphoria and pain of an unbridled life. Playing a once brilliant but now world-weary shell of a man, the ever surprising Mads Mikkelsen delivers a fierce and touching performance.
“Thomas Vinterberg’s absorbing dark comedy turns into a lively and fascinating referendum on booze, with Mads Mikkelsen’s fierce and unsettling performance vibrating at its center.”—IndieWire; “Thomas Vinterberg has made a truly wonderful movie about trying to come to grips with life, anchored by terrific performances from Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, and Lars Ranthe. It’s funny, and gutting, and great.”—Vox; “One of the director’s most absorbing works”—The New Yorker
After witnessing the death of his mother at the hands of invading Germans, 16-year-old Artūrs, together with his father, decides to enlist in the national Latvian Riflemen battalions of the Imperial Russian army, hoping for revenge and glory. Though he is underage, Artūrs goes on with his father and brother to fight in World War I, where the thrill of training is soon followed by reality, as the shells burst around them and their lives are constantly in jeopardy. Adapted from the book by Aleksandrs Grins, which was banned in the U.S.S.R., the story was based on Grins’ own war experiences in a Latvian battalion, and has been the biggest box office success in Latvia in the past 30 years. Blizzard of Souls pays stark witness to the horrors and brutality of the First World War, as seen through the eyes of an innocent 17-year-old farm-boy turned soldier.
“Atmospheric cinematography…A more realistic 1917″—The Hollywood Reporter
A Nordic western set in the untamed Lapland tundra, The Last Ones follows young miner Rupi, who hopes to scrape together enough money escape the suffocating dust of his village. But when work comes to a halt after Rupi’s reindeer herder father refuses to sell his land — and when the manipulative mine owner sets aims on the wife of Rupi’s friend, whom Rupi is also secretly in love with — life in the mining village becomes more dangerous day by day, forcing him to examine where and to whom he belongs. Is it the tundra of his forefathers, or the cold terrain of personal gain? With Veiko Õunpuu’s characteristic crispness, The Last Ones explores the messiness of human nature and fate.
“Vividly conveys a sense of place and of a faltering way of life…a naturalistic account of the hard-partying, hard-working mining community”—ScreenDaily
My Dear Corpses/Mu kallid laibad (Estonia, 2020; dir. German Golub). 34 min. In Estonian and Russian with English subtitles.
Screening with The Last Ones
Unexpectedly evicted from his house, Erki faces a rather difficult task to take care of his lonely mother: becoming a corpse carrier. But the situation is about to get a whole lot worse, as Erki meets a new colleague who sees the job as just another day in the field. Made by Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School students, My Dear Corpses was a gold medal winner at the Student Academy Awards.