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, 14, and 21.
Films currently scheduled in the program for the weekend of January 7 are Another Round/Druk (Denmark, 2020; dir. Thomas Vinterberg); Agnes Joy (Iceland, 2019; dir. Silja Hauksdóttir); Blizzard of Souls /Dvēseļu putenis (Latvia, 2019; dir. Dzintars Dreibergs); and The Last Ones /Viimased (Estonia/Finland, 2020; dir. Veiko Õunpuu). Films in the program for the weekend of January 14 include Charter (Sweden, 2020; dir. Amanda Kernell); Hope (Norway, 2020; dir. Maria Sødahl); Nova Lituania (Lithuania, 2019; dir. Karolis Kaupinis); and Tove (Finland, 2020; dir. Zaida Bergroth). The festival will conclude on the weekend of January 21-24 with a special screening of My Favorite War.
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. Visit the links above for more info and to purchase tickets. ASF Members will receive an email with their discount code on Tuesday, December 22. To download viewing instructions and an FAQ, please click here. To download viewing instructions and an FAQ, please click here.
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.
Charter (Sweden, 2020; dir. Amanda Kernell). 97 min. In Swedish with English subtitles.
See the trailer
Presented with the Consulate General of Sweden in New York and the Embassy of Sweden in the U.S.
Following a recent and difficult divorce, Alice has been unable to see her children in months, as her ex-husband keeps them separated while awaiting a final custody verdict in Northern Sweden. But when her son calls her one night, distraught and weeping, she returns to the North in an attempt at reconciliation — only to have her hopes dashed on arrival. In a last and desperate move, Alice abducts her children and flies with them to a charter resort in the Canary Islands. In one last attempt, Alice abducts the children, flying with them to a charter resort in the Canary Islands under the guise of a weeklong vacation. And as the clock ticks down on their discovery, she must do what she can to rekindle her children’s love and trust, before losing them completely.
“A gutsy, discomforting look at some imperfect mothering.”—The Hollywood Reporter
Middle-aged couple Anja (Andrea Bræin Hovig) and Tomas (Stellan Skarsgård) have grown independent of one another over their long marriage, working at creative jobs in parallel worlds, with a large blended family of both biological children and stepchildren. But when Anja gets a terminal cancer diagnosis, their modern life breaks down and exposes its neglected love; and alone with her grief and fears, Anja realizes that she needs Tomas’ full help and support, and immediately, to ensure that her children will be able to weather the storm when she is gone. And as they are thrown into a crash course in mutual trust, Anja and Tomas discover each other anew, turning their tragedy into an unexpected love story. Based on the true-life experience of director and screenwriter Maria Sødahl — who returns to cinema after a nine-year hiatus after battling her own terminal cancer diagnosis — Hope is about a couple’s second chance in the midst of crisis, and of finding ways to love life.
“Sødahl… is an artist of quiet, disciplined observance”—Screen International
As the young Lithuanian state celebrates 20 years of independence in 1938, the situation in Europe has become increasingly tense, as a new war looms on the horizon. In response to the growing tensions, geographer Feliksas Gruodis comes up with a novel solution: creating a “backup Lithuania” overseas, a place where the country’s inhabitants could move in case of danger. But in order to make his plan happen, he needs the support of the political elite. Based on the true-life story of Lithuanian geographer Kazys Pastas, Nova Lituania shows the dangers of nationalism when used for political power.
“An elegant, offbeat fiction that is both steeped in pre-war Lithuanian history and starkly relevant to our current moment”—Variety
In 1945 Helsinki, the end of World War II has brought a new sense of artistic and social freedom for aspiring painter Tove Jansson. Modern art, dizzying parties and an open relationship with a married politician have put her at odds with her sculptor father’s strict ideals; and when she meets theater director Vivica Bandler, Tove’s desire for liberty is further put to the test as she finds herself immersed in an all-consuming love that she longs to have reciprocated. Meanwhile, her creative endeavors are taking her in an unexpected direction as a side project based on the tales she once told to frightened children in bomb shelters rapidly takes on a life of its own; inspired by her own life, the exploits of the Moomins soon bring Tove international fame and financial freedom, with a daily comic strip, a stage play, and stories that delight readers around the world. As Tove begins to discover her artistic identity, she must break away from unrequited love in order to be free. A captivating drama, Tove portrays the iconic talent’s creative energy and her turbulent search for identity, desire and freedom.
“Tove beguiles audiences into the world of its characters”—Variety
Njuokčamat/The Tongues (Norway 2019; dir. Marja Bål Nango and Ingir Ane Bål Nango). 15 min. In Sami with English subtitles.
Screening alongside Charter
The edge of the reindeers tongue holds all the lies and shall not be eaten. The one who eats it, will be a liar. When a Sami woman is attacked by a man during a blizzard on the tundra while she is herding reindeer, her sister senses that something is wrong, and sets off in search for her. Wrapped in fear and confusion, both women will unite in their fight for revenge. Winner of Best International Short Film at the Palm Springs International ShortFest, and Best Director at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, Njuokčamat is a strong visual and exploratory film story that deals with the taboo theme of abuse of women in indigenous communities in Northern Norway.
The Kicksled Choir/Sparkekoret (Norway 2020; dir. Torfinn Iversen). 18 min. In Norwegian with English subtitles.
Screening alongside Hope
Ten-year-old Gabriel loves to sing and has one desire: to sing in the local choir, which rides kick-sleds through the snowy landscape of Northern Norway, and is known for their kindness and charity towards the village refugees. But when Gabriel’s father gets into a fight with one of the local refugees, Gabriel’s quest to join The Kicksled Choir becomes challenging. Winner of the 2020 TIFF Junior — Tromsø International Children’s Film Festival Audience Award; the 2020 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival Professional Jury’s Prize for Best Live-Action Short, and other awards.
My Favorite War (Norway/Latvia, 2020; dir. Ilze Burkovska-Jacobsen. 82 min. In English/Latvian/Russian with English subtitles.
Watch the trailer.
An animated documentary submitted to compete for the Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film, My Favorite War tells the director’s personal story of growing up in the Cold War-era USSR. From her early childhood playing at war on her grandfather’s farm, and then being faced with the horror of real war threats at school, Ilze lives in a clash between the Soviet reality and propaganda denying what people are actually experiencing. Moreover, she also finds out how opposing the beliefs are of the people she loves most. An exciting coming-of-age story about finding one’s own identity, truth and loyalty, the film looks at the choices a girl had to make from a very young age, before getting wiser and finding the courage to speak out.