More then 4.5 million people have attended Tribeca Film Festival since its inception in 2002. The annual event in New York has become one of the most prestigious film festivals in the U.S. This year two Swedish films made the cut. There was a lot of buzz and people were spellbound. Both films are likely showing at other festivals throughout the year. One of them is screened together with five other Swedish titles right now at the Seattle Film Festival

First out was “Broken Hill Blues” (“Ömheten”). A magnificently told and visually striking tale about a group of shattered teenagers in the remote northern town of Kiruna. The opening scenes follow a young girl with her dog in a snow-covered pine forest. The silence is prominent, the beauty is extraordinary, and the girl seems to be the reflective kind. These scenes set the tone as the film then follows a group of teenagers, individually, as they struggle to come to terms with themselves, the surroundings and the uncertain future. They live in a town that is literally cracking under their feet, for it sits above an iron ore mine that has been slowly eroding the land around it for decades. Soon everyone there will have to move.
Debutant Sofia Norlin interweaves the stories of the teenagers and their town in such a lyrical and poignant way that it caresses your soul and reminds you that filmmaking has endless possibilities. She does not use linear storytelling nor gives any uncomplicated answers. She makes the viewer “feel” the people — her sense of place is remarkable and what she brings out of the young actors is a triumph.
We are fortunate to see what Sebastian Hiort af Ornäs (“Sebbe”) and Lina Leandersson from “Let the Right One In” are capable of. Director Norlin makes cracks intense and the broken beautiful — her visual language is like a poem of Garcia Lorca and her snow flurries like a symphony of Bach.

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The second Swedish film at Tribeca, “Something Must Break” (“Nånting måste gå sönder”), is made by a new talent who also uses the essence of the image as a tool to extraordinary achievement. This one competed for the best narrative film at Tribeca and opened Göteborg International Film Festival earlier this year. Ester Martin Bergsmark encapsulated an intimate love story with both dignity and grace as transgendered Sebastian falls hard for straight-identified Andreas. As they come closer and closer in a summer-drenched Stockholm they both wrestle with identity and strong emotions. Edgy and boundary-breaking, the film portrays rare and tender images in moody atmosphere. There is a touch of the Italian master director Pier Paulo Pasolini — organic, poetic and totally fresh.
Two truly original voices have been heard on the American film scene, the two latest voices in the escalating wave of Swedish cinema.

By Niclas Goldberg