When Sweden's leading film event, the Gothenburg Film Festival, opened its box office earlier this month, business was brisk. It sold a record 30,000 tickets on its first day - including all the tickets to opening film Cold Light by Hilmar Oddsson as well as several other screenings.
Not a bad start for the 11-day showcase, which kicks off today (Jan 23) with 213 features and documentaries including all the local films released in 2003.
Swedish culture minister Marita Ulvskog will open the 27th edition of the festival. However, a last minute cancellation from Wim Wenders means that he will not be presenting the screening of one of the highlights, the entire seven-part The Blues project directed by Martin Scorsese, Wenders, Mike Figgis, Clint Eastwood, Marc Levin, Richard Pearce and Charles Burnett. The latter will attend along with producer Alex Gibney.
The festival will also have special focuses on new films from Italy, Argentina, Iran and Cuba as well as one on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The festival has attracted a number of filmmakers. This year's guest list includes Roger Michell (The Mother), who will also participate in a Script Factory and a Master Class, Pen-ek Ratanuarang (Last Life In The Universe), Julie Bertuccelli (Since Otar Left), Aisling Walsh (Song For A Raggy Boy), Christoffer Boe (Reconstruction), Manish Jha (Nation Without Women) and Andrei Zvyagintsev, who's multiple-award winner The Return wraps the event on Feb 1.
On Jan 26, the festival hosts the Swedish film awards, Guldbagga, which brings the entire Swedish film industry to the city.
Eight new Nordic features compete for the Nordic Film Award, including two newcomers, Hilmar Oddsson's Icelandic Cold Light and J-P Siili's Finnish Young Gods, three new Swedish films, Teresa Fabik's Hip Hip Hora!, Thomas Alfredson's Four Shades Of Brown and Carl Johan De Geer's Hiding Behind The Camera, as well as two Danish entries, Anders Oestergaard's documentary Tintin Et Moi and Hans Fabian Wullenweber's Gemini and Gunnar Hall Jensen's unusual Norwegian documentary Gunnar Goes Comfortable.
The Nordic Event market for new Nordic films runs from Jan 29 - Feb 1 and includes screenings of brand new titles like Petter Naess' Norwegian Just Bea, Richard Hobert's Three Suns and Mika Kaurismaki's Honey Baby.
The 2003 edition of the festival had an impressive 112, 300 admissions, but based on the huge early interest, 2004 just might beat that result.