Scandinavia Heads to Berlinale with 13 Films

Now that Sundance has concluded, all eyes turn next to Berlin, where the next film festival begins on February 15.

Over the course of the next two weeks, the full slate of offerings will be announced. Here is a look at the films from Scandinavia that are Berlinale-bound:

“Becoming Astrid”

When Astrid Lindgren was very young something happened that affected her profoundly, and this combination of both miracle and calamity came to shape her entire life. It was an event that transformed her into one of the most inspiring women of our age and the storyteller a whole world would come to love. This is the story of when a young Astrid, despite the expectations of her time and religious upbringing, decided to break free from society’s norms and follow her heart.

“The Guilty”

Alarm dispatcher and former police officer, Asger Holm, answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search for the woman and her kidnapper begins. With the phone as his only tool, Asger enters a race against time to save the endangered woman. But soon he realizes that he is dealing with a crime that is far bigger than he first thought.Alarm dispatcher and former police officer, Asger Holm, answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search for the woman and her kidnapper begins. With the phone as his only tool, Asger enters a race against time to save the endangered woman. But soon he realizes that he is dealing with a crime that is far bigger than he first thought.

“The 12th Man”

Above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway, the dramatic story of the young resistance fighter, Jan Baalsrud, unfolds. Jan is the only one, out of twelve resistance fighters to escape the Germans, but the Gestapo is on his heels. Jan’s moral fiber, incredible strength and his courageous countrymen keeps him alive. But when he seeks refuge in a mountain cave and ends up being trapped by a blizzard for two weeks all hope seems lost. Nevertheless, Jan is recovered, weak, frostbitten and barely alive, but one question remains; will he make it to neutral Sweden before the Germans find him.

“The Ash Lad—In the Hall of the Mountain King”

Espen “Ash Lad,” a poor farmer’s son, embarks on a dangerous quest with his brothers to save the princess from a vile troll known as the Mountain King – in order to collect a reward and save his family’s farm from ruin.

“That Time of Year”

This year at Katrine and Mads’ house the family will once again be united around Christmas Eve and on a traditional holiday like this, there has to be room for everyone; the divorced parents, the youngest sister and her new husband and not least the teenage daughter of the family, struggling to get her mother’s attention. Underneath the surface the explosion lurks as flammable as a dry spruce and when the truth starts to appear, the illusion of holiday peace, that we so deeply insist on, shatters.

“A Better Life”

As winter approaches in rural 1850s Denmark, an old farmer (JENS) and hisfamily face starvation. The harsh circumstances and with the prospect of yet another tough winter, Jens must make an unbearable choice. If the family is to survive he must settle an agreement with the wealthy farmer at the nearby farm and forsake his own moral and the most precious he owns, in an effort to secure them all a better life.

“Queen of Ice”

“Queen of Ice” is the true story of one of the world’s greatest athletes and the inventor of modern figure skating, who decides to go to Hollywood in 1936 to become a movie star. Her first film breaks the box office by selling the most tickets in the world in 1937. It is the story of a remarkable, iconic person who sacrificed everything to stay in the spotlight.

“The Quake”

In 1904 an earthquake of magnitude 5.4 on the Richter scale shook Oslo. The earthquake had its epicenter in the “Oslo Graben” which runs under the Norwegian capital. There are still smaller earthquakes happening in this area today. Geologists can not be sure, but there are signs that indicate that we can expect a major future earthquake in Oslo. When it comes – nobody can say with certainty. Maybe in 100 years, maybe in 10 years, maybe tomorrow.

“The House that Jack Built”

USA in the 1970s. We follow the highly intelligent Jack through 5 incidents and are introduced to the murders that define Jack’s development as a serial killer. We experience the story from Jack’s point of view. He views each murder as an artwork in itself, even though his dysfunction gives him problems in the outside world. Despite the fact that the final and inevitable police intervention is drawing ever near (which both provokes and puts pressure on Jack) he is – contrary to all logic – set on taking greater and greater chances. Along the way we experience Jack’s descriptions of his personal condition, problems and thoughts through a recurring conversation with the unknown Verge – a grotesque mixture of sophistry mixed with an almost childlike self-pity and in-depth explanations of, for Jack, dangerous and difficult maneuvers.


“Swoon” is the story about two rivaling amusement parks in a raging feud. Gröna Lund is the respected and bourgeois alternative in contrast to Nöjesfältet across the alley that offers cheap beer, strippers and run-down attractions. The two families, ruling their miniature nations of rides, fortune wheels and cotton candy are determined to destroy one another when their young heirs Ninni and John unexpectedly fall in love. In the shadow of the Second World War the conflict escalates between the families in a magical and swirling tale of war, treachery and forbidden love.

“Finding Home”

“Finding Home” tells the story of 15-year-old Marie and her two younger siblings who live in an orphanage. Their father is a sailor and has not been home for three years. Everyone except Marie thinks he is dead. One day as Marie gets a clue that her father has been seen alive Marie flees the orphanage, cuts off her long hair, disguises herself as a boy and embarks on a long and dramatic journey on the freight ship “Hope” to search for her father and reunite her family.

“A Fortunate Man”

On his quest for happiness, Per decides to leave Jutland and an upbringing in a strict religious home. He runs from his family and his patriarch father, and sets sail towards Copenhagen to become an engineer. Parallel to his studies, he works on a visionary energy project based on wind and wave energy, a project so much ahead of its time, tha professors consider him insane and far too self-confident. However, Per’s project becomes a succes and he marries the beautiful Jakobe who is a part of a wealthy Jewish family. One would imagine that Per’s happiness now is made. But Per’s childhood keeps haunting him and his dogmatic family cannot accept his new life. Despite his luck and success, Per is unable to fully cut the strings to his strict religious background, and he now fears that he will repeat his father’s patriarchist behavior.


Erik, a surfer-bum who hasn’t seen his identical twin Adam, a successful businessman with a picture-perfect family, for 17 years. When Erik loses everything, he reaches out to Adam, only to be rejected. A quarrel breaks out between them and Ingrid, Adam’s wife, accidentally kill Adam. To cover the crime and to save his brother’s family, Erik takes over Adam’s identity.

The Berlinale Festival runs from February 15-25.


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Written by Karen M. Peterson

Karen Peterson is a writer from Southern California. When she is not at the ballpark cheering on her LA Angels, she can usually be found in a movie theater or in front of the television. Karen is obsessed with awards shows, and loves everything from the smallest indie film to the biggest of big budget spectacles. She is also unapologetically in love with Tom Cruise.

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