Jonas Holmberg • Artistic director, Göteborg Film Festival
“Finding amazing films directed by women has actually been the easiest bit”
by Jan Lumholdt
- We chatted to the artistic director of the Göteborg Film Festival, Jonas Holmberg, to discuss plans for the gathering, both big and small
During a rare break from his hectic schedule, the artistic director of the Göteborg Film Festival, Jonas Holmberg, was happy and pleased to discuss plans for the gathering, both big and small.
Cineuropa: For your 2020 programme, you are advertising "over 400 films". Is it hard to find them? Have you ever discovered a certain type of movie that feels especially "Göteborg"?
Jonas Holmberg: The goal of our extensive programme is twofold: to present the world's best films in the Nordic countries and to present the best Nordic films to the world. About half of our programme is Nordic, and we are particularly looking for artistically challenging and internationally relevant films. A good example is this year's opening film, Maria Bäck's personal and intelligent drama Psychosis in Stockholm, which will receive a world premiere at the festival. In our international programme, geographical and aesthetic diversity is a core value. We want to open up more perspectives on the world than those that tend to dominate today. We are proud to be showing films from 89 different countries this year.
You’ve also launched the “50/50 Vision” initiative, dedicated to gender equality. How was it born and named – and, not least, how did it affect the selection?
Like many major international film festivals, we joined the 5050x2020 project, but soon after that, we wanted to do more than just commit to being transparent with our gender equality statistics. Since 2020 has been designated as a goal for attaining gender equality in the film industry, we want to start the film festival year by showing that it is possible for an international film gathering to have an equal-opportunity programme.
So this year, we decided in advance that half of the films in the programme would be directed by women. The name "50/50 Vision" is a play on the term "20/20 vision", which at the optician means you have perfect vision. We believe that the lack of equality in the film industry poses a visual problem for the film arts. A more equal film industry would give more perspectives and a sharper picture of the world. Today, it often feels like the film industry has only one eye open.
It has not been particularly difficult to achieve a gender-balanced film programme. The project certainly created some very interesting, complicated and difficult discussions during the organisation of our programme – about gender equality, quality and feminism. Finding amazing films directed by women has actually been the easiest bit.
Anna Odell's gynaecological chair project is definitely worth mentioning. How did this collaboration develop? Did she come to you, or did you ask her to come up with something?
We asked Anna Odell if she wanted to cooperate with us. She is one of the bravest and most fascinating filmmakers in Sweden, and has worked on gender issues in interesting ways in her previous works. When she presented the idea that, in a movie, some of Sweden's most powerful men are asked if they want to undergo a gynaecological examination, and then thought of showing the film in a custom-built gynaecological cinema, we immediately became very involved. It’s a brilliant project – fun, challenging and extremely relevant in relation to the issues we want to discuss. I am very proud, and it will be extremely exciting to let the work meet the audience!
Any thoughts on the position of the event during the calendar year, like the fact that you coincide with Sundance and Rotterdam, or on Swedish cultural politics in general? What would you wish for the festival if you had a choice yourself?
Since Sundance changed its dates, three major international film festivals run in parallel at the beginning of the year. It does pose some logistical challenges – filmmakers who show their movie at all three festivals become quite exhausted. At the same time, it enables collaborations that are positive, and I would like to see us cooperating even more than we already do.
As far as Swedish film politics is concerned, I’d like a greater focus on how the films reach the audience. There’s a great deal of good films being made in Sweden right now, but the political discussion is very much about why the audience does not want to see those movies. At the Göteborg Film Festival, we know that the audience wants to see them, if they are presented in the right way and in the right context. I believe we need to think more about how we create a broad and vital film culture in Sweden, where artistically interesting films can reach out, and be relevant and interesting to the audience. In such a film-culture ecosystem, film festivals play an important role, and I would, of course, wish that national film politics were as committed as in the rest of Europe.
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