It’s exactly what you need. Escape the dreary month of November by taking refuge in a comfy cinema chair. Cuddle up next to a damn fine bucket of popcorn and take in the joys of art house cinema. The Stockholm Film Festival is back with a couple of weeks packed full of drama and personal stories.
The 27th edition of this prestigious festival has some prominent guests, led by legends Francis Ford Coppola and Ken Loach, who won the Palme d’Or in Cannes earlier this year with I, Daniel Blake.
The festival crew has spent the best part of the last 12 months scouring the planet to attract the cream of the crop when it comes to new and interesting films. All in all 200 films from around 60 countries will be on display and to hear a bit more about the impressive lineup we cornered George Ivanov, the festival’s program director, to get answers to some of our most pressing questions.
Could you talk us through this year’s edition of the festival? Do you have a theme running through it all, and is there something in particular you wish to put the spotlight on?
Our spotlight section this year is focused on the subject of identity, it’s a theme we’ve seen from a broad variety of perspectives in many of this year’s films. The topic is exciting and timely also because of the Elena Ferrante unwanted unmasking [the identity of the unknown Italian author who used the pseudonym Elena Ferrante was recently revealed by an investigative journalist] , which echoes the case in one of our most intriguing films, Author: The JT LeRoy Story.
You not only have Ken Loach visiting the festival this year but also Francis Ford Coppola, how important is this for the festival?
It’s absolutely vital and extremely humbling to have the grand masters of American and European film from the last 50 years present in Stockholm.
What do you think signifies Stockholm’s festival and distinguish it from other film festivals?
When a festival like Cannes bring in directors they are sealed off from the general public, if you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse from the red carpet. In Stockholm you have the opportunity to meet with the greatest filmmakers in the universe and discuss cinema with them.
The film festival program always feels fantastic and always seems to be hyped up. Do you ever feel that the current year in film is better or worse than other years? This must obviously make its mark on the festival as well, so how does this year’s instalment keep up with its predecessors?
You can absolutely feel that it’s a better or worse year, and it does influence the festival, but with so many new films, it takes a long time before you can tie the two together. Before and during the festival it always feel like it’s the best year ever. Maybe it always is, but possibly not. You cannot really tell until you get a bit of perspective much later.
Of all the festivals you have been involved in, could you give us the one film that has resonated with you more than any other?
Impossible – each one is unique and special in it’s own way.
And finally, on a personal level, do you remember the moment, and the film, that made you understand the power of the medium and sparked your interest?
When I was about five years old, my first cinematic experience was Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. It just blew my mind.
George Ivanov’s five picks from this year’s Stockholm Film Festival:
Apocalypse Now presented by Mr Coppola:
One of cinemas great’s masterpieces presented by the godfather of modern film making, Coppola took film from the safety of the studio lot to the grim reality of war.
I Daniel Blake By Ken Loach:
European film in its most acute and masterful form by a revolutionary director.
Godless by Ralitza Petrova:
A pitch-black punch to the gut, a contemporary eastern noir from my birth country Bulgaria.
500M800M by Yao Tian:
Poetic and politically-charged drama with striking visuals.
Park by Sofia Exarchou:
Sensitive, yet raw, a stand-out debut.