X5 2017 Masthead
The King's Choice

Cold Comfort: Go North

Ros Hull

The Scandi Film Festival has docked its longship at Palace Electric Cinemas and the programme ranges from the funny to the absurd, from the touching to the darkest black cinema.

I enjoy each year’s offerings so much I am beginning to have favourite Scandi actors and directors – but not cinematographers because I do not think there is a bad way to shoot those northern landscapes. As with every year, the quality and breadth of films that are part of the festival makes choosing what you will see difficult, but oh, to have life full of such difficulties!

The opening night film, The Other Side of Hope has been receiving rave reviews wherever it screens. And perhaps more importantly, it has also received a lot of love from audiences. It is topical, whimsical and universal in its themes. It will screen again on Friday night and next Wednesday at lunchtime, if you can take a half-day off.

Sami Blood tells the story of the systemic removal of indigenous Sami children from their parents that occurred in Scandinavia through the 19th and 20th centuries. So it would seem that a film made on the other side of the world could be directly related to our own stories.

The film that I think will get talked about the most is Tom of Finland, the story of Touko Laaksonen, who used ‘Tom of Finland’ as his signature on art which was basically pin-ups for gay men. His life journey took him from the horrors of the Second World War and a homeland where homosexuality was illegal to being a symbol, even a spokesperson for the gay rights movement in the USA.

However, if you only see one film in this festival – may I recommend The King’s Choice?

It is superbly well made and wonderfully atmospheric, with the scope and gravitas of a full cinematic epic. But that is not why I recommend it – I recommend it because this story is very emotionally affecting. My daughter and I were both choked up as the credits rolled.

I love history and am fairly fluent in military history but I knew nothing of what King Haakon of Norway did during World War II. I will not tell you but even if you do know what choice he made, this film will still astound you.

It is the humanity of the story that gripped me. The grandfather who is also grandfather of a proud, independent country. His son and heir who wants action, his family who must flee and flee again as the Nazis invade. The politicians who doubt their countrymen’s strength. The German envoy, desperately fighting for a peaceful solution.

A country without an army facing up to the German war machine with basically nothing. We were gripped throughout and felt the pain and desperation of these people despite the quietness of the action – no dismembered bodies, little blood but such a great sense of desperation and loss.

I will never forget the people running into the forest to escape the machine gun fire from fighter planes. I will always admire the boy, barely a soldier, who is wounded, alone but still alert enough to lie to his interrogators and give the royal family, and the whole Cabinet, a chance to escape.

Sterling stuff, Norway, sterling stuff.

the essentials

What: The 2017 Scandinavian Film Festival
When: 18 July – 2 August
Where: Palace Electric Cinemas, Philip Law Street, NewActon
Find more information: scandinavianfilmfestival.com/venues/canberra

The author attended as a guest of the Festival however her opinions remain her own. 

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Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author