Created in collaboration with the embassies of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, as well as the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia and the Danish Cultural Institute in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, this is a panorama of a special kind of cinema that reflects the Nordic way of making films, telling a story, painting a picture, singing a song.
To some of us it’s exotic, to others – seems almost indecently cosy, but this cinematic experience is always deeply touching something very human inside of us. The North is truly much closer than one might think…

Life’s heaviest burden is to have nothing to carry. The film is based on movement by a closed mind.When Norwegian scientist Marie attends a seminar in Paris on the actual weight of a kilo, it is her own measurement of disappointment, grief and, not least, love, that ends up on the scale. Marie is forced to come to terms with how much a human life truly weighs and which measurements she intends to live by. The director Bent Hammer saw here an opportunity to further develop the type of poetic humor he used in Kitchen Stories (2003).

Stepping from the pages of Fredrik Backman’s international best-selling novel, Ove is the quintessential angry old man next door. An isolated retiree with strict principles and a short fuse, who spends his days enforcing block association rules that only he cares about, and visiting his wife’s grave, Ove has given up on life. However, an unlikely friendship develops with his boisterous new neighbors… What emerges is a heartwarming tale of unreliable first impressions and the gentle reminder that life is sweeter when it is shared.

A story of a young couple, the journalist Arvid Stjärnblom and Lydia Stille, who fall madly in love. They are both drawn to the dream of pure, great, and untainted love. Yet, the dream demands greater sacrifice than they could ever imagine. A passionate and fiery love story about the choices we have, the ones we don´t, the choices we make and the consequences that follow. This is an adaptation of Hjalmar Söderberg’s novel The Serious Game (1912) by the Swedish actress-turned-director Pernilla August whose creative life was previously closely linked with Ingmar Bergman and Bille August.

Eskil Vogt’s feature debut stars Ellen Dorrit Petersen as Ingrid, who has recently lost her sight. She retreats to the safety of her home, alone with her husband and her thoughts, but her deepest fears and repressed fantasies soon take over. Ingrid no longer cares about what is real if she can manage to visualize it. The director hopes that the story will tell a lot of different things about human beings, especially about their inner selves – all the strange, shameful, imaginative thoughts we all have, but which we often have a hard time sharing with others. Vogt and his team have a visual language that exists somewhere between reality and dream. This film just refuses to fade away in memory.

A personal story based on the director’s experience growing up in a small fishing village.Two teenage boys experience a turbulent summer. A story of brotherhood, self-acceptance, strength, and the importance of family. The village in Iceland is an environment full of contrasts, where the sun shines without rest during the summer and barely rises at all in winter. A place where the same things you love and give you freedom also tie you down. A place to discover how nature and people can be both amazingly beautiful and incredibly cruel.

The legends, myths, and destiny of the Skolt Sámi. Swiss writer Robert Crottet followed an enigmatic call he heard in a dream and went to Lapland in the 1930s. He was welcomed by the indigenous people of the Kola Peninsula and formed a friendship with Kaisa – storyteller, seeress, and singer of epic ballads. He continued to be a part of her life until the 70s. A couple of years ago, the filmmaker Katja Gauriloff, Kaisa’s great-granddaughter, obtained the unique footage filmed by Robert Crottet and his partner – photographer Enrique Méndez. This poetic documentary tells about the enormous spiritual wealth of people who were forced out of their ancestral homes…

It was the spring of 2013 when the old friend of the filmmaker Anne Regitze Wivel fell down his stairs and got a severe injury. This man is Per Kirkeby – the world-renowned Danish painter, poet, essayist, sculptor, graphic artist, and filmmaker. Not only has he lost his physical mobility, but also his ability to recognize colours, faces and even his own artwork. He struggles to return to his work while at the same time acknowledging his lack of progress. A story about the artist’s universe – marked by deep melancholy as well as astounding beauty; a story about a personal struggle, illusions and the meaning of life.

In 2010, Martha Nabwire and Niki Tsappos took part in the biggest international Street Dance Competition, Juste Debout in Paris. It was the first time ever two women became World Champions in Hip Hop. Both are born in Africa and live in Sweden, yet one of them was adopted by a Swedish family as a baby while the other only arrived in Europe at the age of 14. This film, shot during a 5-year period in numerous cities across the globe, depicts their love of dance – something they treat with pure honesty and that comes across in each and every move. A brilliant documentary about identity and finding the right path in life.

Cecilie Debell, making her debut as a director, reveals a deeply unusual and highly surprising family story – a hardcore adventure. It is just as serious as any look back at a childhood characterised by failure, loss, and chaos, however moving, funny and almost disarmingly vibrant. How to come to terms with the painful things in one’s life? Who are our parents as people? How did they turn us into the people we are? A cinematic epistle about tolerance in an age that sorely needs it. The performance artist Michael Richardt invites his mother to join him on a road trip. The encounters with old friends and sympathetic strangers give both mother and son something they were missing…

Southern Sami yoiks and blood. What happens to you if you cut all ties with your culture? Can you really become someone else? In the 1930s, Ella-Marja was sent to a boarding school for Sami children where they were taught to know their place, scientists from the State Institute for Racial Biology came to measure and photograph them naked, and speaking Sami, even just among themselves, resulted in beatings. In present day, she calls herself Christina and visits Lapland… This is the director’s declaration of love to those who left and stayed, a film about the dark pages of the Swedish history. Recommended by

Finnish writer-director continues his trilogy on refugees, which started with the award-winning tragicomedy Le Havre (2011). It is dedicated to film historian Peter von Bagh, the director of the Midnight Sun Film Festival, which the Kaurismäki brothers founded in 1986. When the authorities decline his claim for refugee status and make a decision to return the Syrian Khaled (Sherwan Haji) to the ruins of Aleppo, he decides to stay illegally in the country and disappears into the streets of Helsinki. There he meets, besides various types of racism, also pure kindness. A Finn Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen) finds him in the inner yard of his restaurant. For a moment life shows its sunnier side, but fate soon intervenes…

This year – the NORDIC HIGHLIGHTS programme opening film comes from Sweden! Power, masculinity, great success, deep tragedy, and myths. Harry Schein, the founder of the Swedish Film Institute, was one of the most influential cultural and media personalities in Sweden of the 60s and 70s. A documentary about an Austrian war refugee who ended up counting Ingmar Bergman and Olof Palme among his best friends. His yearning for change and fame demanded sacrifices. But Harry had nothing to lose. He had already lost everything – first and foremost his family and his trust in others… Among the interviewees are director Roy Andersson, legendary actresses Harriet Andersson and Liv Ullmann, Daniel Bergman, Ingmar Bergman’s son, Mårten Palme, Olof Palme’s son and many others.         Before the screening – Embassy of Sweden in Riga invites to a glass of lingonberry punch, some knäckebröd and to meet the film-makers. A small Q&A session is also planned after the screening.