Festival receives a record 1,500 submissions.

Heartbeats, by 21-year-old Canadian shooting star Xavier Dolan (I Killed My Mother), will open the Stockholm Internation Film Festival (Nov 17-28). 175 films from 51 countries will be screened in this 21st installment of the festival, known for championing relatively unestablished film talents from around the world.

Festival Director Git Scheynius described this year’s edition of the festival as its biggest enterprise so far.

”We’ve seen a record 1500 submissions this year, a hundred or so more than last year. That’s very stimulating and shows that we’re popular among film-makers,” she told ScreenDaily.com.

Among her favorite themes in this year’s festival, Scheynius mentions the ”Latin Visions” section and the ”Spotlight” section focusing on extreme politics world-wide.

Recepient of the Stockholm Lifetime Achievement Award will be Swedish actress Harriet Andersson, perhaps best known for her pivotal performances in Bergman classics such as Cries and Whispers and Summer with Monika. As previously announced, the Stockholm Visionary Award will go to Gus Van Sant. Here, a special screening introduced by the director will be accompanied by masterclasses for film students and an exhibition at Fotografiska, ”One Step Big Shot”, showing Van Sant’s early screen test polaroids of actor such as John Travolta, Nicole Kidman and Keanu Reeves (Nov 11-Dec 5).

Eighteen films will compete for the Bronze Horse, including the much-talked-about Romanian-Swedish prison drama If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, Alicia Duffy’s feature film debut All Good Children, Vietnamese childhood depiction Bi, Don’t Be Afraid, Swedish duo Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson’s ”musical cop movie” Sound of Noise, Gareth Edwards’ post-acocalyptic Monsters, and Our Day Will Come starring Vincent Cassel and directed by French-Greek director icon Costa Gavras’ son Roman Gavras.

The films In ”Open Zone”, the festival’s section for more well-established film-makers, include Bertrand Blier’s Clink of Ice, Ken Loach’s Route Irish, Cemetery Junction by omnipresent comedy duo Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant and Ben Affleck’s directorial debut The Town, plus new films from Swedish directors Mikael Håfström ( Shanghai), Tova Magnusson (Fyra år till) and Måns Mårlind/Björn Stein (Shelter, starring Julianne Moore).

The younger Affleck brother, Casey, is one of the key names in the ”American Independents” section, with I’m Still Here, a portrait of brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix. Also selected here are Greg Araki’s Kaboom, Rob Epstein’s Howl and uncomfortable mumblecore comedy Cyrus, starring Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and John C Reilly.

The ”Documania” section includes selections such as Sarah Bertrand’s Oliver Stone portrait Rolling with Stone, Stephen Alex Vasquez’s The Electro Wars,Bhutto, on the influential Pakistani family, and two films, Countdown to Zero and Wasteland, both by Lucy Walker, who will also host one of this year’s master classes.

The ”Latin Visions” section showcases some of the best films from the Spanish and Southamerican film world. Noteworthy here are Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful and Julio Hernandez Cordon’s Marimbas from Hell. 

This year’s ”Spotlight” section takes a look at the many faces of extreme politics. The selected films includes Chris Morris’s political satire Four Lions, The Last Circus, cult director Álex de la Iglesia’s ultraviolent allegory on Spanish history, Andrej Ujica’s The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceauşescu and twofold Cannes winner Of Gods and Men. The festival will also arrange a seminar on political extremism in contemporary cinema, featuring Chris Morris, Romain Gavras, Erik Gandini and, documentary duo Moa Junström and Ingrid Holmberg of Actually, We Don’t Really Care About Midsummer (Vi bryr oss egentligen inte om midsommar), a close look at the Swedish Democrats, the xenophobic populist party that got 5,7% of the votes in this fall’s election to parliament.