Behind the Scenes: 2016 Stockholm Film Festival

Behind the Scenes: 2016 Stockholm Film Festival

Writer Christie Petrakopoulos  takes us behind the scenes of the 27th Stockholm Film Festival.


All photos courtesy of Stockholm Film Festival

And so it has begun…

November is finally here and Stockholm celebrates one of the biggest cinematic events in Sweden for film lovers.

Director Ken Loach along with festival director Git Scheynius and Swedish Minister of Culture, Alice Bah Kuhnke, inaugurated the 27th edition of the Stockholm Film Festival at the festival’s opening ceremony that took place at the beautiful cinema Skandia (built 1923) on November 9 . The festival will run until November 20. This year’s main festival guest was the legendary director Francis Ford Coppola who received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

For twelve days, over 160 films from more than 60 different countries are screened in several cinemas in Stockholm.

If you’re wandering how to plan your film festival schedule so you get to see as many of the best international films screened this year as possible, I would recommend you to start with the different film sections that the festival has.

Starting with this year’s Spotlight section, the main theme is Identity.

You find ten films under this category, and these represent countries located on different continents. One of the films you shouldn’t miss is Alanrita Shrivastana’s Lipstick Under My Burkha, which is an Indian film directed by a female director.


Generally speaking, this year’s festival did a good job regarding female representation in terms of stories about women and stories created by women, and one can only hope that more and more women will send in their films in the future.

The Stockholm International Film Festival section Spotlight highlights current societal issues. The line- up delivers an array of compelling documentaries and feature films, broadening the ongoing debate with new perspectives.


Previous years Spotlight has been dedicated to the topics of Hope, Freedom and Power. Last year’s topic was Migration…SFF

Sub-themes include a focus on Korea:

Check out The Handmaiden by Park Chan-Wook, or films based on real events, historical films, HBTQ and romantic films and even films that are about social issues like migration.

One of my all time favourite sections is Competition where long-film directors compete for the world’s heaviest film price, the 7.3-kilo bronshäst (bronze horse). There are just too many good films in this section to choose from. My recommendations are A Decent Woman by Lukas Valetta Rinner, Park by Sofia Exarchou and Sand Storm by Elite Zexer.

The films in the Open Zone section compete for the Best Film award and the winning director will be awarded the FIPRESCI Prize. In this category three films got my attention. First of all, Road to Istanbul by Rachid Bouchareb.

Elodie decides to join the Islamic state and travels from Belgium to an area somewhere between Syria and Iraq. Her mother, Elizabeth, is given no explanation as to why her daughter left; they are not Muslims and have no relationship to the war.


Managing to make fleeting contact with Elodie, Elisabeth fails to communicate with her or understand the new person she has become. Left with no other choice, she must follow in her daughter’s footsteps in an effort to reach her and persuade her to come home… SFF

My second recommendation is The Romantic Barber by Mexican director Iván Avila Dueñas and last but not least the beautiful Agnus Dei by Anne Fontaine.

Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei

For thriller fans, the Twilight Zone section has 16 innovative and scary films for you to choose from. If you are a documentary fan then I recommend After Spring by Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching. The documentary focuses on one of the the biggest population displacement of our times, that of Syrians.

From the Middle East, I invite you to travel all the way to Africa with Lutz Gregor’s Mali Blues who follows four musicians who use the power of music to speak against injustice. A truly fantastic documentary. As part of the festival’s Special Presentations, don’t miss Fratz by François Ozon who is also the 2016 Stockholm Visionary Award recipient.

Last but not least I’d like to point out a film from the Discovery section.

Stéphanie Di Giusto found inspiration for her film The Dancer in a black  and white photograph from the early 1900s portraying a woman in a garden hidden behind a veil. This woman was no other than modern dance pioneer Loïe Fuller that for many has been in the shadow of Isadora Duncan. With The Dancer, Di Gustio tries to correct what she referred to at her F2F interview as ‘an injustice’ towards Fuller. Based on real events, The Dancer will charm you with its beautiful photography and close-up shots as well as an amazing performance by Soko who, as the director revealed, was not doubled in any of the dancing scenes.

You can find analytical information about the films and all the screenings on the festival’s website.

Francis Ford Coppola photo: KATRIINA MÄKINEN

Francis Ford Coppola photo: Katrina Mäkinen

A directors’ festival

Stockholm Film Festival has been for the last 27 years a directors’ festival. They have center stage. From well-known directors to up-and-coming talents, the festival carefully curates a program that highlights and honors their work.

If you are in Stockholm during the festival then you should definitely check out the program and if you’re lucky, the director will also be in town and can get a chance to meet him or her.

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Author: Christie Petrakopoulou

Christie Petrakopoulou is a journalist from Athens. Currently based in Stockholm, Christie believes in the power of story-telling and wants to inspire people by narrating the stories of others. She is a dance and film enthusiast, food lover, social media addict and travel junkie that lives for the moment. Follow her on her blog or Instagram.

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