Susanne Kasimir and Thomas Hailer • Administrative director and artistic director, Nordic Film Days Lübeck
“A lot of big careers started here in Lübeck, and it feels great to be celebrating with everyone again”
by Teresa Vena
- We talked to some of the team behind the Nordic Film Days Lübeck, as genre films and movies set abroad are due to dominate the programme of this year's edition
After an online event in 2020, the Nordic Film Days Lübeck is making a comeback from 3-7 November this year, with a hybrid edition. The festival serves as a home for Scandinavian films in Germany, offering an important gathering for both audience and industry. We talked to administrative director Susanne Kasimir and artistic director Thomas Hailer about this year's programme, some of the highlights and the new trends in Scandinavian filmmaking.
Cineuropa: Did the pandemic have an impact on the production of films from Scandinavia?
Thomas Hailer: Actually, there were not fewer movies to choose from; on the contrary, there were nearly twice as many! A lot of films from 2020 couldn't be released and were not able to be shown at festivals, so we got to choose from within a window of the last one-and-a-half or two years for this edition.
Cop Secret [+see also:
interview: Hannes Þór Halldòrsson
film profile] by Hannes Þór Halldórsson will be opening the festival this year. What makes it the perfect opening film?
TH: It's a very special movie – it’s an action film, a police film and, at the same time, a satire on this genre. It is funny and vibrant, and keeps the audience gripped from beginning to end. The co-scriptwriter, Sverrir Þór Sverrisson, is a friend of our festival and has come to Lübeck to present several films already. Moreover, actor Rúrik Gíslan is quite well known in Germany, since he was part of the show Let's Dance.
Susanne Kasimir: The director's second career as a football player is also very interesting, and we want to draw attention to the festival and to films for a broader audience with this fact. The local football team has a link to Iceland, since a player from there has just joined it.
Are there any thematic or artistic trends you have seen in Scandinavian films, which can also be seen in the programme of the festival?
TH: One trend points towards a greater interest in genre films. It was not very common in the past to have genre films from Scandinavia shown at big festivals. Lamb [+see also:
interview: Valdimar Jóhannsson
film profile] by Valdimar Jóhannsson and The Innocents [+see also:
interview: Eskil Vogt
film profile] by Eskil Vogt from this year's Cannes programme are the most recent examples. We have observed that the genres vary enormously, from comedy to action films and neo-westerns, especially from the Baltic countries, as well as horror. This fondness for genre is visible across all sections, also in the children's films section and in the shorts, for example.
A second trend is the urge to discover the world. Several films tell stories from abroad, such as The Gravedigger's Wife [+see also:
film profile] by Khadar Ayderus Ahmed, set in Somalia; Pleasure [+see also:
interview: Ninja Thyberg
film profile] by Ninja Thyberg; and the new film by Bent Hamer, The Middle Man [+see also:
interview: Bent Hamer
film profile], with both of the latter set in the USA. The director has a unique view of the world and brings the world to Lübeck. I can also say that the coronavirus is not used as a topic in these films. The issues are related to family relationships and to concepts of identity. The movies deal with existential questions, such as “Where do we come from?” and “Where are we going?”, especially in this digital era.
How does it feel to be able to hold a physical edition this year?
TH: It's a big relief to be able to invite people to the cinema again. In addition, we’ll have guests again, such as Bent Hamer and Trine Dryholm, whom we are dedicating a homage to. A lot of big careers started here in Lübeck, and it feels great to be celebrating with everyone again.
SK: As for coronavirus prevention measures, we are doing well there, too. While following the current rules, we will be able to sell tickets for all of the seats in the cinema and offer the complete programme to the audience in total safety.
Was it difficult to convince the supporters and financiers to get back on board after the pandemic?
SK: Actually, it was not difficult at all. Also, last year, even though we could not offer much in return for their support with the online edition, we were able to count on the help of our usual backers. We are lucky that the city of Lübeck is the main supporter of the festival and is a very reliable one, which even increased the funding for this year's edition. With them and new supporters, we are in a good position, thankfully.
TH: It is actually a great signal from the city of Lübeck that they are supporting us so well.
What is your focus for the industry days?
TH: Diversity will be a focus of the industry events. It concerns equality between male and female filmmakers, but also the representation of queer characters and themes in cinema. The Swedish documentary Pride and Prejudice by Eva Beling represents the starting point for the discussion, supported by titles such as Hello World by Kenneth Elvebakk. Moreover, we want to experiment with new techniques such as 3D and organise a mini-dome at a school, which will grow into a full dome next year. Immersive content can offer new inputs, and may be interesting for the local and regional industry.
What does the typical audience in Lübeck look like? And is there a segment that you want to target in particular?
TH: The average visitor is over 50 years old and female. The festival is warmly welcomed in the city and is primarily the public's festival. It was actually funded on the basis of a film-club initiative. That being said, we work very hard to reach children and youngsters more actively. We make efforts to bring film to schools and to show the pedagogical value of movies, among other things by organising a specific symposium during the festival. We want to develop the children's section, which is very dear to us, also by thinking about new formats that stretch beyond the days of the festival.
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