Welcome to March and a new slate of virtual Nordic events. Mark your calendars now so the opportunities don’t pass you by.
March welcomes another virtual Nordic film event, Nordic Lights Film Festival hosted by National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA. Films will stream March 7-14. Partnering with National Film Festival for Talented Youth, they will also be presenting a shorts program that includes emerging filmmakers from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Some of the feature films have been geo-blocked by their production companies; those films will only be viewable in Washington State. However, many have no restrictions. For programming and ticket information, visit the festival website. Personally, I’m intrigued by The Birdcatcher’s Son/Fågelfångarens son, a drama from Sweden that takes place in the late 1800’s on the Faroe Islands.
Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues to celebrate contemporary Nordic filmmaking with its virtual New Nordic Cinema film event. Festival films will be available to ticket holders all over the U.S. Each session is limited to 250 tickets. The sessions will take place over seven days (Friday – Thursday), with all films available for viewing on a virtual cinema screening platform throughout this period.
- Week 3, February 26-March 4: Maria’s Paradise/Marian paratiisi (Finland, 2019; dir. Zaida Bergroth) and The Reformist – A Female Imam/Reformisten (Denmark, 2019; dir. Marie Skovgard)
- Week 4, March 5-11: Uncle/Onkle (Denmark, 2019; dir. Frelle Petersen)
- Week 5, March 12-18: Force of Habit/Tottumiskysymys (Finland, 2019; dir. Kirsikka Saari, Elli Toivoniemi, Anna Paavilainen, Alli Haapasalo, Reetta Aalto, Jenni Toivoniemi, Miia Tervo)
- Week 6, March 19-25: Echo/Bergmál (Iceland, 2019; dir. Rúnar Rúnarsson)
- Week 7, March 26-April 1: Beware of Children/Barn (Norway, 2019; dir. Dag Johan Haugerud)
March is also when many Scandinavian language centers begin their spring semesters of language learning opportunities which are still online and available to a wider audience.
- Vesterheim’s Heritage & Language Classes (Decorah, IA): “Starter Session” and “Continuing Beginning” Norwegian classes begin in April and are filling up already.
- Mindekirken’s Norwegian Language & Culture Program (Minneapolis, MN): Online registration for the spring session, March 27-June 7, is now open. They offer Norwegian language, language & literature, and cultural classes.
- The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center (San Francisco, CA): Beginning in March, they offer beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes in Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. They also offer private lessons.
- Scandinavian Language Institute (Seattle, WA): They offer language instruction classes to the general public in various levels of Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish.
- American Swedish Institute (Minneapolis, MN): ASI offers both Swedish and Finnish language opportunities. Spring term begins the week of March 29 and classes run for 9 weeks.
What events interest you?
New Nordic Cinema Week 3: Maria’s Paradise and The Reformist (February 26 – March 4)
Celebrate the start of Women’s History Month with this double feature, both directed by women and about strong women: Maria’s Paradise/Marian paratiisi (Finland, 2019; dir. Zaida Bergroth) and The Reformist – A Female Imam/Reformisten (Denmark, 2019; dir. Marie Skovgard). The Reformist is a documentary about Muslim leader Sherin Khankan as she established Europe’s first female-lead mosque. Maria’s Paradise is about a charismatic seer in 1920s Finland.
Nordic Women in Film – Iceland: Borders & Boundaries (Tuesday, March 2, 5:00 p.m. – Thursday, March 4, 5:00 p.m. PST)
In the final week of Nordic Women in Film, watch the Icelandic movie And Breathe Normally (director Ísold Uggadóttir, 2018). “Two women’s lives will intersect while trapped in circumstances unforeseen. Between a struggling Icelandic mother and an asylum seeker from Guinea-Bissau, a delicate bond will form as both strategize to get their lives back on track.” Q&A and panel discussion will take place Wednesday, March 3, 3:00-4:30 p.m. EST exploring the question “How do filmmakers influence physical, geographical, and emotional boundaries?” Registration opens February 15.
