24 January, 2012
by Sandy Mandelberger, North America Editor
It is now pretty clear that Vikings made landfall in North America several centuries before Columbus collided with the West Indies. If they had colonized the land, we would all be blonds and speaking Norwegian. Such, my children, are the vagaries of history. Well a new invasion from the Scandinavian nation is about to commence at the Sundance Film Festival, where a strong sampling of films from Norway, Sweden and Denmark are literally making waves. Denmark is represented with the highest number in the group, with such North American premieres as the narrative feature TEDDY BEAR, directed by Mads Matthiesen, which tells the story of a painfully shy 38-year-old bodybuilder who lives with his mother and sets off to Thailand in search of love; ½ REVOLUTION by co-directors Omar Shargawi and Karim El Hakim, in which the two filmmakers capture the reality of the Egyptian revolution as it occurred out of view from the world’s media in the alleyways and streets away from the square – and in the process were arrested by the secret police; THE AMBASSADOR by documentarian Mads Brügger in which he portrays a very white European man who buys his way into being a diplomat in one of Central Africa’s most failed nations; PUTIN’S KISS by director Lise Birk Pedersen, which profiles 19-year-old Marsha, a model spokesperson in a strongly nationalistic Russian youth movement that aims to protect the country from its enemies; and SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN by director Malik Bendjelloul, the true story of a 1970s rock icon who disappeared into oblivion under mysterious circumstances.
From Sweden comes the documentary BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS! from director Fredrik Gertten, which offers a behind-the-scenes story of a full-scale attack on freedom of speech, when the Dole Fruit Company set out to attack a film company that has brought some ugly truths to the screen about the company. Norway is represented by OSLO, AUGUST 31, an intense yet intimate drama of a drug addict’s attempt to go sober, poignantly directed by Festival favorite Joachim Trier. Scandinavian short films are scattered throughout the program, offering further evidence of the continued strength of Scandinavian cinema and the emergence of a new generation of film auteurs.