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Nordic film galore at Les Arcs - 15 at the festival and 5 at the Industry Village

10 DECEMBER 2023

Also a Life / PHOTO: Courtesy Staer Productions H

Next to guest of honour Ruben Östlund, promising debutants Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir, Anders Emblem will be showcased at the coproduciton Village and Ernst de Geer in competition.

As always, Les Arcs Film Festival under the care of artistic director Frederic Boyer and Industry chief Lison Hervé, has selected a wide range of Nordic films across its programme. And to celebrate its 15th anniversary, the festival’s long-time Swedish friend - two Palme d’or winner Ruben Östlund - will be back in the French ski resort, where he partly shot his film Force Majeure and served as Jury President in 2018.

Östlund will serve as mentor to six debut directors, including Marlene Emilie Lyngstad, who picked up the Nordic Talents Pitch Prize 2023 for her project Cute - (see our story here Nordic Talents top prize to Cannes La Cinef winner Marlene Emilie Lyngstad for CUTE) and the Cannes La Cinef top prize for Norwegian Spring.


Nordic film galore at Les Arcs - 15 at the festival and 5 at the Industry Village

Ruben Ostlund / PHOTO: Goteborg Film Festival

Les Arcs Coproduction Village unspooling December 16-19 will be hosting two other fiction films from rising talents.

produced by Iceland’s Compass Films (Cold) is “an environmental dramatic music-based comedy, shot in a realistic style, yet with magical moments, similar in tone to Band,” according to producer Heather Millard. “But this time, I just love that it focuses on the Marimo algae or ‘Shitballs’ as they are known in Iceland.”

In the film, the main character Helga who used to be a much-appreciated singer and activist in Iceland, has isolated herself from people and lives alone with her plants, with which she can even communicate. Her sister and ex-bandmate, thinks she is crazy and hasn’t spoken to her since Helga almost had them both killed by sinking a whaling ship two years ago. When Helga discovers the Shitballs, a rare plant growing only in two lakes in the world, one in Iceland and one in Japan, and the threat of extinction they are facing, she decides to save this species no matter what. She is convinced that what you give love blossoms, and what you consider shit dies. Ultimately, she must decide if she is willing to sacrifice her own life for the Shitballs.

For Millard, the project is altogether "hilariously funny, yet dramatic, and at the same time, strangely real in its fiction".

So far the feature has received development support from the Icelandic Film Centre and a research grant from the Scandinavian-Japanese Foundation.

“At Les Arcs we’re looking for a great sales agent and some solid co-producers to bring on board. We are very open to creative collaborations and are looking forward to seeing what partners Shitballs resonates with,” said Millard who hopes to start shooting in the fall 2024.

Cinema, cats and life
Also a Life produced by Norway’s Stær Film (Elena, Calls from Moscow) is the sophomore feature by Anders Emblem, behind the festival hit A Human Position.

The story unfolds in a respite care home for children and youth with intellectual disability.

Every day comes with new challenges for the social workers and residents despite it being a well-functioning ecosystem, full of warmth and humour.

When a young resident reveals she is pregnant, head therapist Eivor is expected to steady the ship through its legal and ethical uncertainties. At the same time as being the calm and collected leader, the situation affects her on a deeper personal level. Cinema, cats and life.

Stær Film co-founder and producer Elisa Fermanda Pirir said she was fascinated by Anders Emblem’s warm and precise vision of modern Scandinavia, after watching A Human Position and got in touch with him.

“When I met Emblem, we could talk about cinema, cats and life for hours!” Pirir told us.


Nordic film galore at Les Arcs - 15 at the festival and 5 at the Industry Village

Elisa Fernanda Pirir   / PHOTO: Daniela Toma

For her, Also a Life is “a beautiful, warm and subtle Nordic slow cinema piece but also intensely emotional, and the drama will be kept in a deep psychological level. The film will ask the basic questions of the value of life, what it means to be human today, and perhaps who is allowed to be."
“But despite the big themes, continues Pirir, “the tone will be warm and light. It will show the humour and melancholy of life at a care home and shed a light on this parallel world in our society.”