Digital Exhibition: Conversations with a Shipwreck (March 4 – June 5)
Beginning Thursday, March 4, Scandinavia House Online is proud to introduce the interactive digital exhibition Conversations with a Shipwreck with a haunting, multimedia meditation on the Swedish warship Vasa, created in word and image by ASF Fellows Joan Wickersham and Adam Davies. Through presentations of poems and large-format photographs, with short durational video and audio, this digital art and literary exhibition responds to the legendary warship — which sank only minutes into her maiden voyage — exploring themes of memory and oblivion, technological triumph and fiasco, permanence and impermanence, mortality and time.
New Nordic Cinema Week 4: Uncle (March 5 – 11)
In the fourth week of Scandinavia House’s New Nordic Cinema, watch Denmark’s Uncle/Onkle (2019, dir. Frelle Petersen), “a beautiful exploration of small-town Danish life that is both stunningly picturesque and quaintly endearing in its navigation of young love and complicated relationships” (view trailer).
New York International Children’s Film Festival: Sisters: The Summer We Found Our Superpowers (March 5 – 14)
Screening at the New York International Children’s Film Festival is the Norwegian live action film Sisters: The Summer We Found Our Superpowers directed by Silje Salomonsen and Arild Østin Ommundsen. Vega, 9, and her wild sister Billie, 5, are going on an overnight outdoor hike in the lush Norwegian woods. The trip is full of exciting climbs, silly jokes, and happy trekking until Dad pulls one acrobatic stunt too many, falling into a cave and injuring his leg badly. Unable to move, he asks Vega and Billie to get help. Anxiously retracing their steps, they know that everything depends on them now, as Vega tries to keep them focused on the goal despite setbacks, surprises, and Billie’s many distractions. They bravely face their fears, discover their superpowers, and find strength in their sisterhood. Recommended for ages 7+. In Norwegian with English subtitles.
Thursday Night Soup: New Nordic Ärtsoppa (Thursday, March 11, 6:00 p.m. CT)
Most Americans probably aren’t familiar with Sweden’s Thursday night soup tradition of ärtsoppa (yellow pea soup). It might be safe to say that many young modern Swedes are not as familiar with ärtsoppa as the generations that came before them, and the national dish has fallen out of fashion in more recent years. While pea soup has been around for many centuries, the ärtsoppa tradition dates back to the time when Catholic rule came to Sweden and meat was forbidden on Fridays, thus a meat-fast began Thursday nights. The soup is said to have been used to assassinate King Erik XIV who consumed a bowl laced with arsenic in the late 1500s. In class, you will learn about the traditional Thursday night soup and prepare a modern ärtsoppa flavored with Thai curry, coconut milk, cilantro lime yogurt, and fried lefse crisps, as well as ärtsoppa’s long-time partner pancake dessert (plättar). Sign up for this small-group event to be able to interact with food historian Patrice Johnson as she cooks.
Second Friday Nordic Spirit Classics: Viking Women: Valkyries and Housewives – Mistresses and Mothers (Friday, March 12, 7:30 p.m. PT)
The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA, is beginning a monthly series of Second Friday Nordic Spirit Classics, a virtual program of selected presentations from 21 years of Nordic Spirit Symposia. The topic of the first one is “Viking Women: Valkyries and Housewives – Mistresses and Mothers” by Marit Synnøve Vea of Avaldsnes, Norway. Participation is free. A link for the virtual presentation will be given the day before the event. For access information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nordic Book Club: Exile by Jacob Ejersbo (Sunday, March 14, 4:00 p.m. PT)
The Scandinavian School and Cultural Center in San Francisco welcomes you to join their Nordic Book Club where they’ll read books by Nordic authors in English. They plan to cover writers from all the Nordic countries. March’s book is Exile by Danish writer Jacob Ejersbo. It’s the first in a trilogy inspired by his own childhood in Tanzania. The event is free of charge, but you must register.
Virtual Intro to Finnish (Sunday, March 14, 12:45 – 2:45 p.m. CT)
Are you curious about the Finnish language, but not yet ready to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited about a new language? This two-hour introductory workshop is the perfect way to get a feel for Finnish — pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.
Virtual Intro to Swedish (Sunday, March 14, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. CT)
Are you curious about the Swedish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to Sweden? This two-hour introductory workshop is the perfect way to get a feel for Swedish — pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation. This class is currently sold out, but you can be added to the waitlist.
