The Stockholm International Film Festival opens its doors to the year’s most colourful film marathon and presents 130 fantastic films from 50 different countries.
With so many exciting films, embracing a variety of topics and styles, it is easy to feel a little lost when trying to maximise your festival experience and discover the festival’s most valuable pearls. And that is why we have dived into the festival’s program to bring you a selection containing all the unmissable films at this year’s festival.
Boy From Heaven – by Tarik Saleh, Sweden
One of Europe’s hottest directors, Tarik Saleh (The Nile Hilton Incident), opens this year’s festival with his latest film Boy From Heaven. The film was selected for Cannes’ main competition and won the award for best screenplay. In this political thriller, Saleh has once again teamed up with Fares Fares who gives one of his strongest acting performances.
The fisherman boy Adam is offered the almost unattainable opportunity to study at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the absolute power center of the Sunni Muslims in the world. Shortly after his arrival in the city, he is involuntarily thrown into a brutal power struggle between the religious and political elite of modern-day Egypt.
This nerve-wrackingly original spy drama portrays an environment rarely seen on the big screen and has the audience on edge.
At the screening on the 9th of November, Tarik Saleh and Fares Fares will be there to inaugurate the festival and participate in a Face2Face beforehand. Fares Fares will also receive the Stockholm Achievement Award in 2022. Don’t miss this!
Screenings: Skandia 19/11 – Zita 12/11 – Zita 13/11
Decision to Leave – by Park Chan-wook, South Korea
Korean master Park Chan-wook (“Old Boy – The Revenge”) returns in style with a seductive murder mystery about an insomniac cop and a mysterious widow. Perhaps the hard-boiled visionary behind the revenge trilogy has gone and become a romantic?
The brilliant story of a depressed policeman (a sublime Park Hae-il) and the forbidden feelings he harbors for a murder-suspect widow (Tang Wei in top form) opens in classic Hitchcock noir style but elegantly creeps towards increasingly dreamy and lyrical domains. Rules are stretched, loyalties are tested and secrets are exposed.
Cannes-awarded Park’s directorial craft is as precise as ever, the silky and colourful aesthetics bring thoughts to Almodóvar‘s work and the bittersweet melancholy of the narration is pure balm for the soul. The amalgamation of a tight nail-biter and a twisted romance builds towards an enchanting third act that crowns the masterpiece.
Screenings: Skandia 14/11 – Filmhuset Mauritz 17/11 – Sture 19/11
Empire Of Light – by Sam Mendes, Great Britain, USA
After Bond films and Oscar-winning war action, Sam Mendes arrives with a warm story about friendship, love and the magical power of film.
In a stately cinema on the English south coast, a love drama unfolds as captivating as the films on the big screen. Two different worlds collide when lonely superintendent Hilary (the ever-brilliant Olivia Colman) begins a titillating secret romance with younger ticket boy Stephen (shooting star Micheal Ward). But do they dare to hope for a happy Hollywood ending, when the dark reality catches up with them?
Together with the master photographer Roger Deakins, Sam Mendes creates bittersweet film magic, which brings to mind the classic Cinema Paradiso. A love letter to the cinema as an enchanted place where memories are made and dreams can come true.
At the screening on November 11th, director Sam Mendes will be present to receive the Stockholm Visionary Award 2022. Mendes will meet the audience and participate in a Face2Face. The conversation takes place before the film and is estimated to last 40 minutes.
Screenings: Skandia 11/11 – Sture 1 13/11 – Skandia 19/11
Holy Spider – by Ali Abbasi, Denmark, Sweden
Swedish-Iranian Ali Abbasi, with his Cannes award-winning thriller, puts the magnifying glass on a society of serial killers and in an uncensored way illuminates the burning question of the position of women in Iran.
Rahimi, a female journalist, heads to Iran’s holy city of Mashhad to investigate the murders of prostitutes in the city. But the closer she gets to uncovering the killer, the more difficult it becomes to deliver justice as more and more people hail the perpetrator as a hero. The film is based on the real-life “Spider killer”, Saeed Hanaei, who believed himself to be on a mission from God when he murdered 16 women around the turn of the millennium.
Abbasi, who directed the Oscar-nominated Border, leads the audience into a dense web of unfiltered discomfort and palpable misogyny in this evocative thriller. Horrific scenes will make you want to look away – but they reflect a reality we must not close our eyes to.
Screenings: Skandia 15/11 – Zita 1 18/11 – Sture 3 19/11
Back to Seoul – by Davy Chou, France, South Korea
Davy Chou, whose award-winning film Diamond Island screened at the festival in 2016, now returns with a flawless and moving drama about the search for origins and identity.
25-year-old Freddie has traveled around Asia but instead of returning home, she goes to South Korea. With no real plan, she begins to search for her biological family – a journey that takes her life in new and unexpected directions.
With imagery reminiscent of Joachim Trier and heartfelt humor, Back to Seoul is a beautiful portrayal of one’s roots.
