Miia Tervo’s debut film Aurora produced by Dionysos Film, is one of 10 films competing for the Dragon Award-Best Nordic Film and inaugural Best Acting Award and has already attracted attention at various industry events, including at the recent Baltic Event where it won the Baltic View Award for Best Pitch.

Set in Finnish Lapland, the romantic comedy tells of a strong bond that develops between an Iranian asylum seeker and a party animal with commitment issues. “Miia Tervo is a very promising new Finnish director who made a fresh film, filled with energy. Aurora is a great opening film with humour and food for thought,” told Göteborg artistic director Jonas Holmberg to nordicfilmandtvnews.com.

Holmberg stresses the wide range of films vying for the SEK 1 million Dragon Award, from the mainstream-oriented Queen of Hearts by Denmark’s May El-Toukhy and Sonja-the White Swan by Norway’s Anne Sewitsky, to the more experimental Swedish films Lucky One by Mia Engberg (Belleville Baby) and Season by John Skoog which ‘combines filmmaking as an art form and storytelling”. The Plattform Production Season based on the director’s own life stories of growing up in a small village in Skåne, won a Special Mention from the Eurimages Lab Award at the last New Nordic Films in Haugesund.

The jury of the Nordic Film Competition comprising director Adina Pintilie (Romania), Journalist Nick James (Sight & Sound), director Dominga Sotomayor (Chile), director Joyti Mistry (South Africa) and author Hanne-Vibeke Holst (Denmark) will also be responsible for selecting the first Dragon Award for Best Acting. “We wanted to highlight the acting category in a new way and we’re proud to be one of the few film festivals in the world awarding a gender-neutral acting award,” noted Holmberg.

Gender equality will also be promoted through the Eurimages Audentia Award, to be handed out for the first time in Göteborg after Istanbul (2016), Locarno (2017) and Toronto (2018). Ten international films by women directors will vie for the €30,000 Audentia prize, to be selected by a jury comprising director Mark Cousins (UK), director Iram Haq (Norway), and former Swedish Film Institute film commissioner Kristina Börjeson.

The Nordic Documentary section has eight titles competing for the SEK 250,000 prize such as the world premieres of the Swedish film Mating by Lina Mannheimer, “exploring love in the digital world in a very interesting way” for Holmberg, the Danish film Patrimonium by Swedish director Carl Olsson, “a stylish film about Danish nobility and their lives under modern capitalism”, and Gods of Molenbeek by Finland’s Reetta Huhtanen,” a beautiful and fascinating portrait of kids living in Brussels’ infamous Islamist district”.

Nordic comedy will be among Göteborg’s main focal points, with nine feature length films, such as Tuva Novotny’s Britt-Marie was Here starring Pernilla August. “There’s been much talk about Nordic crime, but Nordic comedy is also very popular worldwide with films such as The 100 Year-Old Man who Climbed the Window and Disappeared, A Man Called Ove and Nordic comedies have picked up four out of the last six EFA awards for Best European Comedy Film,” stressed Holmberg.

The second main theme ‘Apocalypse’ will be explored through screenings of films such as Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja’s Aniara (also competing for Best Dragon Award) and a masterclass with US writer and climate expert Roy Scranton.

Star names in attendance include Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, recipient of the 2019 Nordic Honorary Dragon Award, as well as Bille August, Thomas Vinterberg, Julie Bertucelli, Dominga Sotomayor and Joachim Trier.

The third Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize rewarding the best writing of a Nordic TV drama will be handed out on January 30 during Göteborg’s industry event Nordic TV Drama Vision. The two first episodes of this year’s six nominated TV dramas will screen at the festival. Holmberg sees the award as a “unique opportunity to address the high quality of TV drama and audience crave for long form storytelling, high on the agenda of many leading film festivals and to celebrate the high quality of Nordic screenwriting.”

The Göteborg Film Festival will close with the world premiere of the Swedish film Swoon by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein.

