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Tigers, a Swedish sports drama based on the true story of teenage soccer talent Martin Bengtsson, has won the top prize, the Dragon Award, for Best Nordic Film at the 2021 Göteborg Film Festival, Scandinavia’s top cinema event.
Ronnie Sandahl —the screenwriter on Janus Metz’s 2017 tennis biopic Borg vs McEnroe—won over the Göteborg jury with his adaptation of Bengtsson’s autobiography, in which he details his experiences as a young player drafted by top Italian team Inter Milan. The prize comes with a $478,000 (SEK 400,000) cash bursary. Erik Enge, who plays Bengtsson in Tigers, took Göteborg’s Best Actor honor.
“Many of the films of this year’s Nordic competition had characters wanting to be the best versions of themselves while struggling with the pressures of success,” said the Göteborg jury in a statement. “The winning film gives a rare glimpse into a world many wish to enter, but only a few will be admitted. We chose to award the film that made us feel and root for the main character in every situation, whether chasing their dream or giving it up in order to survive and become happy.“
Göteborg’s Audience Dragon Award for Best Nordic Film, went to Danish dramedy Another Round by Thomas Vinterberg. The feature, starring Mads Mikkelsen, recently picked up a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign-language film and is Denmark’s candidate for the 2021 Oscars in the best international feature category.
Another 2021 Oscar contender, Jasmila Zbanic’s Bosnian genocide drama Quo Vadis, Aida? won the Dragon Award for Best International Film, which comes with a $60,000 (SEK 50,000) bursary. The feature, which premiered in competition at the 2020 Venice Film Festival, tells the story of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre through the eyes of a courageous UN interpreter.
Flee, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s documentary, which mixes animation and newsreel footage to tell the story of an Afghani refugee’s traumatic journey to Denmark, won Best Nordic Documentary, a prize that comes with $300,000 (SEK 250,000) in prize money. Flee premiered opening night at the Sundance film festival and Neon snatched up North American rights to the film in a seven-figure deal.
Pleasure, a drama from director Nina Thyberg about a 20-year-old who leaves life in small-town Sweden for Los Angeles to become the world’s next big porn star, picked up the international film critics honor, the Fipresci Award, for best film in Göteborg’s Nordic Competition line-up. The Fipresci jury called Pleasure “a raw, bold and daring documentary-like descent into the subterranean world of the L.A. porn industry, with a tour de force performance from newcomer Sofia Kappel.”
Göteborg’s Sven Nykvist Cinematography Award, named after the late, Oscar-winning cameraman of Fanny and Alexander and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, went to Linda Wassberg for her lensing of Tove, another autobiographical drama. Director Zaida Bergroth follows the life of Finnish avant-garde artist Tove Jansson, famed as the writer of the popular Moomin children’s’ books.
The Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award, named after the legendary Swedish filmmaker (Fanny and Alexander, Scenes from a Marriage) went to Mama by Li Dongmei, in which the director recounts her experiences as a 12-year-old growing up in a rural Chinese village during the 1990s. The prize consists of a stay at the Bergman Estate on the Baltic Sea island of Faro for Li and a visit to Ingmar Bergman’s personal archive in Stockholm.
The Dragon Award for Best Swedish Short, with a $60,000 (SEK 50,000) cash prize, went to The Expected by Carolina Sandvik. The Church of Sweden’s Angelos Award and its $60,000 (SEK 50,000) bursary, went to Magnus von Horn for Sweat, a Swedish-Polish co-production about a celebrity fitness influencer who has a moment of self-reckoning.
The Nordisk Film & TV Fond Screenplay Award for the best TV drama went to Maja Jul Larsen for Cry Wolf, a Danish series that screened in Göteborg’s TV Drama Vision sidebar.
Göteborg last year was one of the last European film festivals to be held in-person before the coronavirus pandemic forced most of the continent into lockdown. As a result of COVID-19, this year’s festival was an almost entirely virtual affair.
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