October was a busy month with plenty of happenings to write about for Swedish WIFT:
If you like film, this is a great time of year! Both the distinguished New York Film Festival (NYFF) and picturesque Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) shows Cannes winners and Oscar favorites on their programs. NYFF screened Stig Björkman's "I Am Ingrid" and the guests at NYWIFT's annual HIFF brunch cheered when told about Anna Serner and the Swedish success model of equality for women in film. Scandinavia House showed more film than usual when hosting the first edition of the Nordic Film Festival, and last but not least, all the Oscar films are doing their PR tours now with the directors and actors. NYWIFT invites to screenings, mingle and seminars. In other words – a fun fall for film!
NYFF screened the beautiful documentary "I Am Ingrid" with director Stig Björkman present afterwards for a Q&A together with Ingrid's oldest daughter Pia Lindstrom. We learned that Ingrid is the only actress who has performed in films and theater plays in five different languages, and that as soon as “I Am Ingrid” was finished, a new box of celluloid turned up from the father's side with enough material for a follow up. Swedish Consulate co-arranged the reception afterwards, where among others Eva Dahlgren, who helped with the music in the movie, mingled with the guests. Most of them were Swedes, of course, but also some representatives of the American film industry attended, such as actress Sigourney Weaver. She was interviewed in the film because her first Broadway gig via Backstage was as understudy in Sir John Gielguds set of "The Constant Wife" with Ingrid Bergman in the lead role. Pictures of the reception are available here.
HIFF's Festival center is located at the Swedish-owned The Maidstone Inn, a quaint little hotel with rag rugs and Josef Frank sofas. A cute festival, but significant in terms of financial assistance to film makers in the form of awards. Tangerine Entertainment is behind HIFFs Juice Award granted to female directors portraying strong female roles. This year, Sarah Gavron won the award for "Suffragette" and was also present for a Q&A after the screening along with writer Abi Morgan and producers Fay Ward and Alison Owen. They talked about how successful the protests in connection with the London premiere was, which they thought raised the event from being just a piece of red carpet fluff to something more important. Sisters Uncut had organized the protest against the budget cuts supporting women who have experienced domestic violence.
Tangerine Entertainment Juice Award is given out at other festivals too, and in Woodstock it went to Linda-Maria Birbeck for "There should be rules”. The film also screened in the first edition of the Nordic Film Festival (NIFF), with producer Helene Molin present to accept the prize for Best Nordic Film. Congratulations! As far as the purpose of NIFF – maybe considering the large number of good films at prestigious film festivals which receives great press and still gets no distribution, NIFF can be seen as a welcome opportunity for films picked from the smaller festivals with even less chance to distribution, to be seen in a movie theatre in New York. Festival director John Matton stressed that unlike other festivals they offer the screenings free og charge to the public. Face Stockholm funded the festival together with the Nordic consulates, and Scandinavia House donated the premises.
Scandinavia House continues its high quality film program all year round, and in October they showed both "The Ceremony" directed by Lina Mannheimer and "She Monkeys" by Lisa Aschan. Mannheimer appeared after the screening for a Q&A together with production designer Elle Kunnos the Voss. They told us that the French looking rooms where the ceremonies where filmed, in fact was in a castle in the south of Sweden. Lina described protagonist Catherine Robbe-Grillet's reaction when she saw the finished film, which was silence, even though she would later come to accept and enjoy it. Catherine was in NY along with Beverly Charpentier, who also appeared inthe film, but they both chose to keep a low profile and not see the film nor attend the Q&A afterwards.
Now is the time when all the promotional film tours starts to gain attention before the Oscar nominations. NYWIFT presented a screening of the Danish-Polish production "Something Better to Come" at Crosby Hotel, with director Hanna Polak present for what became an emotional and very touching Q&A. She also took the opportunity to push for the Kickstarter campaign (goal now reached) created to finance the film's press and public screenings before the Oscars.
NYWIFT also invited their members to a pleasant reception with mingle at Cipriani, sponsored by A+E!
But the real star right now in terms of gender equality in film is probably the Swedish Film Institute's CEO Anna Serner. When NYWIFT organized its annual and popular brunch at HIFF, the guests cheered when told about Anna Serner and the Swedish model to achieve equality in film. Her work was described in an article in New York Times recently, and shortly thereafter she visited New York for a seminar at Columbia University, moderated by Melissa Silver of Women and Hollywood.