Festgoers warm up to Cold titles

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SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- Snow-covered landscapes and dark brooding emotions seem as out of place here in sunny San Sebastian as icy reserve would in a film by Pedro Almodovar.

But in Cold Fever, the Scandinavian cinema sidebar featured at this year's festival, San Sebastian film fans can dip into a region known for its cold dark winters and its psychologically dark cinema.

The 38 films screening in the Cold Fever sidebar are a "best of" selection from Copenhagen to Helsinki from 1995 -- the start of Denmark's Dogme revolution -- to the present.

Some of the titles -- "Cabin Fever," "Cold Light," "Frozen Land," "Zero Kelvin" -- hardly sound inviting, but if the queues stretching outside the screening theaters are any indication, the locals seem to have warmed to Nordic films.

"The reaction to my film was mixed but it was very interesting," said Bjorn Runge, in San Sebastian with his 2003 Berlinale Silver Bear winner "Daybreak." "The film didn't sell here, so it the first time a Spanish audience could see it."

Bard Breien brought his dark comedy debut, "The Art of Negative Thinking," to San Sebastian's Cold Fever showcase after winning the best director's prize in Karlovy Vary this year.

"It's great to have this kind of special platform in a festival as big as San Sebastian," Breien said. "Norwegian films are starting to get a reputation but we still haven't had a big, breakout success, so this sort of attention is good. Maybe it will help to sell the films."

While there's been no report of big sales on the back of Cold Fever, the festival screenings are selling out.

For Runge, coming to San Sebastian has also been a creative inspiration.

"Since the Dogme movement sort of ended, I have the feeling Scandinavian cinema has been drifting a bit and there's a danger we could be getting stuck in cliches," he said. "But coming here and looking at the films (in the Cold Fever lineup), I was inspired. In Scandinavia, we are just starting to work together to co-produce and co-finance films across our borders. But the festival here showed me how much we can learn from one another."
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