Swedish Filmmakers in Focus of My First Film Section

Zagreb Film Festival has a permanent focus on debut films, not only in its main competition, but also in its ongoing special programs. Debut features by today’s renowned directors from different European cinemas are the focus of the My First Film section, and this year they come from Sweden. For the 15th edition of Zagreb Film Festival, film critic Nenad Polimac cherry-picked the debut films by some of the most important Swedish directors like Ruben Östlund, one of the most intriguing directors of today, Lukas Moodysson, Josef Fares, the veteran director Roy Andersson, as well as the indisputably greatest icon of Swedish cinema – Ingmar Bergman.

The Guitar Mongoloid, a 2004 dark humoured drama, marks the very beginning of Ruben Östlund’s film career. This famous Swedish director, writer and editor’s latest film The Sqaure this year won the Palme d’Or in Cannes. His debut frenetic pseudo-documentary already outlines his recurring interest in all the idiosyncrasies of the human psyche and a resistance to the norms of classical cinematic narrative, which made the film already an iconic classic.

The film Jalla! Jalla! by Lebanese-Swedish director Josef Fares is one of the most popular films in the history of this cinema. A comedy about the emotional dramas of two friends resulting from the strict rules of the traditional culture they originate from, became such a hit among the Swedish audience that its director became a huge celebrity in his country at one 23 years of age. Once a refugee and a migrant, Fares is now part of the history of the prestigious Institute of Drama in Stockholm, whose youngest student ever he became in 1998.

Fucking Åmål by Lukas Moodysson, a director known for his socially engaged films and one of the most prominent representatives of the so-called ultra-realist poetics of the late 1990s. is a modern tale of funny and painful aspects of growing up, pleasure and first love suffering, as well as finding the courage to be different. Fucking Åmål earned Moodysson a series of honours, including the Teddy Award in Berlina and the Jury Special Mention and Audience Award in Karlovy Vary.

A cheerful romantic coming-of-age drama about generation gap, A Swedish Love Story, has been very often by critics one of the finest Swedish films of all times. The film scored an amazing commercial success and brought fame to its director Roy Andersson. This peculiar director was characterised by a juvenile rebellion against the exaggerated, undisputed authority of Ingmar Bergman, as well as the fact that after this second, quite unsuccessful film Giliap he quit filmmaking for 25 years. He made a major comeback with Songs from the Second Floor and You, the Living. His film A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence was screened at ZFF in 2014.

Ingmar Bergman was considered one of the most influential authors in the history of film and a master of psychological film. Already in his debut film Crisis he outlined some of his later recurring motifs, primarily a focus on female relationships, which he would later brilliantly analyse in the films Persona and Cries and Whispers.