Audience expected to exceed 200,000 at the largest Scandinavian showcase.

At the opening ceremony tonight (Jan 28), the Göteborg International Film Festival – Scandinavia’s largest showcase, with an audience exceeding 200,000 – is not only launching the Dragon competition with $145,000 (SEK 1 million) for the winner; it is also presenting Göteborg’s Big Film Award for a local feature.
Swedish director Andreas Ôhmann received a more modest $7,800 (SEK 50,000) for Best Swedish Film: Simple Simon (I rymden finns inga känslor), which missed the national Guldbagge, but was shortlisted for an Oscar nomination and took more than 270,000 admissions domestically.
Eight features will compete for larger check given to Best Nordic Feature, another eight are considered for Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award. US Oscar-winning scriptwriter and director Charlie Kaufman makes his first visit to Sweden, he will receive Göteborg’s new Honorary Dragon Award.
To festival director Åsa Bernlo, the 2011 showcase is very special: it will be her last, after heading the event for six years. Bernlo has been headhunted by Book & Library to set up the new Media Days in Göteborg, and her successor is yet to be named. During her 17 years in the organisation, the festival has grown by 40%.
After this year’s programme of 442 films from 76 countries was published, ten films from the selection have been nominated for an Oscar. Artistic director Marit Kapla has further added three screenings of US director David O Russell’s The Fighter, the Mark Wahlberg-Christan Bale starrer, which received seven noms.
Another festival extra is the screening of Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s Offside (2006), in support of Panahi and his colleague Mohammad Rasoulof, both sentenced to six years in prison, and Panahi banned from working in 20 years. A symbolic guest of honour at this year’s Cannes, Panahi visited the Göteborg fest in 2007.
Between Feb 3-6 more than 220 international film and television executives will attend the 12th Nordic Film Market, which (with Haugesund’s New Nordic Films at the Norwegian International Film Festival in August) unspools new films from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland as well as works-in-progress.
This year market director Cia Edström has scheduled 15 finished productions and 13 on-the-way, including Swedish directors Kjell Sundvall’s The Hunters (Jägarna) sequel, Ella Lemhagen’s The Crown Jewels (Kronjuvelerna), and Icelandic director Árni Óli Ásgeirsson’s Brim.
Also Norwegian director Marius Holst’s King of Devil’s Island (Kongen af Bastøy), his compatriot Morten Tyldum’s Headhunters (Hodejegerne); Martin Pieter Zandvliet’s A Funny Man (Dirch), Henrik Ruben Genz’s In Heat (Bevar mig vel) from Denmark; Finnish director Olli Saarela’s Priest of Evil (Harjunpää ja pahan pappi).
“Besides being very professional, well-structured and one of my favourites, the timing of the market is perfect,” said Rikke Ennis, ceo of leading Nordic sales company, Denmark’s TrustNordisk. “We can test new titles prior to Berlin, and buyers prefer to see them here so they can spend their time in Berlin on others.
“The Strongest part of the programme is the works-in-progress – early with the latest news - which is also the reason why it attracts so many international festival programmers. Göteborg is the ideal start of a new festival year, and to us a wonderful place to hang out with producers and clients.”
“The advantage here, as with Haugesund, is that the buyers have a 100% focus on films from the Nordic countries since nothing else is being shown. And to intercontinental travelers, it is a convenient stop-over before Berlin,” added sales chief Michael Werner, of Sweden’s NonStop Sales. The company has Norwegian director Stian Kristiansen’s I Travel Alone (Jeg reiser alene) in the market.
Also, Göteborg’s sixth Meeting Point Television (Feb 23) will focus on cross/transmedia, converging media, 360 formats, online strategies and target groups, with US producer Steve Stark (The Event) among keynote speakers.