Samanou Acheche Sahlstrøm's "In Your Arms" took home the Dragon Award for Best Nordic Film as well as the international film critics' FIPRESCI Award at the closing gala of Scandinavia's leading film festival in Göteborg.
The Dragon Award for Best Nordic Documentary went to Joshua Oppenheimer's "The Look of Silence," while Jeppe Rønde's "Bridgend" received a Special Mention in the Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award competition.
"When Is Life Not Worth Living?"
Samanou Acheche Sahlstrøm is making his feature debut with "In Your Arms," exploring the relationship between two vulnerable people making an extraordinary journey.
Maria is a nurse in a nursing home. The only person she seems to have any close contact with is Niels, one of the patients at the nursing home. He is paralyzed from the waist down and his neural disorder is slowly eating away at the rest of his body. When Niels' family declines to accompany him to Switzerland where he can legally commit assisted suicide, Maria agrees to go with him.
The jury behind the Dragon Award Best Nordic Film motivates their decision:
"The award goes to a film that with honest sensitivity brings up the questions: When is life worth living? When is life not worth living? Told in a pure language, with poetic moments, and with an acting that is vibrating of human authenticity. A film that ends with death – but also with life, love and hope."
Samanou Acheche Sahlstrøm, born in France, graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 2011 with "Les Amours Perdues," starring Emmanuelle Béart and Denis Lavant. "I clearly have a fondness for tragic stories," says the director in our latest FILM magazine: Travelling with a Dead Man
"In Your Arms" is produced by Sara Namer for Meta Film with support from the Danish Film Institute's talent programme New Danish Screen. The two demanding lead roles are played by Lisa Carlehed and Peter Plaugborg. International sales are handled by Meta Film.
"A Performance of History"
"The Look of Silence," Joshua Oppenheimer's companion piece to "The Act of Killing" from 2012, focuses once again on Indonesia's dark past, this time as seen through the eyes of the victims. We follow Adi, a young optometrist, confronting the men who killed his brother, one of the more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals massacred in 1965-66.
The jury handing out the Dragon Award Best Nordic Documentary issued this motivation:
"The award goes to a film which breaks the barriers between documentary and fiction, by opening up space for a performance of history. Using the camera to confront memories, and inspire reconciliation, this film's look at the tragical past shapes a nation's view of the future."
Both "The Look of Silence" and "The Act of Killing" have garnered massive attention for their eye-opening approach to a dark chapter in Indonesian history. "I don't see my two films as uncovering a hidden and forgotten genocide, nor am I certain that would be of value in and of itself. The purpose of both films is to expose the present-day legacy of genocide," says Joshua Oppenheimer in our FILM magazine: Revealing the Fiction of Our Reality
"The Look of Silence" is produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen for Final Cut for Real with support from the Danish Film Institute. The film world premiered at Venice Film Festival where it received the Grand Jury Prize. Cinephil is in charge of international sales.
Special Mention to "Bridgend"
Jeppe Rønde's "Bridgend," recipient of a Special Mention in the Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award competition, is based on true events from Bridgend County in South Wales where a wave of teen suicides shook the small community a few years back.
In the film we follow Sara who moves with her father Dave back to the former mining town where they are from. Dave is a policeman tasked with solving the spate of mysterious suicides among the town's youth. As the suicides mount, Sara's fascination with the group grows and, against her father's will, she falls in love with one of the boys, Jamie.
Over six years, Jeppe Rønde made frequent visits to Wales to get close to the local youth. "The important thing for me wasn't to provide an answer, because how do you do that? Instead, I tried to get close to the teens and understand what drives them," says the director in our interview in FILM: United in Death
"Bridgend" is produced by Michel Schønnemann and Malene Blenkov for Blenkov & Schønnemann Pictures with support from the Danish Film Insitute's talent programme New Danish Screen. The film world premiered in the Tiger Competition at Rotterdam Film Festival, also ending this weekend. International sales are handled by the producers.
Göteborg Film Festival / 23 January – 2 February 2015
Key House Mirror awarded in Rotterdam
Friday Michael Noer's "Key House Mirror," which opened the Göteborg Film Festival on 23 January, was awarded the Dutch film critics' KNF Award at the closing ceremony of the Rotterdam Film Festival. See more: Prize Winners
Read our interview with the director: No Age Limit on Desire