At a time when Nordic and especially Danish films are in the public eye: the Danish Berlin winner Italian For Beginners, the pan-Nordic Palme d'Or winner Dancer In The Dark as well as Swedish hit comedies Jalla! Jalla! and Together, it is appropriate that the Toronto International Film Festival has decided to spotlight Nordic cinema in 2001. The programme, titled 'Nordic Visions: Recent Films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden' will feature some 15 titles.

"For years, people have associated Nordic cinema with dark, psychological chamber dramas," says Steve Gravestock, National Cinema Programmer. "What's amazing about the recent work coming from these five countries is the radical way many of the younger filmmakers explode this assumption. Their work is brash, and slyly funny, even when dealing with the darkest issues imaginable. There's a dizzying array of filmmakers coming from this region, ranging from absurdly talented, populist neophytes to internationally established, young directors to veterans whose integrity and skill is evident in every frame of their work."

The programme will also look at the impact of Dogme 95, the back-to-basics manifesto fathered by Lars von Trier, which has inspired filmmakers around the globe. It will explore how a particular film community has managed to simultaneously maintain a cinematic tradition and expand a film culture.

In earlier years the Toronto International Film Festival has featured many of Scandinavia's most accomplished and up-and-coming directors. In 1988, Finnish brothers Aki and Mika Kaurismäki were featured in the Director's Spotlight, and only last year Icelandic actor-director Baltasar Kormákur won the Volkswagen Discovery Award for his feature debut 101 Reykjavik. The 26th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 6-15, 2001.