HAPPENINGText: Victor Moreno

This year, the Stockholm Film Festival featured movies that look at how new technologies such as fake news and A.I. affect our society. There was also a spotlight on new British films, and it honored Ethan Hawke, Ken Loach, and Catherine Breillat for their impressive careers. “Our goal is to offer quality cinema to a wide audience. In our program we have both independent and studio feature films, the most original documentaries and cutting-edge short films from all over the world. This year we had 130 films from 50 different countries and more than 30 % of the films were made by debutant directors. This year we also saw a trend with the film year that many of the films explored our time’s uncertainties around what is real in our high technological era. With this year’s spotlight theme “The Other Truth”, the program offered sharp analysis of our present time and in seven thought-provoking films we followed creative inquiries of deep-fakes, AI, and filter bubbles. One of the festival’s main goals is to find new and interesting voices from different countries and present their films in Stockholm. Our audience is interested in seeing films that otherwise won’t be released in the cinemas in Sweden and they especially want to see films from Japan,” says Beatrice Karlsson, Program Director.

This mix of movies covered a lot of different topics and gave both the people who attended and the general public something interesting to think about. In addition, the festival – with the contribution of this year’s guests – has launched a campaign to save the nearly 100-year old historic cinema and treasure the Skandia Theater, located in the heart of the city, which is under threat to disappear for the real estate speculations. We are in deep solidarity with this cause, which is an example of cultural heritage and the preservation of genuine cinematic experience. Here you can make the donation.

Maya Hawke and Ethan Hawke at Scandia theater. Photo: Joar Vestergren

Legendary American actor Ethan Hawke presented “WildCat” (2023) portraying Southern Gothic writer Flannery O’Connor. For a long time, he had a conversation with his daughter Maya Hawke, who had a genuine admiration for O’Connor, the idea of working together was exciting for both and decided to play her role. In fact, Maya Hawke – who rose to fame for her character in Netflix blockbuster “Stranger Things” – is experiencing a breakthrough in 2023 front-acting for the likes of Wes Anderson, Bradley Cooper, and now his father. She will also work with her mother, Uma Thurman, with a new film to be released shortly.

Maya Hawke plays Flannery O’Connor in WildCat (2023)

The film is beautifully filmed and explores O’Connor troubled imagination. The writer had some healthy issues that filtered into her writing transposing it to her characters and the complex relationship with her mother, a religious conservative in the southern part of the US in the early twenty first century. Mr. Haweke explained himself “Maya was truly passionate about Ms. O’Connor. I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to create a film centered on a young woman whose primary relationship is with herself and her work? Despite the absence of outward drama, her inner life held tremendous depth. This led me to realize that the only way to truly capture her story on film was to delve into her imagination. So I tried to read all of her published work within a couple of months, immersing myself in nothing but her writings. As I read more and more and delved deeper into her canon, I started to see her. A kind of portrait of her appeared to me, so I realized that this essence was what the movie should capture. I began identifying stories within her works that held an autobiographical touch, ones where I, as a writer, could understand why she might have written that story. I aimed to weave these tales together like a collage, utilizing her writing to narrate her life story. That was the goal,” he concludes.

How To Have Sex (2023) Directed by Molly Manning Walker

The Festival has had a good eye for new British filmmaking. Arguably, “How To Have Sex” is the most representative British film of the year. In fact, the film’ director Molly Manning Walker won the awards for Best Debut and Best Director with her nuanced exploration of the gray areas surrounding sexual consent.

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