Gabriela Pichler's 'Amateurs' Wins Goteborg Film Festival

International Film Festival Rotterdam
'Amateurs'

Alen Drljevic's 'Men Don't Cry,' about the traumas suffered by Yugoslav war vets, won the first-ever best international film honor.

Amateurs, the second feature film from Swedish director Gabriela Pichler (Eat Sleep Die), has won the Dragon Award for best Nordic film at this year's Goteborg Film Festival.

The prize comes with a cash bursary of 1 million Swedish krona, around $125,000, making the Dragon Award one of the world's most lucrative film honors.

Amateurs is the story of a small Swedish community that, in an effort to attract a big German discount supermarket to bring in jobs, asks local youths to produce films praising their community. But the films do not turn out as planned. The Goteborg jury praised Amateurs for its “vibrant, nuanced and intelligent portrait of a small town in contemporary Sweden, which embraces different generations, backgrounds and mediums.”

Iram Haq's What Will People Say, about a Pakistani girl living a double life in Norway, received a special mention from the jury. The drama, however, won over Goteborg audiences, picking up this year's audience prize for Best Nordic Film.

The Dragon Award for best documentary went to Simon Lereng Wilmont for The Distant Barking of Dogs, a portrait of 10 year-old Oleg and his grandmother, who live in a rundown house on the frontline of the war in eastern Ukraine. Director Wilmont followed them for several years, watching Oleg grow up on the edge of war. 

Sofia Haugan's My Heart Belongs to Daddy, in which the director reconnects with her father, an amphetamine-addicted criminal, earned a special mention from the documentary jury.

Another autobiographical story — Cristina Pinheiro's Menina—took this year's Ingmar Bergman award for best debut feature. The film follows a 10-year-old girl, growing up in a Portuguese family in southern France, caught between a love of home and longing to escape.

The first-ever Dragon Award for best international film, picked by the audience of the Goteborg festival, went to Men Don't Cry from Alen Drljevic, making his directorial debut after working as an assistant director on the films of Berlin Golden Bear winner Jasmila Zbanic (Grbavica, On the Path). The drama follows macho war veterans from former Yugoslavia who gather for a therapy session to discuss their shared trauma.

Other awards handed out in Goteborg Saturday night include the Sven Nykvist cinematography award for Sophia Olsson for her lensing of Milad Alami's psychological drama The Charmer; the international film critics honor, the Fipresci, for Isold Uggadottir's And Breathe Normally; and the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize for best Scandinavian TV series, for the Danish drama series Ride Upon the Storm and its writer Adam Price.

This year's Honorary Dragon Award for lifetime achievement went to French actress Juliette Binoche, while Alicia Vikander won the Nordic Honorary Dragon Award, presented to Scandinavian talent.

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