Danish film seldom acknowledges its roots in Nordic mythology and Hans Christian Andersen, and rarely explores the supernatural. Christian Tafdrup remedies this in his debut feature, Parents, in which a middle-aged couple wake up to find themselves young again. It sounds crazy, silly and far out – but like all good fantasy, it strikes a familiar chord. Bodil Jørgensen and Søren Malling are unforgettable as the rejuvenated couple.
A young girl attempting to escape the challenges of her everyday life embarks upon a universally relatable adventure. Little Wing is the debut feature by director Selma Vilhunen, whose short film Do I Have to take Care of Everything? was Oscar-nominated in 2014. Twelve-year-old Linnea Skog gives a nuanced performance in the lead role, while Paula Vesala radiates female strength in the role of her mother.
Heartstone is a coming-of-age story that takes place one summer in a small fishing village in Iceland. Teenagers Þór and Kristján enjoy the simple outdoor pleasures typical of the light Icelandic summer nights – fishing, camping, meeting girls. The story revolves around a deep, loving friendship – and possible sexual tension – between the two boys.
The director, Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson, has a relaxed, naturalistic style. While the fjords and green vistas of Eastern Iceland provide a stunning backdrop, they don’t overshadow the narrative or its intense focus on the boy’s experiences. Remarkably strong performances by Baldur Einarsson and Blær Hinriksson further emphasise the film’s unusually delicate strength.
Hunting Flies is an unusually well-made low-budget film that makes deft and impeccable use of its limited resources. The characters – a teacher and his pupils – are established subtly and organically, so that the viewer feels like a witness to authentic dialogue and confrontations. Set in a Macedonian village classroom, Izer Aliu’s story sensitively explores how dictatorships rise and fall, in a way that is politically and psychologically relevant on multiple levels.
Sámi Blood is a brave and highly topical film about roots, class and culture that seeks to inspire discussion about a repressed and forgotten part of Swedish history.
Amanda Kernell demonstrates great technical skill, a refined sense of character and a keen eye for detail. Along with cinematographer Sophia Olsson, she captures both magnificent scenery and the main characters’ innermost feelings –the tiny person in the huge world.
The winners of the Nordic Council prizes will be awarded receive their awards on 1 November, during the Session of the Nordic Council in Helsinki.