Lübeck, Nov. 02, 2020. The documentary film programme of the 62nd Nordic Film Days Lübeck, which will be available in Germany for streaming from Nov. 4-8, 2020, provides enthralling glimpses into the various realities of interesting and fascinating personalities, and includes 16 German premieres, one European premiere, and seven international premieres. “The nice thing about the documentary film line-up is that it shows us that there are other problems in the world besides the corona virus – and that people don’t shy away from tackling them. The films document the labyrinthine paths to happiness, and the surprising awareness that can result from following them. And it underscores the important role that different kinds of artists play in society”, says Artistic Director Linde Fröhlich. Of the 26 documentaries in the section, 13 will be in the running for the Documentary Film Prize awarded by the DGB Bezirk Nord trade union association (endowed since 2019 with € 5,000). The stated aim of the award is to encourage “directors to grapple innovatively with changes in our society, and to engage on a social and political level”.
Whether it’s a small-town theatre in Estonia, the Indonesian jungle, or a model sustainable settlement in Denmark, this year’s documentaries show that the path to true happiness does not always run smooth, and may not even be recognisable as such at first glance. In “Newtopia” (NO, 2020), for instance, Norwegian Audun Amundsen documented life on an Indonesian island for 14 years, where he made some close friendships. On the other hand, director Erlend E. Mo and his family moved into the Danish model settlement Permatopia in “Journey to Utopia” (DK/NO/SE, 2020) in an attempt to take an active role in battling climate change. And the effect of seeing 224 stage shows in 365 days on the life of a young Estonian woman is documented in “A Year Full of Drama” (EE, 2019) directed by Marta Pulk. There is also a look at the unique curriculum at Helsinki’s renowned Sibelius Academy in the film “Conductivity” (FI, 2020, dir: Anna-Karin Grönroos), which follows three students on the demanding path to becoming professional orchestra conductors.
Among other things, this year’s documentaries often look at two sides of a subject or a trauma. Love and physicality link the young women fighting unrealistic ideals of thinness in “Fat Front” (DK/NO/SE, 2019, dir: Louise Detlefsen and Louise Unmack Kjeldsen) with the senior citizens in “Still Into You” (FI, 2020) by Anu Kuivalainen, who talk about their past love lives and their current desires. Two films look at different aspects of dealing with sorrow and loss – “Eye to Eye” (FI, 2020) by John Webster, and “Beautiful Something Left Behind” (DK, 2020) by Katrine Philp. “Meanwhile on Earth” (SE, 2020) directed by Carl Olsson uses objective, distanced camerawork to document people working in a mortuary, who deal with death every day.
A look at various life stories, and past events that continue to leave their mark on the present is also a recurrent theme. In “Lady Time” (FI, 2019), director Elina Talvensaari uses pictures and documents to reconstruct the life of her apartment’s previous tenant, who lived for almost 100 years. And in “Kindertransports to Sweden” (SE/AT, 2019), director Gülseren Şengezer introduces us to four Jews who were sent on their own to Sweden in 1939 to escape the Nazi reign of terror. The autobiographical animated film “My Favorite War” (NO/LV, 2020) is an artful combination of the director Ilze Burkovska-Jacobsen’s childhood and the painful history of Latvia during the Cold War. That film, alongside Frédéric Schuld’s short “The Chimney Swift” from the Filmforum section, are the subject of this year’s master class Animadoc: Making the Invisible Visible, which will be held via video conferencing on Nov. 6, 2020.
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Another film set during the Cold War is “The Jump” (LT/FR/LV, 2020), directed by Giedré Žickytė, the story of a Lithuanian merchant seaman who in 1970, sought political asylum by literally jumping ship off the US coast, landing him squarely in the sticky web of Soviet-Western relations.
The life and work of fascinating artists is illuminated in both “The Animated Story of Jenny Lind” (SE, 2020, dir: Ditte Feuk), about the great Swedish singer who was venerated throughout Europe and the US in the 19th century, and in “Aalto” (FI, 2020, dir: Virpi Suutari), which looks at the life and work of the renowned Finnish architect and designer, and his two wives Aino and Elissa. While “A Song Called Hate” (IS, 2020, dir: Anna Hildur) documents how the Icelandic band Hatari caused a furore with their politics at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, “Just Like a Painting by Eggert Pétursson” (IS, 2020, dir: Gunnlaugur Þór Pálsson) draws a portrait of a fascinating Icelandic painter who is barely known outside the country’s borders.
A culinary journey across Iceland is served up in “Bountiful Land – Icelandic Food Tradition and Food History” (IS, 2019), directed by Ásdís Thoroddsen, who has two additional films screening at this year’s NFL – “Ingalo” and “We Are Still Here”, both in the Retrospective. Crustacean soup and coffee are on the menu at an Icelandic port café in “Lobster Soup” (ES/IS/LT, 2020, dir: Pepe Andreu and Rafael Molés), where the locals gather to talk about the curious world and its problems. And “The School of Housewives” (IS, 2020, dir: Stefanía Thors) is about more than just pretty table settings. In addition to cooking and preserving, sustainability plays a big role in the curriculum.
Almost all of the films in the Documentary section will be available for online streaming, solely in Germany. Advance sales for the streaming films begin on November 2 at 1pm on the platform nordische-filmtage.culturebase.org. All the films will be available from November 4 through November 8, 2020. Once you have started streaming a film, you will have 24 hours to watch it. Reportage, interviews, discussions around this year’s virtual festival will be posted at www.nordische-filmtage.de and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/@nordicfilmdays, and the NFL YouTube channel.
Press materials for the films of the 62nd Nordic Film Days Lübeck can be downloaded here.
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