Göteborg Film Festival is the largest film festival in the Nordic countries. lasting 10 days and featuring nearly 450 films from some 80 countries. Here we highlight the films from the UK that are being shown at this year's event. 

1917

British acting elite impress in this fiercely exciting war portrayal by Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road). Oscar nominations are clearly on their way.

In the bloody trenches of the First World War, two British soldiers – Schofield and Blake – are given an impossible mission. They must cross enemy lines to give warning and keep hundreds of compatriots from walking straight into death. 1917 is a film masterpiece designed as if it were shot in one take, which forcefully increases its intensity. The cinematographic fireworks are brilliant, but what makes 1917 a truly engrossing film to be compared with classics in the genre is Mendes’s ability to not lose sight of the characters in it all. George MacKay, in the role as Schofield, carries the film on his shoulders in what might well be the breakthrough of the year.

Language: English

Subtitles: Swedish

Breaking the Waves

Deeply religious Scot falls in love with an oil rig worker in von Trier’s masterpiece that brought the world to tears and became Stellan Skarsgård’s big international breakthrough.

With Breaking the Waves, Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson became one of film history’s most memorable loving couples. The film was awarded with the Grand Prix at Cannes and is about the shy Bess who lives in a strict religious fishing society in the far north of Scotland. She meets the Scandinavian Jan, who works on the oil platform out at sea, and even if their love seems impossible, they get married. When Jan is on the oil rig, Bess prays to God that he will return. Her prays are heard, but not at all in the way she intended. In the raw and beautiful hand-held camera shots, Watson and Skarsgård invigorate this love story with all the devotion, power and passion that makes Breaking the Waves a completely unforgettable film experience.

Language: English

No subtitles

A Bump Along the Way

A single 44-year-old mother is trying her best to raise her teenage daughter properly, but ends up with a bun in the oven herself after an impulsive one night stand in this charming rom-com from Northern Ireland.

Pamela works hard to provide a good upbringing for her daughter Ally after the father left. In spite of hardships, Pamela is an incurable optimist who enjoys a night of fun. To cap a drunken night, she ends in bed with a young man whose name she quickly forgets. Ally is used to her mother embarrassing her but the unexpected pregnancy is hard to handle, and for Pamela the new situation means additional financial and moral dilemmas. In her directorial debut, Shelly Love presents a refreshing portrait of a charming mother-daugher relationship, turning the amorous entanglement into a heart-warming comedy with lots to say about conservatism in Northern Ireland.

Language: English

No subtitles

Coup 53

The overthrow of a democratically-elected government in Iran in 1953 by American and British secret services for the benefit of their oil companies and the installation of the Shah as supreme ruler, is the subject of this compelling and unmissable documentary.

Award-winning director, Taghi Amirani, transforms his passionate and meticulous decade-long search of archives, personal dairies, and other sources, into a thrilling pursuit for the missing mastermind behind the historic coup. Working with Oscar winning editor Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, The English Patient), it becomes a gripping ‘whodunnit’ as it lays out the context for subsequent political ramifications that reverberate even today. Look out for a surprise star appearance!

Language: English, Farsi

Subtitles: English

Days of the Bagnold Summer

Sweetness exudes from all pores of this witty and charming directorial debut from the actor, Simon Bird (The Inbetweeners), in this quintessentially English coming-of-age comedy.

When his father suddenly cancels an invitation to his second marriage to a much younger woman in Florida, teenage metal-head Daniel is devastated. Instead of the planned exciting, exotic summer, he is condemned to spend his time with his boring librarian mother, Sue, who touchingly tries her best to make up for his disappointment. The combination of a razor-sharp script and excellent acting from Monica Dolan (Sue) and the permanently clad in black, Earl Dave (Daniel), as well as Rob Brydon as a Lothario school teacher, make this an uplifting feel-good movie.

Language: English

No subtitles

Fanny Lye Deliver'd

Maxine Peake excels in Thomas Clay’s period drama set in 1657, when King Charles I has recently been beheaded and Oliver Cromwell is in control of the nation.

Fanny Lye (Maxine Peake), her puritanical husband, John (Charles Dance), and their son, live a quiet life in the countryside, when a man and a woman arrive at their homestead looking for shelter. Soon, the libertarian ways of the new arrivals begin to horrify the upright God-fearing family. A showdown between the buttoned-up family and the hedonistic couple, foreshadows a further violent bust-up between the law and blasphemy. A wonderful and uplifting film about political/patriarchal repression and sexual/spiritual freedom, it has links with the Quaker movement.