Full list of main competition sections:

Nordic Competition

  • Aurora, dir: Miia Tervo (Finland)
  • Aniara, dir: Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja (Sweden)
  • Blind Spot, dir: Tuva Nuvotny (Norway)
  • Koko-di Koko-da, dir: Johannes Nyholm (Sweden/Denmark)
  • Harajaku, dir: Eirik Svensson (Norway)
  • Lucky One, dir: Mia Engberg (Sweden)
  • Season, dir: John Skoog (Sweden)
  • Queen of Hearts, dir: May El-Toukhy (Denmark) 
  • Sons of Denmark, dir: Ulaa Salim (Denmark)
  • Sonja – The White Swan, dir: Anne Sewitsky (Norway)

Ingmar Bergman Competition

  • Guerilla, dir: György Mór Kárpáti (Hungary)
  • A Family Submerged, dir: Maria Alché, (Brazil/Norway/Germany)
  • Fig Tree, dir: Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian, (Israel/Germany/France/Ethiopia)
  • Second Life, dir: Park Young-ju, (South Corea)
  • Winter After Winter, dir: Jian Ting, (China)
  • Siblings of the Cape, dir: Shinzo Katayama, (Japan)
  • Coureur, dir: Kenneth Mercken, (Belgium)
  • Aren’t You Happy?, dir: Susanne Heinrich, (Germany)

International Competition

  • Petra, dir: Jaime Rosales (Spain),
  • Sorry Angel, dir: Christophe Honoré (France)
  • Leto, dir: Kirill Serebrennikov (Russia/France)
  • Joy, dir: Sudabeh Mortezai (Austria)
  • The Harvesters, dir: Etienne Kallos (South Africa/France/Greece)
  • Rafiki, dir: Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya/South Africa/France)
  • Our Struggles, dir: Guillaume Senez (Belgium/France)
  • Too Late to Die Young, dir: Dominga Sotomayor(Chile/Brazil/Argentina)
  • Rojo, dir: Benjamin Naishtat (Argentina/Belgium/Germany)
  • A Land Imagined, dir: Siew Hua Yeo (Singapore/France/The Netherlands)
  • The Man Who Surprised Everyone, dir: Natasha Merkulova and Alexey Chupov (Russia/Estonia/France)
  • Maya, dir: Mia Hansen-Løve (France), 
  • Angelo, dir: Markus Scheinzer (Austria/Luxembourg), 
  • Giant Little Ones, dir: Keith Behrman (Canada) 
  • The River, dir: Emir Baigazin (Kazakhstan/Poland/Norway), 
  • In Fabric, dir: Peter Strickland (United Kingdom), 
  • Claire Darling, dir: Julie Bertucelli (France), 
  • Real Love, dir: Claire Burger (France/Belgium), 
  • Golden Youth, dir: Eva Ionesco (France/Belgium), 
  • Fireflies, dir: Bani Khoshnoudi (Mexico/USA/Greece). 

Audentia Award

  • Crystal Swan, dir: Darya V. Zhuk (Belarus/USA/Germany/Russia)
  • Joy, dir: Sudabeh Mortezai (Austria)
  • Blind Spot, dir: Tuva Novotny (Norway)
  • Endzeit – Ever After, dir: Carolina Hellsgård (Germany)
  • Real Love, dir: Claire Burger (France/Belgium)
  • Aurora, dir: Miia Tervo (Finland)
  • Queen of Hearts, dir: May El-Toukhy (Denmark)
  • Golden Youth, dir: Eva Ionesco (France/Belgium)
  • Out of Tune, dir: Frederikke Aspöck (Denmark)
  • Lucky One, dir: Mia Engberg (Sweden)

Nordic Documentary Competition

  • Patrimonium, dir: Carl Olsson (Denmark)
  • Hamada, dir: Eloy Domínguez Serén (Sweden/Norway/Denmark)
  • Privacy of Wounds, dir: Dalia Kury (Norway)
  • Transnistra, dir: Anna Eborn (Sweden/Denmark/Belgium)
  • Gods of Molenbeek, dir: Reetta Huhtanen (Finland)
  • Little Moscow, dir: Grímur Hákonarson (Iceland)
  • Mating, dir: Lina Mannheimer (Sweden)
  • Cold Case Hammarskjöld, dir: Mads Brügger (Denmark/Norway/Sweden)

Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize-Best Screenplay in a Nordic TV Drama 

  • The New Nurses (Sygeplejeskolen) - Denmark, 2018
    Nominated writers: Claudia Boderke, Lars Mering
  • All the Sins (Kaikki synnit) - Finland 2019
    Nominated writers: Merja Aakko, Mika Ronkainen
  • The Flatey Enigma (Flateyjargátan) Iceland 2018
    Nominated writer: Margrét Örnólfsdóttir     
  • Kielerstreet (Kielergata) - Norway 2018
    Nominated writers: Stig Frode Henriksen, Jesper Sundnes, Patrik Syversen
  • State of Happiness (Lykkeland) - Norway 2018
    Nominated writer: Mette M. Bølstad
  • The Inner Circle (Den inre cirkeln) Sweden 2019
    Nominated writer: Håkan Lindhé