Interlude: Films in the Far North

[Photo by Marc Lanteigne]
by Marc Lanteigne

As the polar night in Tromsø began to give way to the first rays of sunshine, the city’s premiere film celebration wrapped up this weekend after celebrating its thirtieth anniversary. The theme of this year’s Tromsø International Film Festival (TIFF) was ‘Transformation’, and movies from across the Nordic region and well beyond were showcased this year. The opening feature reflected the Arctic nature of the festival, as One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk [video] a Canadian film by Zacharias Kunuk, told the story of a clash between tradition and modernity in a remote part of Baffin Island.

Among other northern films featured at the event were Agnes Joy (Iceland), Kuessipan (Canada) The Aurora (Finland), The Grizzlies (Canada) and the anthology Today in the Murmansk Direction (Russia).

Ukraine was also given a spotlight this year with movies from the country shown as part of the festival’s Horizon East section, including Falling and Ukrainian Sheriffs. Norway’s entries included a documentary on artificial intelligence, iHuman, and the short story-based Descent into the Maelstrom.

International movies were also well-represented, including acclaimed films Jojo Rabbit (United States), Little Women (United States) The Farewell (US/China), and the anime Weathering with You (Japan). Other global features in the repertoire were Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan), Alice and the Mayor (France), Ms. Stern (Germany), Present.Perfect. (完美現在時) (US/China/Hong Kong), Balloon () [video] also from China, and the documentary An Australian Dream.

Seven awards were given out at the conclusion of the festival, and this year’s TIFF Aurora Prize, given to a worthy entry which had made its debut at the event, went to Ukraine’s Atlantis (video), a near-future story of the course of the current ongoing conflict between the country and Russia, directed by Valentyn Vasyanovych. The Tromsø Palm was given to the Swedish animated short Topp 3 [video] while the TIFF Audience Award went to Parasite [video], the South Korean class satirical drama directed by Bong Joon-ho which was also just nominated for Best Picture as well as Best Director and Foreign Language Film, for this year’s Academy Awards.

TIFF headquarters at the Culture House, Tromsø [Photo by Marc Lanteigne]