The festival programme – new perspectives and evocative subject matter meet young talent and well-known directors

On the dais alongside Lübeck Mayor Jan Lindenau and the curators of the festival sections, the festival directors Linde Fröhlich (Artistic Director) and Susanne Kasimir (Festival Manager) presented the entire programme for the hybrid 62nd NFL at today’s press conference in the Radisson Blu Senator Hotel Lübeck. A lead detective with panic attacks; a song about a favourite food that became a surprise hit; or the political future of the world’s biggest island – the line-up of films for the 62nd Nordic Film Days Lübeck (Nov. 4-8, 2020) will confront fans of Nordic and Baltic cinema with a range of controversial, exciting, and sometimes uncomfortable subject matter. But festival guests will also get stories about families that stick together, friendships that overcome cultural differences, and a diverse range of love stories.

Of the 160 films showing in 224 screenings over the five days of the festival, 72 of them were directed by women, including seven of the 16 films in the main competition. That means that 45 percent of the festival films were directed by women. In addition to the live screenings in Lübeck’s cinemas, for the first time, more than 130 of the NFL films will be available for streaming for audiences in Germany. Beginning this year, a total of 10 prizes will be awarded at the ceremony on November 7, with a total endowment of 57,500 euros. 

“2020 has been a difficult year, but a good one for films. We are pleased to be presenting a cultural highlight this autumn with a particularly high-quality slate of brand-new films. It is a reminder that, notwithstanding the covid pandemic, there are other subjects and facets of life that are worth fighting for. It underlines the responsibility of each individual for how history unfolds, and the significance of community for the development of the individual. The films are socially aware and politically conscious – and there is even a laugh or two to be had!, says artistic director Linde Fröhlich.

The core of the festival is the narrative feature Competition, showcasing 16 films that are also in the running for the NDR Film Prize, endowed with 12,500 euros. Ten of the competition films are German premieres, one is a European premiere, and two others are international premieres. In a nod to the German-Danish friendship year 2020, the festival will open on November 4 with a screening of the Danish film “The Good Traitor”, directed by Christina Rosendahl. As the title character, Ulrich Thomsen masterfully embodies the diplomat Henrik Kaufmann, whose resistance stance during World War II is the film’s subject. The Specials section also comprises two films from Denmark – “Into the Darkness” by Anders Refn, which uses the fate of a Danish manufacturing dynasty from to draw a social tableau of Denmark under Nazi occupation, and Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round”, a clear-eyed analysis of the “people’s drug” alcohol as a catalyst for societal tensions, and a social bonding agent.

In the Competition section, the focus is on family, and children and their parents, but other relationships, friendships, and group structures also come under the lupe. In the tragi-comedy “A Perfectly Normal Family”, Malou Reyman tells the story of a family father who comes out as transsexual, and in “Are We Lost Forever”, David Färdmar follows the break-up of a gay couple. Hip Finnish thirty-somethings meet up to talk about love and careers in Jenni Toivoniemi’s narrative feature debut “Games People Play”; and in her realistic chronicle of daily routines, “Diana’s Wedding”, Charlotte Blom uses humour to examine marriage and family life in a Norwegian row-house complex in the 1980s and 1990s. Jonas Selberg Augustsén’s film “The Longest Day”, shot in one of Sweden’s five official minority languages, shows various facets of human life on one summer solstice day north of the arctic circle. And in his second feature “Tigers”, Swedish director Ronnie Sandahl shines the spotlight on a young football player in crisis as he faces the bitter rivalry in the team and the brutal reality of the modern business of pro football. In “The Garden” (Iceland/Poland, 2020), Ragnar Bragason gives us a quirky family farce about a welfare recipient fighting for her laburnum plant and her grown son – but especially for the state payments she illegally collects for the latter. Quirky is also the word for the carousing of the six men in “The Last Fishing Trip”. Icelandic directors Þorkell S. Harðarson and Örn Marinó Arnarson take great delight in demolishing male rituals.

In “The Day we Died”, Ole Christian Madsen looks at an episode in Denmark’s recent history, exploring the 2015 terrorist attacks in Copenhagen from the point of view of both the victims and the perpetrator. Maria Sødahl uses autobiographical aspects in her Norwegian-Swedish film “Hope”, which is about how the shock of a cancer diagnosis reverberates through the life of a successful stage director and her family. The drama “Charter” (dir: Amanda Kernell, SE/NO/DK, 2020) is about a divorced single mother who makes a snap decision to whisk away her children when their father tries to gain sole custody. An unhappy love affair involving Finnish painter Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) is at the core of “Helene”, a Finnish-Estonian film directed by Antti J. Jokinen. Several films from Finland and Latvia take a look at life in the deep country. “Forest Giant” by Finnish director Ville Jankeri is about a successful manager who faces a choice between advancing his career or standing in solidarity with the people of his hometown. In “The Pit”, Dace Pūce uses a sensitive touch to tell the story of a talented young boy in the hinterlands who almost breaks in the face of a brutal adult world. And finally, in “Beware of Children”, director Dag Johan Haugerud questions the responsibility of the adults in the accidental death of a young boy.

The festival mounted by the City of Lübeck is an annual treat for fans of Nordic and Baltic cinema, and has long been one of the highlights of Schleswig-Holstein’s event calendar. The films will be shown in 10 cinemas and special venues, such as the Schuppen 6, where audiences can watch silent films with live musical accompaniment, or the Kolosseum cinema, where a Nordic book lounge is an invitation to browse between screenings. In addition, this year will see industry events held in virtual or hybrid form as part of the Lübeck Meetings, such as the masterclass Animadok. 

In keeping with the covid 19 hygiene regulations, a mouth and nose covering is mandatory for all guests (age six or over) at all screenings and events at the 62nd Nordische Filmtage Lübeck. That includes in all cinemas and event venues, including the foyer, bathrooms, and other public spaces, as well as in your seat during the screening or event. A mask is also mandatory when purchasing tickets in person (sale begins Nov. 1 at 1pm) at the CineStar Filmpalast Stadthalle Lübeck, as well as when standing in line. The festival asks all filmgoers and visitors to be considerate of others. 

Press photos for all the festival films are now available for download here. Up-to-date news is also available on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram/nordicfilmdays. Advance ticket sales begin on Nov. 1 at 1pm. Tickets for cinema screenings can be purchased at the box office of the CineStar Filmpalast Stadthalle Lübeck, as well as online at the NFL website and at Streaming access can be purchased at the partner site of Culturebase under the link 

Press and Publicity Department
Nordische Filmtage Lübeck