Nordic films screening at the Cleveland International Film Festival 2017

Festival name: Cleveland International Film Festival

About the festival: The Cleveland International Film Festival promotes artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community.

Dates: 29 March – 9 April

Where? Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Denmark

Last Men in Aleppo

Directed by Feras Fayyad

“Merciless war has been raging in Syria for the last five years. Though millions have fled their homes for foreign borders, one group of brave men are steadfast in protecting what is left of their cherished city of Aleppo. The Syrian Civil Defense, more commonly known as the White Helmets, banded together in 2013 to serve as a volunteer search-and-rescue crew for their fellow civilians enduring the destruction. These men respond to ongoing attacks, often pulling bodies from massive piles of rubble, their eyes glued to the sky for fear of yet another Russian airstrike. While much of the city is in desolate ruins, life still remains. An all-too-brief cease-fire gives families a quick respite from death as children run freely in the streets. But daily bombings and scarce resources force these local heroes to weigh their self-proclaimed destiny to defend their home with the grave consequences they will inevitably leave their children. LAST MEN IN ALEPPO depicts the unbelievable resilience of human beings who are barely surviving and begs the world to finally notice.” – CIFF Synopsis

CIFF Link

View on the Nordic Film Database

The War Show

“Obaidah, a free-spirited Syrian radio DJ, thrives on sharing art with the masses. But a quiet revolution has been brewing, inspiring her to document citizens’ dreams of an uprising. Her filming begins in 2011 in the early stages of a string of Syrian civilian protests against President Bashar al-Assad and his authoritative regime, part of a larger movement now known as the Arab Spring. With her camera in tow, the weapon most feared by the regime, Obaidah captures the rising tensions of her once peaceful homeland. She graciously introduces us to an eclectic cast of characters who evolve into her unofficial family of protesters—united in their desire for a government upheaval. When their public demonstrations meet hostile resistance, civilians and the regime unleash increasingly violent attacks on each other with no regard for the climbing death toll and mass destruction. Through daring footage of dodging regime security checkpoints and outrunning snipers’ deadly gunshots, THE WAR SHOW bravely exposes an up-close-and-personal point of view of a people willing to accept death in the name of patriotism.” – CIFF Synopsis

CIFF Link

View on the Nordic Film Database

Bugs

Directed by Andreas Johnsen

“In recent years the United Nations has suggested that, due to a growing population, we may find ourselves dealing with a food shortage sooner than we think. One of their recommendations: edible insects. Championed by cooks for their unique flavors, and embraced by environmentalists for their small ecological impact, creepy crawlers are being hailed as the miracle cure. In BUGS, director Andreas Johnsen teams up with researchers and chefs from Copenhagen’s Nordic Food Lab to determine whether or not that’s the case. Traveling to such places as Mexico, Australia, Kenya, and Japan, they encounter communities where such delicacies as grasshoppers, termite queens, and venomous hornets are eaten. That may sound unappetizing, but the film’s expert chefs transform these gooey creatures into beautiful, great tasting dishes. Along the way, however, the filmmakers discover a number of things that could dampen the U.N.’s perfect plan. They also learn the food dilemma is less about population growth and more about unfair distribution and corporate greed. This colorful documentary is powerful in its message while allowing for some incredibly fun moments”

CIFF Link

Finland

The Good Postman

Directed by Tonislav Hristov

“Nestled near Turkey’s border is a tiny Bulgarian village that has seen its share of weary travelers over the centuries dating back to the early years of the Ottoman Empire. Now, given the multitude of instability in Africa and the Middle East, this village is again seeing the foot traffic of refugees trying to find a new home anywhere in Europe. THE GOOD POSTMAN is director Tonislav Hristov’s sixth documentary, and it couldn’t be more timely given the wave of refugees and nationalism that is sweeping through Europe and here at home. When Ivan, the titular postal worker, decides to run for mayor of the town of a few dozen people, he runs on a platform of granting asylum to the refugees. His thinking is this will re-energize the sleepy and decrepit town. A microcosm of much larger stages, the town and its people contain all the characters we’re seeing in our political theater today—including an ill-mannered malcontent who thinks the refugees will be the end of the town. Beautifully shot and poignant, THE GOOD POSTMAN is a nice reminder that there is still good in people.” – CIFF Synopsis

CIFF Link

View on the Nordic Film Database

Lake Bodom

Directed by Taneli Mustonen

“Here’s a great idea: convince your friends to go camping. Then take them to the same spot on a lake where four teenagers were brutally murdered years ago. And the killer was never found! Awesome. What could possibly go wrong? Think you know where this is heading? Think again. Just as the bloody body count begins, LAKE BODOM takes a twist you will not see coming. Gleefully subverting the slasher-film rules while exploiting them for maximum nerve-pounding, this film offers a nasty little stew of carnage, sex, and unexpected surprises (none of them happy ones) that will especially delight horror junkies tired of the same old. It even manages to slyly comment on aspects of teenage culture that are terrifying in their own right. Stylishly filmed and skillfully edited for relentless tension, LAKE BODOM is the most fun you’ll have while screaming. It offers a fresh new set of gory and frightening reasons why you should stay the hell out of the woods.” – CIFF Synopsis

CIFF Link

View on the Nordic Film Database

Little Wing (Tyttö nimeltä Varpu)

