Lübeck, Oct. 5, 2016. Travelling to different places means encountering different people, cultures, circumstances, temperatures, food, customs, gestures and moral concepts. The historical and current films from this year’s Retrospective at the 58th Nordic Film Days Lübeck (Nov. 2 – 6, 2016), which this year is titled “In Different Worlds” will take audiences around the globe with Scandinavian protagonists – researchers and scientists, aid workers, seamen, foreign reporters or travellers in love.
The director and curator of the Retrospective, Jörg Schöning, has put together a programme of documentaries and narrative films that reflect the intercultural encounters of Scandinavians travelling abroad, and illustrate the famed Scandinavian cosmopolitanism and their humanitarian achievements, but also their political missteps. We hope that the films will also sensitise audiences to the historical context of the current migration movements. “In these films, the protagonists are confronted with tremendous cultural diversity that will directly involve audiences", says Jörg Schöning about his selection.
The Retrospective opens on November 2, 2016 with Joe Hill (1971) by Swedish director Bo Widerberg. It is about one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in the USA. Immigrant Swede Joel Hägglund, who became a legendary labour leader in his adopted country, was falsely accused of murder.
Among the highlights of this year’s Retrospective are a screening of the silent film “Across the Deserts of Asia with Sven Hedin” in St. Katharine Church in Lübeck on November 3, 2016 at 7 pm. Cameraman Paul Lieberenz travelled with Swedish explorer Hedin on the latter’s 1928 expedition from Beijing to Urumchi and captured impressive images of the desert landscape, caravans, unpredictable weather and sandstorms. The screening will be accompanied by a spectacular musical tapestry by three students and Professor Franz Danksagmüller from the Lübeck Academy of Music, using various sound systems such as wiimote, nunchuck, organ, gulliphon and live electronic music.
On November 3 and 4, 2016 we will be presenting a very special screening – a Cinemiracle in the crisp November air! The film Windjammer (USA, 1958), one of the best-known documentaries produced in the rare Cinemiracle format, will be projected on three screens in the former prison yard of the European Hansemuseum. The film follows the journey of the Norwegian training ship Christian Radich from Oslo to the Caribbean, then to New York and back to Norway. Along the route of 17,000 nautical miles, the crew experienced fascinating encounters – including one with the German sail freighter Pamir on its last journey before it sank. Shanty songs form a key element of the film, and the Lübeck Shanty choir Möwenshiet will accompany the screening with songs from its repertoire. Admission to this outdoor film presentation is free.
On November 3, 2016, "Vikingo" will offer audiences a special documentary by Icelandic director Þorfinnur Guðnason, who travelled to the Dominican Republic for an introduction in to the world and culture of cockfighting provided by an Icelandic rooster breeder who has been living in the island nation for years. It will be followed by the presentation of “My African Diary”, a documentary that illuminates post-apartheid life in South Africa. The film will be introduced by its Danish director Jon Bang Carlsen, whose latest film “Déjà Vu” can be seen in the NFL documentary section. A different take on life on the African continent will be provided by the 2015 Finnish documentary “Leaving Africa” (dir: Iiris Härmä) about a Finnish aid worker.
On Friday, November 4, 2016, another silent film screening with musical accompaniment in St. Katharine Church will see three people fighting to survive after a shipwreck. Ernst Wendt directed “The White Desert” (Germany, 1922). Musical accompaniment for the film will be provided by Hamburg musicians Krischa Weber and Goran Lazarevic on the cello, singing saw and accordion.
Famed Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki is also once again represented in this year’s Retrospective. “Helsinki Napoli” is a sly gangster comedy, with a Finn in Berlin involuntarily ending up with a pile of money and then having to flee from some nasty thugs. In Kaurismäki’s adventure film “Amazon”, by contrast, the protagonist ends up in Brazil, far, far from his Finnish homeland. The life of indigenous people is also the subject of the Norwegian documentary “Jungle Beyond” by director Per Høst.
“A Man from the Congo River” illuminates another kind of journey to a different world. The Finnish documentary is about the merchant seamen from Scandinavian who took jobs in the heart of Africa, on the Congo, and were confronted with the harsh realities of slavery and the colonial industries. The film by director Jouko Aaltonen sheds light on a largely unknown and very dark capital of colonial history. Aaltonen has a second film at this year's NFL: “Ambassadors” draws a portrait of a diplomat.
In “Death and the Devil”, Peter Nestler uses contemporary images to reconstruct the life of his grandfather, a Swedish colonial adventurer. In “From Different Worlds”, we see love overcome cultural differences. The screenwriters of “Misery Harbour”, Kenny Sanders and Sigve Endresen, will be guests in Lübeck to introduce the film set in Newfoundland, and directed by Sami-Norwegian Nils Gaup. In Aki Kaurismäki’s classic “Leningrad Cowboys Go America", audiences can travel across the USA with the worst rock and roll band in the world.
How the individual films negotiate “different worlds” and how “intercultural encounters” lead to a dialogue in society will be the subject of the third Lübeck Film Studies Colloquium, a two-day event with scientists, students and other interested people discussing the subject under the leadership of Dr. Anders Marklund, professor at Lund University and editor-in-chief of the “Journal of Scandinavian Cinema”. The focus will be on, among other things, five short films by Peter Weiss, who was born in Germany more than 100 years ago and emigrated to Sweden. Lars Gustaf Andersson of Lund University will give an introductory presentation on the writer and filmmaker.