Language: English

No subtitles

I Am (Not) A Monster

With creativity and critical reflections as tools, Ben Hayoun’s outstanding I’m (Not) A Monster wants to create global action and a more equal world.

Based on Hannah Arendt’s philosophical works, Nelly Ben Hayoun – director, researcher, feminist and founder of The University of the Underground – throws herself into an unconventional and inspiring trip around the world. The aim is to find the source of knowledge. She brings us to conversations with Noam Chomsky, Pussy Riot’s Nadja Tolokonnikova as well as Arendt’s old student, the anthropologist Arjun Appadurai among many others. An incredibly fascinating film that tries to pave the way to the source of knowledge, but which does not provide a simple answer, but points out the importance of always asking questions.

Language: English

No subtitles

Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story

A fascinating story in the vein of Searching for Sugarman about the renaissance of musician and trans activist Beverly Glenn-Copeland amongst Japanese record collectors.

In 1986, a sci-fi obsessed woman named Beverly Glenn-Copeland recorded a cassette featuring seven songs using an Atari studio in her Ontario home. She named her quaint folk electronica album ”Keyboard Fantasies” and released it herself. And that was pretty much that. Until three decades later, when Glenn-Copeland – now a man – started to receive emails from all the world, thanking him for his music. It turned out that the album had found an audience thanks to a Japanese record collector. A political and captivating tale about great societal changes and the unpredictability of life.

Language: English

No subtitles

The Kindness of Strangers

A meeting between strangers leads to surprising consequences in festival favorite Lone Scherfig’s enthusiastic and deeply humane drama.

Clara (Zoe Kazan) flees to New York together with both her sons to hide from her violent husband. When their car is impounded they are left to a hard life on the streets and are forced to rely on strangers to get by. An established Russian restaurant in Manhattan, where the owner Timofej (Bill Nighy) is always infallible in his comic timing, becomes a temporary sanctuary. With Tahar Rahim and Andrea Riseborough in the other main roles, Lone Scherfig focuses on highlighting mankind’s generosity and the individual’s ability to do good.

Language: English

No subtitles

Krabi, 2562

Position-seeking film worker meets a caveman in a playful hybrid film about globalization and the collisions of time in a Thai tourist paradise.

According to the Buddhist calendar, 2562 corresponds to 2019, but contemporary Thailand’s restaurants, stop lights and advertisement recording sessions are mixed with prehistoric elements in this low-key, experimental collaboration between British Ben Rivers (Spell to War off the Darkness, GFF 2014) and Thai Anocha Suwichakornpong (By the Time It Gets Dark, GFF 2017). The duo has previously made short films and video installations together. Their first joint feature-film is a fascinating film rendition of the commerce of tourist destinations, history, and picturesque landscapes.

Language: Thai, English

Subtitles: English

Little Joe

A botanist sci-fi thriller in a laboratory setting. Master director Jessica Hausner’s (Lourdes) makes an impressive English-language debut.

At a company which produces new plant forms, Alice (Emily Beecham) has developed a flower with new qualities. Through its very scent, it can make its owner happy. Just before the flowers are to leave the laboratory to be put on the market, Alice starts to suspect that her creation is anything but benign. Little Joe is an existential thriller – whose dystopian mood, and Ben Whishaw bit part, brings The Lobster to mind. But Hausner’s subdued humour and hyper-aestheticism are easily recognisable. Costumes, set design and deadpan acting – all top notch. Beecham claimed the Best Actress award at the Cannes film festival.

Language:English

No subtitles

Make Up

Renowned short film-maker Claire Oakley’s debut feature about sexual awakening takes the form of a psycho-thriller set on a bleak windswept coast.

18-year-old Ruth travels to a caravan park by the seaside to be with her boyfriend who works there. It is off-season, and there are just a few staff members and no holidaymakers. As she wanders through the empty caravans, helping to clean them out for the next holiday season, strange happenings force her to delve into the deepest recesses of her psyche and buried sexual desires.

Language: English

No subtitles

Military Wives

Kristin Scott Thomas shines as an officer’s wife with singing ambitions in a wonderful choir-team comedy with a serious sounding board.