Directed by Selma Vilhunen

“Varpu is busy navigating her snarky friendships at horse-riding camp and the tricky business of first crushes. When she’s not doing 12-year-old things, she’s taking care of her mother who can’t quite seem to get a handle on the responsibilities of adulthood. As her mom prepares to reenter the dating scene, Varpu’s questions about her absent father go unanswered. In a fit of rebellion, Varpu finds herself at the wheel of a stolen car headed north for Oulu with nothing but a dead cell phone and an address for the father she’s never met. With every bit of optimism riding on this life-changing meeting, Varpu hopes this missing piece can finally bring stability to her life of uncertainty. However, this man is not the father figure she had in mind. Touching and conflicted, LITTLE WING portrays the complicated dynamics of a mother-daughter duo and reminds us that while we cannot change our parents, maybe we don’t have to.” – CIFF Synopsis

CIFF Link

View on the Nordic Film Database

Tale of a Lake (Järven tarina)

Directed by Marko Röhr, Kim Saarniluoto

“A film of astonishing grandeur, TALE OF A LAKE takes us on a plunge into the icy waters of Finland. In this land of 190,000 lakes, endless misty forests, and burbling brooks, water is forever reborn. English narrator Jonathan Hutchings accompanies us along the cyclical path of a tiny Finnish mythological water spirit. We learn that ancient Finnic people considered the swan their divine ancestor, the elk their guardian spirit. Miraculous cinematography by Teemu Liakka captures mysterious loons and mischievous otters, up-close and personal. We marvel at the building skills of busy beavers—the engineers of the eco-system—as well as toad wrestling matches and water insect ballets. There is even poetry to be found in the hatching of fish eggs. Lush symphonic sound by composer Panu Aaltio adds to the thrilling sensory experience of TALE OF A LAKE. Not just a hydrobiologist’s dream, this film will carry viewers of all ages along its course, revealing the power of flowing water that teems with eternal life.” – CIFF Synopsis

CIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

Iceland

Heartstone (Hjartasteinn)

Directed by Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson

“In a small town on the jagged coast of Iceland, two young boys are navigating the icy waters of adolescence. Best friends Thor and Christian, both from deeply dysfunctional homes, are stumbling through these awkward transitions in a place that offers little opportunity but to roam aimlessly and find trouble. Thor is discovering new feelings toward a female friend, as well as a deepening sexual attraction. Christian is discovering identical feelings for Thor—something that is frightening to him in a place where everyone knows each other and talks. Christian’s alcoholic father has just attacked a man on suspicion of being gay, forcing Christian to bury his feelings even deeper. As the long winter approaches and the first snow begins to fall, a shocking event will hurl both boys toward the realities of adulthood and leave one on the brink of survival. Evocative cinematography and a talented young cast help HEARTSTONE capture both the pain and beauty of young sexual exploration with unsparing honesty and compassion.” – CIFF synopsis

CIFF Link

View on the Nordic Film Database

Norway

Nowhere to Hide

Directed by Zaradasht Ahmed

“This is an undiagnosed war,” states Nori, surveying the devastation of a car bombing. “All we see are the symptoms,” he continues. Nori is a male nurse working at the Jalawla Medical Center in Central Iraq. When American troops withdrew in 2011, Nori was asked to carry a camera and document life afterward. NOWHERE TO HIDE is this extraordinary document, spanning the years from the withdrawal to the present. During that time Central Iraq, a region dubbed the “Triangle of Death” by the media, became a landscape of shifting conflicts and the steady advance of ISIS. Nori, with his wife and children, watched their homeland change from a peaceful place to one of unspeakable violence, confusion, and uncertainty about who the enemy is. As we accompany Nori, we watch as his position dreadfully alters from documenting the war and its victims to documenting his family fleeing for their lives as refugees. NOWHERE TO HIDE is shattering and immediate, the flesh and blood behind the endless headlines.

CIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

All the Beauty

“David and Sarah have fallen in and out of love and lust too many times to count. Four decades worth of their tumultuous romance is the subject of David’s four-act play, a topic Sarah wishes he would leave safely behind them. Ten years have passed since they last saw each other and, because of David’s failing health, Sarah has reluctantly agreed to his request of helping him put the finishing touches on their so-called love story. As she flips the pages of the manuscript full of familiar plot lines, Sarah relives their blissful moments of euphoria while being frequently interrupted by the painful memories fueled by their conflicting needs for both fidelity and freedom. Four pairs of actors portray David and Sarah at various ages in this groundbreaking play-within-a-movie. Complicated by bouts of passion and stifling egos, ALL THE BEAUTY is an intriguing portrayal of two lovers so achingly tormented by their affection, they struggle to figure out if the other is exactly what they don’t need or absolutely what they can’t live without.”- CIFF Synopsis

CIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

Sweden

Sami Blood (Sameblod)

Directed by Amanda Kernell

“Reluctantly returning home for her sister’s funeral, an elderly woman is forced to face the people and culture she spent her life denying and fleeing. She is a Sami, an indigenous people of Sweden who live by herding reindeer. They were once oppressed and deemed racially inferior, unworthy of education or protection. SAMI BLOOD is the story of her life, a familiar telling placed in a new and fascinating context. When she and her sister are shipped off to a draconian boarding school, the realities of how their culture and people are regarded become painfully clear. This fearlessly honest film depicts the racial discrimination and measurements they are subjected to, as well as the decision they are forced to make: accept their heritage with pride and defiance and remain outcast or deny the very core of who they are in order to escape and craft a future of their own. SAMI BLOOD is a brave and beautiful journey that will stir the viewer on the deepest levels.”

CIFF Link

Nordic Film Database