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BERLINALE 2024 EFM

At the EFM, Picture Tree International pins its hopes on new Nordic cinema

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- In addition to five titles from Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark, the sales agent is bringing two German films to Berlin

At the EFM, Picture Tree International pins its hopes on new Nordic cinema
Raptures by Jon Blåhed

German sales agent Picture Tree International’s slate for the European Film Market (EFM, 15-21 February) has a predominantly Nordic flavour, with five main titles out of seven coming from Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

The first Nordic picture is Raptures (Sweden/Finland), the second fiction feature by writer-director Jon Blåhed (Inland [+see also:
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interview: Jon Blåhed
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]
). The period drama and first-ever feature in the Meänkieli language is based on true events and is inspired by Bengt Pohjanen’s novel Dagning; röd!. It tells the story of the infamous religious cult known as “The Korpela Movement” in the Torne Valley in northernmost Sweden in the 1930s. The film features a prominent Finnish cast led by Jessica Grabowsky, Jakob Öhrman, Hannu-Pekka Björkman, Elina Knihtilä and Golden Globe nominee Alma Pöysti (Tove [+see also:
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interview: Zaida Bergroth
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). After the second part of principal photography, Raptures is slated for delivery in autumn/winter this year. Scandinavian Film Distribution is attached as the Nordic distributor, with B-Plan taking care of the Finnish release.

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Up next is writer-director Christian Andersen’s sophomore feature, Unsinkable (Denmark). The feature is based on a true event that unfolded in northern Denmark in 1981, when the sinking of the rescue boat RF2 during one of its first missions resulted in the loss of nine lives. Interestingly, the project was shot on location, involving local extras and witnesses to the 1981 tragedy. It’s also a deeply intimate story, as the helmer’s mother lost her husband, the father of his older brothers. The script was penned by Oscar winner Martin Strange-Hansen (the shorts This Charming Man and On My Mind). The main cast is made up of Sylvester Byde, Johanne Louise Schmidt, Anders Brinck Madsen, Sofie Torp, Iben Dorner, Esben Dalgaard and Henrik Birch.

The third film is Miia Tervo’s second feature, a quirky comedy-romance titled The Missile (Finland/Estonia), starring Oona Airola (The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Juho Kuosmanen
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]
) in the leading role. The actress recently snagged the Dragon Award for Best Acting at Göteborg. “The uniquely crafted mix of political satire, heartfelt comedy and kitchen-sink drama, rooted in Northern brevity and melancholy, is a tale about female self-empowerment around a geo- political ‘situation’,” explains Picture Tree International’s official press release. The picture was released on 2 February through the local arm of Aurora Studios, which is in charge of its Scandinavian distribution.

The fourth title is Sigurjon Kjartansson’s solid debut, Grand Finale (Iceland), which premiered on 26 January and outranked Hollywood blockbusters at the local box office. The plot revolves around a chamber orchestra working out of a rundown theatre in Reykjavík.

Meanwhile, Tiina Lymi’s Stormskerry Maja (Finland) chronicles the compelling saga of Maja and her family as they embark on a journey to the desolate and remote island of Stormskerry. The film is based on Anni Blomqvist’s novels, and the cast includes Thin Blue Line [+see also:
interview: Gizem Erdogan
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]
star Amanda Jansson as the lead, alongside Normal People thesps Linus Troedsson and Desmond Eastwood. Nordisk Film is in charge of its Scandinavian distribution.

“I wanted to share Stormskerry Maja’s box-office figures: the film has taken 151,000 admissions in 14 days, and we opened on 19 January. The drop for the second week was only 1.5%, and the movie keeps selling well. We assume it can easily make 300,000 admissions, but it also has the potential to reach even higher figures – anything between 400,000 and 500,000 admissions is realistic. And we are [talking about] a population of only 5.5 million,” Andreas Rothbauer, founder and co-managing director of Picture Tree International, tells Cineuropa.

The last two, buzzy titles on this year’s slate are German films – Alireza Golafshan’s Everything’s Fifty Fifty (co-produced with Italy) and Til Schweiger’s The Best Is Yet to Come. The former revolves around a family holiday revealing the cracks in a divorced couple’s parenting skills, whilst the latter is a comedy zooming in on two very different best friends who, after a shocking but false diagnosis, rediscover life again.

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