While their men participate in the military efforts in Afghanistan, a group of women remain at the military base in Great Britain. Kate (Kristin Scott Thomas) is new at the base, but quickly applies to the women’s homefront committee in hope of livening up the uneasy mood with choir vocals. The wives at the base have one thing in common, otherwise their co-existence is an implosion of opposing personalities, classes and cultures. The British feel-good comedy master Peter Cattaneo (The Fully Monty) has this clash of worlds grow into a charming, warm and thoughtful contemporary fairytale loaded with both charitability and certain political points.

Language: English

No subtitles

A Moon for My Father

Artist and filmmaker Mania Akbari ties her nude and breast cancer-afflicted body to Iran’s political history, in a courageous and completely unique essay film.

Göteborg favorite, Akbari, most recently at Göteborg Film Festival with the fantastic collaboration with Mark Cousins in Life May Be (GFF 2015), is back with an uncompromising and infinitely beautiful film. This time in cooperation with the artist Douglas White, to whom she develops an artistic and personal relationship in letters. They reflect over what their lives and thoughts circle around, how it can be tied to their childhoods. Which for Akbari means the years marred by the war between Iran and Iraq, and the amputated bodies of soldiers. Something which in turn reminds her of her own cancer-mangled body. A body that she and White now hope will carry a child. This is personal, political and poetic film art of the highest class.

Language: English, Farsi

Subtitles: English

Passages

What happened with Brazilian film was reborn? This well-versed essay-documentary analyzes recent decades of Brazilian film art.

Lúcia Nagib is professor of film studies at the University of Reading and Samuel Paiva is professor of film history at São Carlos University in São Paulo. Together they invite us to an interesting lesson in the three latest decades of Brazilian film history. We see how Brazilian film awoke from a slumber in the nineties. How the country’s film integrated music and other art forms. How marginalized minority groups began receiving more space on the silver screen. With the help of a rich archive material and interviews with, among others, Tata Amaral and the festival current Kleber Mendonca Filho (Bacurau), the film professors describe how film art reflects Brazil’s social and political development.

Language: Portuguese

Subtitles: English

Rare Beasts

Unconventional, feminist, sassy, chaotic and wild take on romantic comedy in the British actor Billie Piper’s vibrant directorial début.

Piper plays Mandy, a single mother with a deeply cynical view on love. Yet in an attempt to find a way of living with a partner, she gets into a strange relationship with Pete, who is a mix between a wimp and a misogynist know-it-all who seems to be a bad match for the confrontative but vulnerable Mandy. Rare Beasts is rife with difficult people who are hard to like (David Thewlis plays an egocentric father) and an impossible, raw mix of kitchen-sink realism, dream-like musical elements and rattling discussions – with the message that it is impossible to get everything you want. Against all odds Piper succeeds at making us love both her Mandy and the film.

Language: English

No subtitles

Rialto

Acting of the highest rank characterizes this sensitive, critically acclaimed drama about masculinity and sexuality, where a reserved man over forty faces crisis in Dublin.

A few weeks after his dominating father’s funeral, Colm (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) loses his job in Dublin’s harbor. He is married and has two kids, but is now beginning to seriously question his relationships and choices in life. Unable to open up to his wife Claire (Monica Dolan), and with what to say the least is a problematic relationship to his teenage son, he now seeks out Jay (Tom Glynn-Carney) – a young male prostitute he meets by chance. Peter Mackie Burns’s second feature film is an impressively nuanced and hefty portrayal of a middle-age crisis. Not least thanks to the quality actors Dolan, Glynn-Carney and the extraordinary Vaughan-Lawlor in the leading role.

Language: English

Subtitles: English

Rocks

The teenage girl Rocks has to take care of both herself and her little brother on her own in Sarah Gavron’s (Brick Lane, Suffragette) acclaimed and powerful sisterhood drama.

Letting classic film stories carry feminist themes has been Gavron’s signature. Now she’s transitioned to a more stripped-down and authentic form than previously, but with even more potent results. In one of east London’s multicultural and most vulnerable districts, Rocks (brilliant newcomer Bukky Bakray) has her life thrown upside down when her mother suddenly leaves them. Without a safety net, life as a teenager quickly becomes a struggle for survival, but best friend Sumaya (Kosar Ali) and the rest of the gang of girls back her up. With energy, passion and warmth, Sarah Gavron and her wonderfully casted, young ensemble present a heart-rending as well as humorous and uplifting drama about rock-hard living conditions and sisterhood.

Language: English

No subtitles

Romantic Comedy

Are you a heartfelt fan of rain-soaked declarations of love and awkward first encounters? Do you find that hard to reconcile with your notions on feminist theory? Here is a chance to study all of your guilty pleasures in a new light.

