Scandinavians strut their stuff in Rotterdam
by Boyd van Hoeij
Go with Peace Jamil [+see also:
interview: Meta Louise Foldager
interview: Omar Shargawi
film profile] and The King of Ping Pong [+see also:
film profile] are the two Scandinavian films in the Tiger Competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, currently underway. Both films premiered there this weekend. And both films are debut features from northern Europe, but all similarities end there.
Go with Peace Jamil from Danish-Palestinian actor-turned-director Omar Shargawi tells the story of two small warring factions of Muslims in Denmark caught in a never-ending cycle of vengeance during a sweltering summer.
Using the direct, Dogma-like approach on both the visual and narrative levels (the script was written by the director and Mogens Rukov, who co-wrote The Celebration), the film has some great acting and is noteworthy for being almost entirely spoken in Arabic and for discarding immigration issues in favour of a story set in a closed yet deeply divided community. The Zentropa production is sold by Trust Film Sales.
Swedish Tiger entry The King of Ping Pong is almost the polar opposite of Shargawi’s film, fully exploiting its wintertime locales and focussing not on immigrants but on the quirky locals – with more than a whiff of Roy Andersson though the narrative is relatively straightforward.
In the Bob Film Sweden production, two young brothers – the rotund, dark-haired Rille (Jerry Johansson) and lanky blonde Erik (Hampus Johansson) – try to get by as well as they can, an often-absent and alcoholic father and a large (in all senses of the word) mother hen notwithstanding. The result is a bleak yet droll film that clearly inscribes itself in the Scandinavian tradition of the tragicomedy.
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