Screenings: Sture 12/11 – Filmhuset Mauritz 13/11 – Zita 1 17/11
Bones and All – by Luca Guadagnino, Italy, USA
Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino depicts the balance between the tenderness of love and the lusts of the flesh in the 80s USA in his Venice-awarded and bloodthirsty road movie.
Maren (Taylor Russell)’s peculiar desires have caused her to be banished to the fringes of society. When she meets day laborer Lee (Timothée Chalamet), she gets a taste of true love. But is their passion strong enough to overcome her past?
Anyone expecting a new love story in the style of Call Me by Your Name now that its director and lead actor are reunited should probably think again. With Bones and All, Guadagnino rather explores the bloody path that marked his acclaimed Suspiria remake. Here, lust takes its bodily toll on a dangerous journey into the heart of darkness. Cut in!
The film is permitted from the age of 15.
Screenings: Skandia 16/11 – Skandia 18/11 – Skandia 20/11
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed by Laura Poitras, USA
The documentary about super-current star photographer Nan Goldin‘s tireless fight against the billionaire Sackler family, responsible for the opioid crisis in the United States, took home the Golden Lion in Venice.
Few of the Western world’s modern tragedies have lasted as long as the opioid crisis in the United States. The pharmaceutical company involved in the whole thing is called Purdue Pharma and is owned by the Sackler family. They have made a name for themselves by smashing the lives of millions of Americans and then donating the blood money to the international museum world.
Here we get an exposé of the acclaimed and Moderna Museet -current Goldin‘s photographic work, and also follow her tireless struggle to expose the pharmaceutical giants.
Meet director Laura Poitras who will participate in a Face2Face at the November 10th screening.
Screenings: Sture 1 10/11 – Zita 1 13/11 – Sture 3 15/11
Banshees of Inisherin – by Martin McDonagh, Ireland, Great Britain, USA
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson star in this salty dark comedy about lost friendship.
Pádraic and Colm are drink washers on a lonely island off Ireland. One day Colm tells her that he wants to end their friendship. Unaware of his friend’s decision, Pádraic continues to confront him but is met with a gruesome ultimatum that will involve the entire village.
Martin McDonagh, who was nominated for an Oscar for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, reunites here the successful duo Farrell and Gleeson from the acclaimed debut In Bruges. Farrell gives the role of his life and was rightly praised for his performance in Venice where McDonagh also took home the screenplay award.
Armed with liberating black humor and rapping dialogue in sing-song Irish, the director combines his grip on both life and Irish heritage in a film that manages to be both beautiful and poignant while also being unabashedly entertaining.
Screenings: Skandia 13/11 – Sture 1 16/11 – Skandia 20/11
Alma Viva – by Crisèle Alves Meira, Portugal, Belgium, France
A girl is haunted by her grandmother’s spirit in an attempt to unite a divided family in Cristèle Alves Meira‘s original coming of age drama.
Portugal’s Oscar entry has a touch of magical realism and treats subjects such as grief, loneliness and family relationships with suggestive caution. Salomé travels to the Portuguese countryside where she usually spends the summers with her grandmother. When the old woman suddenly dies, the family starts arguing over the funeral and no one seems to notice that the girl is haunted by her grandmother’s spirit.
The drama is carried by Lua Michel (the director’s own daughter), her Salomé is eerily present and absent at the same time in a stirring portrait from within a divided family.
Screenings: Skandia 11/11 – Sture 3 13/11 – Sture 3 19/11
Rodéo – by Lola Quivoron, France
A wild ride through French motocross culture, Rodéo has been described as Titane and The Fast and the Furious meets Girlhood. Lola Quivoron‘s debut received heaps of praise at Cannes.
“I was born with a cross between my legs”. That’s what Julia says with a smile to a poor sate who will soon be robbed of his bike.
Our heroine is wild and free, riding solo until she meets an all-male gang of motocross fans at a rodeo – an underground event within the motocross scene. Julia is obsessed with fitting in with the gang as they drift through a diesel-smelling landscape and perform mind-blowing stunts.
Rodéo, which won the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival, is a feminist showdown with the image of bikers – a seductive French American Honey on two wheels.
Screenings: Filmhuset Mauritz 11/11 – Sture 3 16/11 – Sture 1 19/11
Klondike – by Maryna Er Gorbach, Ukraine, Turkey
Near the border with Russia in the Ukrainian Donetsk region, pregnant Irka lives with her husband Tolik in the middle of the crossfire of the war. The film follows a few days in the summer of 2014 that shook the world and is based on real events.
“When all this is over…” – with those words the film Klondike begins. The couple Irka and Tolik live in their house in an area of Donetsk controlled by pro-Russian separatists. On July 17, 2014, the passenger plane Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Donetsk, killing 298 people as a result. Parts of the plane land in Irka and Tolik’s garden and the couple find themselves in the middle of the action.