Director and musician Elizabeth Sankey, perhaps best known to some as half of the indie duo Summer Camp, is obsessed with romcoms, an obsession made all the more problematic by her increased feminist awareness. For how can you relate to a genre notorious for reproducing sexist stereotypes? Sankey embarks on a deep analysis of everything from When Harry met Sally to La La Land, administering lots of well-deserved jabs, but above all a fervent declaration of love for a genre we love to hate.

Language: English

No subtitles

Seahorse

A young man gets pregnant in a village by the English Channel in this life-affirming and nuanced documentary.

”Everybody should be allowed to experience pregnancy, especially men,” says Freddy’s mother. Freddy is a trans man who has decided to conceive. We follow the charming and articulate Freddy, who lives in a small village, through the demanding process – from breaking up with his boyfriend to physical changes. In an optimistic, gentle tone, his very real challenges and moments of joy are interspersed with scenes featuring seahorses (the male seahorses carry the babies). Seahorse is a tender, lovely film about the distinction between identity and biology, about hormones and preconceptions. A though-provoking and powerful reflection on fatherhood and about what the terms male and female actually mean.

Language: English

No subtitles

Tezuka's Barbara

An author with writer’s block becomes obsessed by a mysterious Barbara in an erotic, twisted and somewhat bizarre love story based on a classic manga novel from 1974.

Pay close attention: Directed by Makoto Tezuka, this film is a cinematic version of Barbara, a manga book by the director’s father Osamu Tezuka, who has been called both “Japan’s Walt Disney” and “the godfather of manga.” His Barbara was in turn a reworking of Offenbach’s opera “The Tales of Hoffmann.” In the film, a cult author is afflicted with writer’s block and falls in love with the whisky-drinking Barbara. More and more he abandons his old life and is pulled into a circle where Barbara’s eccentric mother plagues people with her voodoo dolls. Makoto Tezuka has convincingly succeeded as transferring the graphic expressions of manga to the visual format of film.

Language: Japanese

Subtitles: English

For Sama

In her first feature film, Waad al-Kateab captures her own daily life at an Aleppo hospital in this indescribably painful yet strangely hopeful documentary from war-torn Syria.

The war in Syria is often portrayed as a conflict starring Putin, Assad and Trump. Al-Kateab instead aims her camera at the people who it’s really all about; pregnant women hurt by cluster bombs, emergency c-sections in the midst of air raids and children given CPR among the wreckage. She speaks of the optimism during the revolution which turned to chaos, about her love for her husband and their daughter and about struggling to find something like a normal live in the ruins of war. For Sama contains some of the most painful footage ever seen, but also last year’s most persuasive moment of compassion and hope.

Language: Arabic

Subtitles: Swedish 

Walking With Shadows

Walking With Shadows is a film adaptation of Jude Dibia’s critically acclaimed novella about Adrian who is forced to turn away a comfortable life to be true to themselves.

The film takes place in Nigeria’s pulsating capital city Lagos, where Ebele Njoko, who for their entire life has run from their identity, living an orderly existence, at least on the surface. Seeking love and acceptance from family has brought him to recreate himself as the alter ego Adrian – a respected father, man and brother. When his past catches up with him, he loses the mask and his whole world quickly falls apart. Adrian gets picked on by his brothers and brushed aside by his father and friends when he tries to be himself. Debuting director Aoife O’Kelly portrays queer Nigeria with a caring and sharp gaze.

Language: English

Subtitles: English

Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema

With 700 film clips from 183 different female directors from five continents, we deliver a monumental, anticipated and necessary feminist rewrite of film history.

Film historian Mark Cousins has fine-combed the world’s film archives, and in many ways repeats the approach from his acclaimed film/TV series The Story of Film – but with the important difference that all cuts used here to tell the history of film have come from female directors. The result is a 14-hour-long guided road movie through 13 decades of film art. It is, often in detail, about how films are made, filmed and cut; how they portray life, love, humor, politics and death; all exemplified with wonderful clips from many of the world’s foremost filmmakers – all women. As narrative voices we encounter Tilda Swinton, Sharmila Tagore, Jane Fonda, Adjoa Andoh, Thandie Newton, Kerry Fox and Debra Winger.

At Göteborg Film Festival, Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema will be shown divided into five segments: Part 1–5. Each part stands alone and you can see just one, or several, in any given order. 

Languages: Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Chechen, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Mohawk, Swedish

Subtitles: English