21 May 2024
Stockholm Film Festival: At the Halfway Mark
Creative Arts Culture What's on: Stockholm

Stockholm Film Festival: At the Halfway Mark

YLC’s industry insider Claire Duffy reports straight from the velvet chairs of the annual International Stockholm Film Festival.



Half way through, gut check…

Sunday morning kicked off with a reminder of what an exciting time this is for filmmaking. Filmmaker Daniel Patrick Carbone gave an inspiring masterclass on making a completely self financed film. He’s part of a collective with two friends from film school, and they take turns producing one another’s work, choosing to pay for the shooting budget out of their own pockets rather than jump through hoops (my words, not his!) for 5­6 years to find traditional financing.

I’m a huge old Hollywood buff, and I love how, in recent years, we’ve come full circle: early filmmakers ­ including the greats, D.W. Griffith, Chaplin ­would round up some actors, or people they thought looked like they could be actors, off the streets, trundle out to the desert, and work instinctively from only a loose idea of the story. The digital revolution of the last decade or so has made such guerilla filmmaking feasible again, and it was exciting to hear how the script for Carbone’s film Hide Your Smiling Faces (which premiered in Stockholm that evening) was simply a collection of ideas and emotions and notes to himself that evolved as they improvised on set. He admitted that distributing a film with little money behind it was a “struggle, but it’s a good one if you believe in the film.”

Unfortunately, it was then off to this year’s first stinker. It’s not that Afternoon Delight, written and directed by Jill Soloway is an incompetently made film. There was a sense that Soloway knows her world well, the dialogue was beautifully authentic, and there were some great performances from Kathyn Hahn, Juno Temple and Josh Radnor.

It was that every last character was so deeply unlikeable that I wanted to leap through the screen and throttle the vapid self obsession out of them.

The film was another bored­housewife­dabbles­in­the­sex­industry story .­ I guess if I learned anything this weekend, it was that being a stay­at­home­mum makes you hanker after prostitution ­but unlike in Concussion, there was no dignity to Rachel (Hahn)’s journey.

After a trip to a strip club in an attempt to spice up her marriage, she becomes obsessed with saving lap dancer (who turns out to also be a hooker) McKenna (Temple) ­ despite the fact that McKenna doesn’t appear to need or want saving at all. When one of Rachel’s friend’s husbands ­ freely, of his own volition ­ sleeps with McKenna, this is all apparently Rachel’s fault and constitutes her throwing their “beautiful life” away. Or something. I’d tuned out by then.

Weekend 1 rounded up with Denis Côté’s Vic and Flo Saw a Bear. I’d love to be able to tell you what I thought of it, but, more than two days later, I’m still not entirely sure. I was engrossed, to be sure.

It was unsettling, and it stayed with me for quite some time afterwards, so I suspect Côté would be satisfied, but did I enjoy it?

Victoria (Canadian comic Pierrette Robitaille) is released from a life sentence in prison, and moves in with her infirm uncle in a cabin in remote Quebec. She is soon joined by her lover Florence (Romane Bohringer), and there’s a kind of slow burn tension for some time in which they settle into life together but we sense a ticking time bomb ­ then sure enough, there’s a flurry of violence, then things settle back down, then another flurry of rather gruesome violence then it’s the end. It’s deliciously offbeat and weird and distinctive… and I think I enjoyed it.

As the credits rolled, I was rather dreading the Q&A with Côté, because I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to gory stuff and the last few minutes of the film had left me ever so slightly light-headed. Luckily a moment of faffing about with the mic gave me a chance to recover, and it proved an interesting and enlightening chat.

Côté touched on the discussion from the morning’s masterclass, describing how he likes to make his ‘real’ movies out in the woods with a crew of four, then every once in a while makes a bigger one like this and has no idea what to do with half the 40­odd people on set. I asked him about the decision not to specifically reveal Vic and Flo’s crimes, and he responded that we know that Victoria was sentenced to life and will be visited by the parole officer for the rest of her life, so can gather that she must have committed murder, ‘what else do we need?’

I’d have liked a little more insight ­ there’s a big difference between cold bloodedly mowing a granny down and murdering an abusive partner, for example ­ but I felt that Côté made exactly the film he wanted to and cheerfully considered it my tough luck if I wanted more, so hats off to him!


Claire Duffy



Claire is a writer and filmmaker originally from Scotland who moved to Stockholm in 2011 for no particular reason. She is fond of snow, pickled things and very tall men, so it’s working out very well so far. Read about her expat adventures on her blog.


Follow Claire and Your Living City on Twitter!


  • Dave 13 Nov 2013

    I am not so sure about your choice of movies. This feels like an extremely biased view. This is your second post on the festival, yet still no mention of Heli. This independent Mexican film is really the type of stuff one can only get exposed to at a festival. Spectacular, yet at time very unpleasant experience. Nevertheless, I believe, necessary. I hope you are going to review Kink in your next post, because given the people involved (James Franco) it is something that one needs to see. Come on, expand your horizons a little bit.

  • Dave 13 Nov 2013

    Just so that you can see that I am not talking nonsense, this is a very powerful film that you have excluded.


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