So far the project has received development support from the Norwegian Film Institute.
“Our goal at Les Arcs is to find a Nordic or French co-producer to join us on this trip,” said the producer. Principal photography is scheduled to start in the fall 2024.

The third Nordic project to be pitched at the Coproduction Village is A Friend by seasoned director Teppo Airaksinen (The Ceiling, Juice), produced by Finland’s Tack Films, with development support from the Finnish Film Foundation.

Producer John Lundsten describes the project as “a comedic odyssey of self-realisation, infused with the mystique of magical realism.

The main character Pirkka, is a copywriter on the verge of fatherhood, struggling with work, a strained marriage, and the emotional scars of his father's neglect. His life takes a surreal turn when Tiia Tipitiainen, his childhood imaginary friend, inexplicably appears as an alcoholic woman, visible to all. Terrified, Pirkka flees to Helsinki, yet Tiia follows him, infiltrating his life, wreaking havoc and ultimately urging him to confront his painful past.

Lundsten will be looking for co-producers, financiers and a sales agent in Les Arcs.

Meanwhile two anticipated Nordic features in post-production have been selected for the Works in Progress.

Acts of Love carried by Östlund’s long-time Danish co-production house Paloma Productions, is the sophomore feature by Jeppe Rønde (Bridgend). The drama which won best pitch at Haugesund’s New Nordic Films 2021, tells of a young woman (Cecilie Lassen), living in a religious community, whose orderly life is disrupted when a man from her past (Jonas Holst Schmidt) suddenly comes to visit her.


Nordic film galore at Les Arcs - 15 at the festival and 5 at the Industry Village

Jeppe Rønde / PHOTO: Sebastian Blenkov

“We’ve been filming for seven intense weeks at an old convent on the West Coast of Jutland and it went great,” said producer Julie Friis Walenciak.

The film backed by the Danish Film Institute, the West Danish Film Fund and DR will be released in Denmark by Scandinavian Film Distribution.

Top editors Theis Schmidt (Boy From Heaven) and Olivier Bugge Coutté (The Worst Person in the World) are currently working on the drama, due for delivery in March 2024.

“At Les Arcs, we will show eight minutes consisting of two scenes: the opening of the film and a crucial scene that takes place half way through the story,” said Walenciak who is looking forward to discussing the film with sales agents at the skiing resort.

The Swedish Torpedo
from versatile director Frida Kempff (Knocking, Winter Buoy), is produced by Sweden's Momento Film, in co-production with Estonia’s Amrion Film, Finland’s Inland Film Company and Belgium’s Velvet Films.

The realistic drama was inspired by the true story of Swedish swimmer Sally Buaer, first Scandinavian who crossed the English Channel in 1939. In the title roles are Josefin Neldén, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and Lisa Carlehed. See our story - Frida Kempff prepares The Swedish Torpedo and 4th Momento Film collaboration.


Nordic film galore at Les Arcs - 15 at the festival and 5 at the Industry Village

David Herdies, Frida Kempff, Josefin Nelden / PHOTO: AP

On the festival side, no less than five Nordic shorts and 10 feature lengths will be showcased between December 16-23.

Those include Ernst de Geer’s tour de force The Hypnosis (Kinovista France), selected for the main competition, Selma Vilhunen’s Little Adults (Haut et Court) bowing at the 'Playtime', Lea Glob’s Apolonia, Apolonia (Survivance) and Ninna Pálmadóttir’s Solitude (Jour2Fête), both part of 'Hauteur'; Nikola Arcel’s The Promised Land (The Jokers) and Margrete Olin’s Songs of Earth in the 'Oscars on ski', Östlund’s double Special screenings The Square and Force Majeure, the animated film Rosa and the Stone Troll by Karla Nor Holmbäck and the documentary And the King said What a Fantastic Machine by Axel Danielson and Maximilien van Aertryck, both selected for the Youth programme.

    For the full Les Arcs programme, CLICK HERE.