Gothenburg International Film Festival Concludes: ‘50/50 × 2020 Pledge for Gender Parity’


The 42nd edition of Gothenburg (Göteborg) International Film Festival (GIFF) concluded on Monday, 4 February 2019 with the final screening of the movie ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ loosely based on the classic novel of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. The adventure-comedy took almost three decades to bring the movie to the screens.

Short movies: Directors are recognised and honoured

The lead sponsor of the festival was Volvo the vehicle manufacturer whose headquarters is in Gothenburg, the main sponsors were UPS and Scandic RUBINEN, and many others were partners and contributors of the festival in many other ways.

QUEEN OF HEARTS: Queen of Hearts, directed by May el-Toukhy, won the Dragon Award for Best Nordic Film presented along with one million Swedish kronor (the world’s largest film prize). The presenting partner for the competition is Volvo Car Group along with the Västra Götaland Region and the City of Gothenburg. Queen of Hearts explores the life of a middle-aged woman’s moral and sexual forces that exist within an apparently well-functioning family. The Dragon Award for Best Acting went to Trine Dyrholm for the role of Anne in Queen of Hearts. The Dragon Award for Best Nordic Documentary went to Anna Eborn for the film Transnistra, and also SEK 250,000.The Dragon Award for Best International Film was won by ‘Giant Little Ones’ by Keith Behrman.

INITIATIVE FOR GENDER EQUALITY IN FILM & TELEVISION: During the eleven day festival, 25th January – 4 February 2019, an agreement was signed by Gothenburg Film Festival’s CEO, Mirja Wester and the festival’s artistic director, Jonas Holmberg that aims to see gender parity and inclusion in film festivals: 50/50 x2020. A similar agreement was signed at last year’s Cannes – an agreement where film festivals subscribe to striving for equality: men and women are equally represented. During the festival a collaboration called 10% for 50/50 was announced which means a 10% discount on technology and services for films that have 50% of women in a film production and for this a number of companies in many European countries have signed and one among them in Sweden is Chimney.

“We are after 50/50 by 2020. Equal means equal.”

During the festival more than 400 films from more than 80 countries were screened. Mirja Wester told that she is satisfied with the festival’s outcome, and signing up for the agreement 50×50 by 2020. The festival was attended by the organisers of film festivals from Berlin and Vladivostok among others in order to learn some lessons in terms of selection and screening of movies to managing the events without any untoward incident but bringing out geographical diversity of films, gender issues, aesthetics and arts to the forefront of audience.

Mirja Wester and Jonas Holmberg at the official conclusion party with national, transnational and international guests


NOSTRADAMUS REPORT 2019: The Nostradamus report is produced by the Nordic Film Market and published by GIFF & Lindholmen Science Park and it was released at the film festival. The report is a compilation of interviews with industry experts and ‘aims to sketch out the future of screen industries 3-5 years from now, through interviews with industry experts and research’ and edited by Johanna Koljonen. The key findings of the report are:

Fateful times for public funding: Shortage of funding by government institutions (public film funding) are likely to happen due to ‘increasing political influence of populist and ultra-nationalist parties’. The report warns: ‘The industry needs to consider how to priortise among publicly funded support structures when cuts become necessary. Audiovisual storytelling takes an active role in the defence of liberal democracy and a habitable planet.’

Streaming shapes the landscape: The report predicts the dominance of large companies in the Video-on-Demand (VoD) landscape and cautions the traditional film and television players ‘to face what it means to have competition that cannot be outspent’. And, also opportunities for the traditional film and television industry as there will be ‘new opportunities for independent film and smaller languages’.

Cinema in the total value chain: The good news is there will be cinema halls and one can watch a movie in a theatre ‘if exhibitors are willing to find meaningful alliances all along the value chain’. The report predicts that ‘not every title will have a traditional theatrical release’.

Reboot the conversation: The impact of technology on audiovisual storytelling is inevitable and the sector has to come to terms with it. The report says: ‘In parts of the audiovisual sector where the relationship is fraught, production is efficient and the relationship to the audience closer. Going forward, those who view new technologies and ways of working as tools rather than threats will win out.’

Virtual Reality (VR) finds its path: The report identifies VR is emerging from filmmaking as a distinct medium. The report says: ‘Its storytelling grammar is developing fast, but even for professionals access to the best work is limited. When breakthroughs are not disseminated, artistic development slows.’ Importantly, the report alerts the policy makers and industry to reflect about ethical questions the VR sector poses such as ‘related to embodied storytelling, and to the capture of biometric data’.

ACTIVISM AT THE FESTIVAL: The activists fighting against climate change praised the GIFF for choosing apocalypse as the theme of this year’s film festival (a reaction to existential threat). The environmental activists distributed fliers (pamphlets) alerting the audience at some arenas of the festival that the climate change happened and is happening. ‘The climate crisis can be solved! We already see the effects of the climate crisis here and now. Fires in the Swedish forests, algae blooms and record low groundwater levels are just a first warning. The water shortage and drought have hit hard on Swedish agriculture. It will get worse when the earth’s average temperature continues to rise.’

During one of the seminars of GIFF, a member in the audience asked the Swedish director and actress Tuva Novotny about the racial discrimination in the industry and how to come to terms with it. Tuva answered.

Tuva Novotny on discrimination

NEXT YEAR, 2020: The 43rd edition of Gothenburg International Film Festival will begin on the last Friday of January 2020.

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