The winning Sarajevo DJ team at the Nordic Party in 2019

Source: Screen file

The winning Sarajevo DJ team at the Nordic Party in 2019

The festivals’ DJ competition at the Nordic Party makes a welcome return tonight in Cannes after a three-year hiatus.

Teams from Berlinale, CPH:DOX, Karlovy vary, Les Arcs & Tribeca (combined), Rotterdam and Sarajevo – plus a team from the Scandinavia House in Cannes – will each get a chance to play a three-song set to impress the crowds on the dancefloor as well as the judges to take the top honour of best DJ team of the night.

The winner gets bragging rights, a novelty Viking hat, and the chance to judge next year’s competition.

The invitation-only social event is organised by the and Goteborg’s Nordic Film Market and Haugesund’s New Nordic Films, with the five Nordic film institutes and the Nordic film commissions.

“It’s about people connecting and seeing each other,” said Gyda Myklebust of Haugesund’s New Nordic Films. “You have directors, sales agents, programmers, and everybody is dancing together.” The party was so missed during COVID they did a Zoom version in 2020. 

Other than drinks and networking opportunities, the main attraction at the party is the competition of DJs representing 8 different international film festivals.

Swedish filmmaker Ruben Ostlund previously DJ’d at the party (back with Play in 2011), and organisers say he’s welcome to come play some tunes if he has a break from jury duties.

The in-house regular DJ Nina also gets people on the dancefloor between festival slots. Goteborg’s Cia Edstrom and Camilla Larsson will support her under their own DJ moniker Ladies of Steel.

The winners are determined by who the judges decide gets people moving the most on the dancefloor – a later slot can help as the crowd is more into the spirit (and spirits).

Sarajevo’s winning trio of songs from 2019 included Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” and The Prodigy’s “No Good.”

Longtime programmer Frederic Boyer, who leads the DJ team for Les Arcs/Tribeca (and previously won in 2017) has some first-hand knowledge about what creates a winning combination. He tells Screen, “Rarely play a tune you are the only one to know, it’s risky. Never play a tune which was used the previous year. Never try the easiest choices: “Lust For Life” by Iggy Pop or “Le Freak” by Chic will not bring you to victory. A good dancer in your team is a bonus (we don’t have one).”

Mykkelburst advises her non-professional DJ friends to choose “songs with a lot of rhythm.” She adds, “Part of the DJ’s job is to support the songs and make the crowd dance. They can use props. They also have a digital banner where they can promote a message.”