The Best of Nordic Cinema – Highlights from the 2021 Scandinavian Film Festival
With the Scandinavian finally coming to cinemas this Spring, we’re celebrating the best of Nordic cinema with these standout films from the Festival. Read on for some must watch films this festival, or, visit the Scandi homepage and browse the full program here.
Iceland’s #1 box office hit and submission to the 2021 Academy Awards International Film category, Agnes Joy is a tale of intergenerational struggle and imperfect relationships. Set in a picturesque Icelandic town, Rannveig (Katla M. Þorgeirsdóttir) is experiencing burnout in all aspects of her mundane suburban life. She is bored in her job; her marriage is falling apart and her relationship with her rebellious daughter Agnes (newcomer Donna Cruz) is becoming more and more precarious. When a seductive neighbour moves in next door, their world is upended and both women must face challenges beyond their control.
Agnes Joy is a compelling story of 2 flawed women, dealing with crises of identity – one a mid-life crisis, the other a coming of age struggle. The film is an earnest vision of the emotional angst and sincere love of the mother-daughter relationship.
Writer/director Grímur Hákonarson’s eagerly-anticipated follow up to the worldwide hit Rams is a rousing, David-and-Goliath comedy about a farmer’s wife who steps up to take on the corrupt local co-op in her remote Icelandic valley. Dairy farmers Inga (Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir) and her husband Reynir (Hinrik Ólafsson), love each other deeply, but are trapped – they’re in debt, they’re working 24/7 and haven’t had a vacation in years.
Reminiscent of underdog fables such as Woman At War and Three Billboards, and driven by Egilsdóttir’s feisty performance, Hákonarson’s humanistic and charming film is a winning mix of Icelandic gruffness and wry humour.
Icelandic comedy royalty Edda Björgvinsdóttir and Þórhallur ‘Laddi’ Sigurðsson unite for the lively tale Grandma Hofi, where two senior citizens feeling discarded by the aged care system choose to rob a bank in Santa costumes. In this box-office Icelandic hit, Hófí and Pétur are fed up with the conditions of their retirement home and decide to make money their own way. Slyly deceiving cops and hardened criminals, they attempt to pull off a small heist – offering plenty of laughs in the process. Björgvinsdóttir and Sigurðsson are a brilliant and engaging pairing, teaching us to never underestimate our elders’ abilities or wits.
Based on the best-selling novel by Christian Jungerson, Jesper W. Nielsen brings us an intense psychological thriller featuring four incredible performances from Danica Curcic, Amanda Collin, Babett Knudsen and Lene Maria Christensen.
Researcher Iben, and her best friend Marlene, librarian Anne-Lise and team administrator Camilla work together in a not-for-profit NGO in Copenhagen, profiling genocide and crimes against humanity. When Iben and Marlene receive death threats, they suspect a Serbian war criminal. However, as instances of office bullying escalate, and their suspicions shift to a culprit much closer to home. The Exception is a gripping drama led by strong, suspenseful performances and stylish cinematography.
Devout believer Mirjam (rising Norwegian star Josefine Frida) is a 19-year-old dance champion desperate to prove herself to her family. Her mother, uncle and step-father are all prominent members of the local evangelical church, and Mirjam seeks their guidance when the stress starts to impact her performance. Instead of comfort, they blame her failure on a lack of faith, pushing her towards a stricter, more conservative congregation that will draw her to the edge. Jorunn Myklebust Syversen’s Disco is a profoundly sensitive and heartbreaking depiction of contemporary Christian cults, showing the devastating efforts of a young woman trying to make her way in the world.