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A sneak peak Nordic countries films to compete for the Oscar from the Scandinavia House

On January 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11, 2008, Scandinavia House will present a special sneak preview of all five films chosen by the Nordic countries to compete for the Oscar nomination for the category of Best Foreign Language Film, 2007 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They have been selected by Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as the best films released in those countries in 2007. Scandinavia House is pleased to present Jar City (Mýrin), January 7, directed by Baltasar Kormákur (Iceland); Gone with the Woman (Tatt av kvinnen), January 8, directed by Petter Næss (Norway); A Man's Job (Miehen työ), January 9, directed by Aleksi Salmenperä (Finland); You, the Living (Du levande), January 10, directed by Roy Andersson (Sweden); and The Art of Crying (Kunsten at græde i kor), January 11, directed by Peter Schønau Fog (Denmark).

Press Information: Joan Jastrebski, (212) 847-9717 or joan@amscan.org.

Films are screened for American-Scandinavian Foundation members, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members, and guests.

Special thanks to the Danish Film Institute, the Finnish Film Foundation, the Icelandic Film Centre, IFC Films, the Norwegian Film Institute, the Swedish Film Institute, and Tartan Films USA.

Film Tickets: $10 ($7 ASF members). ASF members only may make film reservations by calling (212) 847-9746. Advance tickets may be purchased at Scandinavia House. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 12-6 pm.

 

ICELAND

Jar City (Mýrin)

Monday, January 7, 6:30 pm

Directed by Baltasar Kormákur (Iceland, 2006).

With Ingvar E. Sigurðsson, Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Ólafia Hrönn Jónsdóttir.

In Icelandic with English subtitles. 93 min.

Based on the novel by Arnaldur Indriðason, Baltasar Kormákur's moody, troubling murder mystery is shot under a glowering sky that only seems to get angrier as the film unfolds. Jar City follows an aging detective named Erlendur (Ingvar E. Sigurðsson) as he tries to solve a particularly nasty homicide. The victim is a bizarre, aging loner with a shady past who has had almost no significant interaction with anyone for decades. This at first seemingly ordinary case grows more complex as it becomes entangled with the mystery surrounding the death of a four-year-old girl 30 years before. Meanwhile, a couple fears for the life of their young daughter, who is wasting away from a rare disease that was believed to have been wiped out years ago. Erlendur faces his own family problems: his junkie daughter Eva (Agusta Eva Erlendsdóttir) has gotten into more trouble than she can handle, and she's come to him for help. While the film works beautifully as a murder mystery, it consistently points to larger, more substantial issues, offering an intellectually and emotionally complex meditation on genetics, ethics, and parental responsibility. At the film's heart are questions: How much can we know about where we came from? And how much should we know? Kormákur's latest and most thematically ambitious film doesn't shy away from the troubling answers. Baltasar Kormákur earned renown as one of Iceland's most acclaimed young actors before turning to directing and winning multiple awards and international recognition with his first film, 101 Reykjavík (2000). His subsequent features are The Sea (2002), A Little Trip to Heaven (2005), and Jar City (2006).

NORWAY

Gone with the Woman (Tatt av kvinnen)
Tuesday, January 8, 6:30 pm
Directed by Petter Næss (Norway, 2007).

With Trond Fausa Aurvåg, Marian Saastad Ottesen, Peter Stormare, Henrik Mestad.

In Norwegian with English subtitles. 95 min.

Norwegian director Petter Næss's latest film is a wryly humorous examination of modern romance that is as endearingly absurd as his Academy Award-nominated Elling. Gone with the Woman is, in part, a twisted comic meditation on the difference between the sexes, in which men are associated with lethargy, indifference, and caution, and women with desire, spontaneity, and volatility. In this smart, ironic look at modern love, a nameless, angst-ridden protagonist (Trond Fausa Aurvåg) is a preternaturally lethargic bachelor leading what he considers a harmonious existence: cycles of work followed by staring blankly into space in his apartment. For no apparent reason, the red-haired Marianne (Marian Saastad Ottesen) suddenly begins showing up in his flat, chattering endlessly. He responds to her as he does to every disruption: by dozing off and hoping the problem will disappear. But when he wakes to hear her speaking about a traumatic childhood experience, he instinctively empathizes, and his fate is sealed-Marianne returns the next day with 12 boxes of stuff and a garish yellow dresser. After being invaded, seduced and conquered, our hero realizes that he has a girlfriend. Told in a cracked fairy-tale manner and narrated in a flat, permanently perplexed tone, Gone with the Woman mirrors our hero's initially dreamy and finally jaundiced perspective.

