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A Chinese ice sculpture but no happy endings at the SIFF


- The Stockholm International Film Festival celebrates its first 25 years from 5-16 November with more than 200 films from 60 countries

A Chinese ice sculpture but no happy endings at the SIFF
Gentlemen by Mikael Marcimain

Celebrating its 25th anniversary from 5-16 November, the Stockholm International Film Festival will unspool more than 200 films from 60 countries – “from the most prestigious festival winners to movies from more unusual film-producing countries like Ukraine, Somalia and Mauritius”, said festival director Git Scheynius, announcing the programme yesterday (14 October). “Our Spotlight theme this year is Hope, celebrating quality movies that – without happy endings – make people grow.” 

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Swedish director Mikael Marcimain’s Gentlemen [+see also:
film profile
 – the adaptation of Klas Östergren’s “pulpy counter-history of post-war Sweden” – will open the festival, which will eventually be closed by Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild, about a young woman who – after her mother’s death – sets off on a 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. The midway point is marked by Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, following an actor (famous for the superhero character he once played) mounting a Broadway play.

UK director Mike Leigh – “a true cinematic humanist, an exceptional director of actors and a master of improvisational filmmaking” – will receive this year’s Stockholm Lifetime Achievement Award, the 7.3 kg Bronze Horse, the world’s heaviest film prize. Leigh will visit the festival with UK actress Marion Bailey, who plays one of the leads in his new film, Mr Turner [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Mike Leigh
film profile
, screening on 8 November.

The Stockholm Achievement Award goes to American actress Uma Thurman – “every time delivering a performance that is exciting, enthralling and ferocious, and a gift to audiences worldwide”. The festival will take the opportunity to unspool US director Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill 1 and Kill Bill 2 on 7 November. Thurman was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994).

Swedish director Roy Andersson, whose A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Roy Andersson
film profile
 – his first film in seven years – won the Golden Lion at Venice, will collect the Stockholm Visionary Award. “Every image, gesture and line of dialogue in his film mediates through humour and seriousness both humanity’s greatness and its fallibility,” said the festival, which will premiere A Pigeon on 9 November.

Another figure involved in the event this year is Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who should have been a member of the festival jury in 2013 but was not allowed to leave China, and sent an empty chair, dubbed “The Chair for Non-attendance”. Weiwei is still grounded in his homeland, but has designed an ice sculpture symbolising this year’s Spotlight theme, Hope; the artwork will be presented during the festival’s opening ceremony on 4 November, at Stockholm’s Norrmalmstorg.


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