A strong but brutal film that, with fantastic cinematography, shows some of the worst atrocities of war to those who happen to be in its vicinity. Klondike was awarded prizes at both this year’s Sundance Festival and Berlinale and is Ukraine’s Oscar entry.
Screenings: Klarabiografen 9/11 – Skandia 12/11 – Zita 1 17/11
Broker – by av Hirokazu Kore-eda, South Korea
Palme d’Or winner Kore-eda, who with his previous masterpieces Shoplifters, Nobody Knows and Like Father, Like Son has taken audiences all over the world by storm, is now back in action with Broker. The film is his first Korean-language film with Parasite star Song Kang-ho in one of the lead roles.
The two friends Sang-hyeon and Dong-soo run an illegal business together: they steal babies from the nearby church baby box and sell them on the illegal adoption market. When young mother So-young returns to pick up the baby she just left behind, she discovers the friends and decides to join them on a road trip to interview potential parents for the baby. Meanwhile, two detectives are on their trail.
An original and unpredictable family drama in true Kore-eda spirit. As usual, the Japanese master – using charm as a tool – touches on human themes such as belonging, ethics and love for the chosen family.
Screenings: Sture 1 11/11 – Sture 1 13/11 – Sture 1 20/11
The Woman King – by Gina Prince-Bythewood, USA
Hollywood star Viola Davis is captivating in her role as the leader of the all-female Agojie army.
In 1820s West Africa, the kingdom of Dahomey is threatened on several fronts. General Nanisca (the always watchable Oscar winner Viola Davis) prepares her female warrior unit, Agojie, for battle. When Captain Santo Ferreira and his men refuse to budge, least of all for black women, a merciless power struggle is unavoidable.
It’s impossible to take your eyes off Davis as a passionate warlord and her unfailingly loyal sisters-in-arms in this fiery and well-choreographed action drama. The Woman King is worth hanging on the lock to buy tickets for.
Screenings: Sture 1 11/11 – Skandia 18/11 – Zita 1 19/11
Nothing Compares – by Kathryn Ferguson, Great Britain, Ireland
In an intimate documentary, the almost mythical singer and activist Sinéad O’Connor‘s life is portrayed from a feminist perspective.
Incredible people make for incredible films, Sinéad O’Connor is no exception. Despite the focus on the years 1987–93, director Kathryn Ferguson manages to take us on a breathtaking journey through the star’s scandal-ridden life.
Filled with anger and grief, Sinéad O’Connor is driven by anger against the Catholic Church’s abuse of women and children, against her mother who abused her, against racism and against the patriarchy. The verdict of history was harsh on those who heckled her after the iconic appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1992, when she tore up a picture of the Pope.
An indomitable phoenix, Sinéad O’Connor‘s life leaves no one untouched.
Screenings: Victoria 2 11/11 – Victoria 2 12/12 – Skandia 14/11
Robe of Gems – by Natalia López, Argentina, Mexico
Robe of Gems is a shocking and elegant crime drama like no other, which won the prestigious Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.
In rural Mexico, three women’s destinies collide when a missing person’s case leads them down a path of pain and redemption. The film mixes realism, dreams and metaphors where all characters experience varying degrees of loss and abandonment.
López Gallardo‘s strong debut film depicts the fates of three women where class, kidnappings and corruption are at the center. A mature, tough and well-acted drama by one of Mexico’s new directing talents.
Screenings: Klarabiografen 10/11 – Zita 1 15/11 – Sture 1 20/11
Nightsiren – by Tereza Nvotová, Slovakia, Czech Republic
Visually striking Czech/Slovak witch thriller in modern vintage. Nightsiren is one of the big surprises of the year and a must for fans of cinematic folktales.
A young woman returns to her remote village to seek answers about her childhood trauma, but the return tears open old wounds and she becomes entangled in ancient legends that have seeped into the present. Instead of open arms, the backward villagers meet her with accusations of murder and witchcraft.
In her second fiction film, documentary filmmaker Tereza Nvotová weaves together a naturalistic narrative with magical realism to challenge the long-lived, misogynistic superstitions that seem to recur even in our time.
Screenings: Sture 1 11/11 – Sture 2 15/11 – Sture 1 19/11
La Jauría – by Andrés Ramírez Pulido, Colombia, France
The invisible is mixed with hyperrealism in the hypnotic La Jauría. In Andrés Ramírez Pulido‘s impressive feature film debut, the law of the jungle applies.
Teenager Eliú is faced with the challenge of a lifetime when he is sentenced to serve a sentence at an experimental training camp for troubled youth – deep in the secluded Colombian jungle. When his accomplice enters the camp, Eliú’s existence takes a new direction.
Strong and poignant about cycles of violence that are inherited, from father to son and from prison guard to prisoner. La Jauría, a deep dive into the vulnerable minds of young vulnerable men, was the big winner during this year’s critics’ week in Cannes.
Screenings: Sture 2 12/11 – Sture 1 14/11 – Sture 2 18/11