FINLAND

A Man's Job (Miehen työ)

Wednesday, January 9, 6:30 pm

 

Directed & written by Aleksi Salmenperä.

With Tommi Korpela, Jani Volanen, Maria Heiskanen, Stan Saanila.

In Finnish with English subtitles. 100 min.

The director, Aleksi Salmenperä; producer, Tero Kaukomaa; and leading man, Tommi Korpela

will be present.

This family drama takes an interesting look behind the scenes of the world's oldest profession-performed by a man. Juha is an ordinary, thirty-something man with a job, a wife, and children. When he gets sacked from his job as a stoneworker he feels ashamed of his failure and worried about his depressed wife's mental health, and decides to keep it from his family. Juha spends his days at a remote service station thinking about a way out of the situation and the web of lies he is slowly weaving. He offers his services as a handyman and gets his first job working for an older wealthy lady. Strangely enough, she is not so much interested in his carpentry skills as she is in his body, and the financially desperate Juha finds himself stark naked brushing the hair of a woman he has never met before. He also finds himself earning in two hours what he used to earn in two days at his old job. With the help of his friend Olli, he begins to sell his body in earnest. He finds himself in strange new situations, and his shame and the lies grow, but the money helps him cope with the downside of his new profession. He convinces himself that he is doing it to provide for his wife and children, but there comes a point when it is no longer just male honor, but his family that is at stake. Backed by powerful performances, the film tells the story of people whose life plan differs increasingly from the reality of life.

SWEDEN

You, the Living (Du levande)

Thursday, January 10, 6:30 pm

Directed by Roy Andersson (Sweden, 2007).

With Jessica Lundberg, Elisabet Helander, Björn Englund, Leif Larsson, Ollie Olson.

In Swedish with English subtitles. 90 min.

Following his Cannes Special Jury Prize-winning Songs from the Second Floor (2000), Swedish director Roy Andersson reprises his trademark dark humor and disciplined simplicity in his latest picture. Inspired by a quotation from Goethe, You, the Living moves through a variety of vignettes framed from the expanse of daily life, converting living tableaux into fragments of a philosophical inquiry addressing existential strife in an oblique and surreal fashion. Andersson describes this highly subjective and darkly witty series of 50 portraits of the human race at our present moment in history as a "mosaic of human destinies" on the theme of "how to behave around others." His haunting compositions of blackly humorous despair and depravity brand themselves indelibly on one's brain. We meet a girl with a desperate crush on a rock guitarist (one of many musicians in the film), businessmen, housewives, criminals and, of course, drunks at a bar. They drift in and out of dreams and waking; their attempts at communication are doomed to be emaciated or thwarted. But Andersson's intense empathy is at the core of it all, no matter how outrageous or somber the situations, no matter how grey his distinctive palette. You, the Living is a triumph of tragicomedy from one of the cinema's most sardonic imaginations.

DENMARK

The Art of Crying (Kunsten at græde i kor)

Friday, January 11, 6:30 pm

Directed by Peter Schønau Fog (Denmark, 2006).
With Jannik Lorenzen, Jesper Asholt, Julie Kolbeck, Hanne Hedelund, Thomas Knuth-Winterfeldt.

In Danish with English subtitles. 106 min.

Peter Schønau Fog's intense and unsettling film is a domestic drama-cum-horror movie depicting the absurdity and even horror of family life with laconic humor. Based on the celebrated novel by the Danish writer Erling Jepsen, it chillingly dramatizes the gap between the innocent idealism of childhood beliefs and the starker reality of adulthood. The film follows 11-year-old Allan (Jannik Lorenzen), who tries desperately to keep his dysfunctional family together during the social upheavals of the early 1970's in rural Denmark. His father has "psychic nerves" and regularly threatens to kill himself. His mother has given up, his older brother has moved out, and the family's small dairy store isn't doing well. When his family starts to fall apart, the precocious but innocent 11-year-old Allan goes to desperate lengths to stop the rot, stymied at every turn by his failure to understand the fallibility of human nature. His father lives for the times he gets to recite his famously eloquent eulogies and make the mourners weep in chorus. Soon, Allan is lending a hand to make sure there are enough funerals to keep his father happy. Disturbing and entertaining at the same time, the film handles the difficult subject of child abuse sharply but humanely, boldly revealing the repressive forces at work underneath the sunny surface of a small rural town. The film has won awards at Mannheim Heidelberg filmfestival, AFI FEST 2006 in Hollywood, the 54th Donostia-San Sebastian International Film Festival, and Nordic Council's Film Prize 2007.

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