Hej! Scandinavia at International House

The film portion of I-House’s celebration of Scandinavian culture is quickly approaching and we couldn’t be more excited.  Schedule is below, all films are more than worthy of your time…

Saturday, April 21 at 2pm
Zero Kelvin
dir. Hans Petter Moland, Norway, 1995, 35mm, 135 mins, color, Norwegian w/ English subtitles

Visually stunning and psychologically intense, Zero Kelvin is a one-of-a-kind achievement, an existential thriller played out against the bleakly beautiful landscapes of Greenland. The ensemble cast includes some of Scandinavia’s top stars and a tour-de-force performance by the great Stellan Skarsgård. Henrik Larsen (Gard B Eidsvold) is a young writer living in Oslo, Norway, who looks to broaden his horizons with travel and adventure. He leaves behind his girlfriend (Camilla Martens) and joins a fur-trapping expedition that includes himself and two enigmatic men – a sailor Randbæk (Skarsgård) and a scientist Holm (Bjørn Sundquist). The cunning, vulgar Randbæk soon becomes Larsen’s nemesis and the writer must use all of his strength and wit to survive in a physical and psychological wilderness. Cut off from civilization, the men face the elements and each other with increasing difficulty, leading to a violent and harrowing climax.

A psychological thriller set in the context of a tense story of survival, Hans Petter Moland’s Zero Kelvin is the rare exception to the genre – a thinking person’s adventure film.

Saturday, April 21 at 5pm
Songs from the Second Floor

dir. Roy Anderson, Sweden/France/Denmark, 2000, 35mm, 98 mins, color, Swedish w/ English subtitles

One evening somewhere in our hemisphere, a strange series of illogical events take place: a clerk is made redundant in a degrading manner; a lost immigrant is violently attacked in a busy street; a magician makes a terrible error in his act. Sleep on this night does not come easily to the citizens of this town. The following day, the signs of chaos are taking hold as the madness grips a board of directors and the city itself is strangled by a horrendous traffic jam.

In the midst of this mayhem, one person stands out. Karl – covered in soot from the fire he had set to burn down his furniture store in order to get the insurance money. While the new millennium is casting its web and creating a vast mental breakdown, Karl gradually becomes conscious of the absurdity of the world and realizes just how difficult it is to be human.

Saturday, April 21 at 7pm
The Silence

dir. Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1963, 35mm, 95 mins, b/w, Swedish w/ English subtitles

Two sisters – the sickly, intellectual Ester and the sensual, pragmatic Anna – travel by train with Anna’s son Johan to a foreign country seemingly on the brink of war. To cope with their surroundings, the sisters resort to their personal vices while vying for Johan’s affection, and in so doing sabotage any hope for a future together. Regarded as one of the most sexually provocative films of its day, Ingmar Bergman’s The Silence offers a brilliant, disturbing vision of emotional isolation in a suffocating spiritual void.

Sunday, April 22 at 5pm
The Mill and the Cross

dir. Lech Maiewski, 2011, Poland/Sweden, 35mm, 95 mins, color

The newest offering from Lech Majewski, one of Europe’s most acclaimed filmmakers, is a visually inspired restaging of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s epic 1564 painting The Way to Calvary. Combining a large re-creation of Breugel’s canvas (painted by Majewski), footage of actors and blue screen work, the viewer feels that they are simultaneously in the living, breathing naturalistic world that Majewski has created and the not-quite-static artificial world of the painting (the mill’s sails turn, ravens fly). Defying the parameters of conventional cinematic time and space, Majewski conjured a 16th-century equivalent of virtual reality. With Rutger Hauer as Breugel, Michael York as his patron Nicolaes Jonghelinck and Charlotte Rampling as the Virgin Mary.

The word ‘film’ seems inadequate to describe Lech Majewski’s The Mill and the Cross. Each scene is rendered like a brushstroke. – Lauren Wissot, Slant Magazine.

Sunday, April 22 at 7pm
Open Hearts

dir. Susanne Bier, Denmark, 2002, 35mm, 113 mins, color, Danish w/ English subtitles

When Joachim carelessly steps into the path of a speeding car driven by Marie, fate in the form of a sudden accident brings together two happy couples – the long married Marie and Niels and just engaged Cecilie and Joachim. With his guilt-ridden wife’s misguided encouragement, Niels offers comfort to Cecilie, and his altruistic gesture quickly develops into a messy affair. Intricate and emotionally complex, Open Hearts tracks moment-to-moment shifts in tone and captures characters at their best and worst with a Cassavetes-like authenticity and a Renoiresque lack of easy moral judgment. Going a step beyond previous Dogme 95 efforts, Open Hearts successfully integrates art-film subjectivity into the more familiar verité approach.

One of Denmark’s leading directors of the last decade, Susanne Bier previously specializes in comedy, and her deft touch, together with the witty screenplay by Anders Thomas Jensen, counterpoints the plot’s tragic circumstances with flashes of romantic comedy, not as a sign of callousness but as a candid recognition of the irrepressible resilience of the human heart. The movie takes two strands of soap opera convention – a life-changing accident and an adulterous affair – and spins their suds into gold.

Official site.

Author: Eric Bresler

Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.

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