Seattle Jewish Film Festival: The Crossing (Sunday, March 14, 5:00 p.m. – Wednesday, March 17, 5:00 p.m. PT)
This is the story of adventurous 10-year-old Gerda and her brother Otto, whose parents are in the Norwegian resistance movement during the Second World War. Just before Christmas 1942, their parents are arrested, leaving the siblings on their own, whereupon they discover two Jewish children, Sarah and Daniel, hidden in a secret cupboard in their basement. It is now up to Gerda and Otto to finish what their mother and father started: to help Sarah and Daniel flee from the Nazis, cross the border to neutral Sweden, and reunite with their family. Directed by Johanne Helgeland with screenplay by author Maja Lunde, this is a family drama (rated PG) in Norwegian with English subtitles. Ticket sales end 2 hours before streaming period. There is no grace period after the 72-hour timeframe expires. Available for viewing throughout the United States.
Online Nordic Book Club: Childhood by Tove Ditlevsen (Tuesday, March 16, 6:00 p.m. ET)
The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. At this meeting, they’ll be discussing the book Childhood by Tove Ditlevsen, which has been recently re-released in translation by Tiina Nunnally as part of the The Copenhagen Trilogy. The trilogy was the subject of a recent panel discussion with Michael Favala Goldman, Morten Høi Jensen, Rachel Kushner, and Ben Lerner, available to stream here. This event is free. For more information and to register, visit the event page.
April Family Norwegian Language Adventure: Vår i Norge / Spring in Norway (Deadline to sign up: March 17)
Join Vesterheim in April for some family fun and learn some Norwegian language and culture along the way! The theme for the April adventure Vår i Norge (Spring in Norway). Through hands-on activities, fun crafts, light-hearted games, and short videos, you and your family will learn and practice your new Norwegian skills. A kit will be delivered right to your home containing supplies for these language activities, a helpful reference sheet for all the new words and expressions you will be learning, a fun craft, and a yummy treat. Gather your family to share in the fun as you gain a new understanding of the Norwegian language and Norwegian culture. Enrollment deadline is March 17.
Panel Discussion: Seizing Symbols: Hate Groups’ Co-opting of Culture (Sunday, March 21, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. PST)
Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for this panel discussion. Why have far-right extremist groups co-opted symbols of the Nordic countries’ pre-Christian past? What is understood and misunderstood by such groups about the culture referenced? This panel will explore the appropriation of Norse symbols by white supremacists and other types of hate groups in North America and Europe. This event is free, but RSVP is required to receive link.
Collection Connections: Dairy Production & Cooking Utensils (Tuesday, March 23, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CT)
Join Norwegian food specialist and Vesterheim instructor, Darlene Fossum-Martin, and Vesterheim Collections Manager Jennifer Kovarik as they focus on objects in the collection that tell a story about Norway’s unique food traditions. From wooden dough bowls, to cheese molds, to milk strainers, and beyond!
Collection Connections: Gudbrandsdal Rosemaling from Past to Present (Wednesday, March 24, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CT)
Join Vesterheim Gold Medalist and rosemaling instructor, Pam Rucinski, and Vesterheim Collections Manager Jennifer Kovarik as they highlight the journey and shifts in the painting style of Gudbrandsdal rosemaling. Pam will share some examples from the collection. She will discuss how travel to Norway has influenced the work of contemporary Gudbrandsdal rosemalers. Pam will trace the impact Jakob Klukstad and other master artists, including woodcarvers, have had on rosemaling for over 300 years.
Travel Seminar – Spectacular Mountains, Waterfalls and Fjords of Norway (Wednesday, March 24, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. CT)
Join Mindekirken’s Magne Hatlevik, a Møre og Romsdal native, for a tour across beautiful landscape as you visit some of Norway’s most important national symbols featured in Eidsvoll, Hamar, Lillehammer, Åndalsnes, and Trollstigen. Travel through Western Norway’s rugged terrain winding your way from Sunnmøre all the way back to Oslo. During a time when Norway’s borders might be closed for all but necessary travel, Magne will bring a piece of Norway to you.
Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Group): The Mercies (Wednesday, March 24, 7:00 – 8:15 p.m. CT)
Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Join her in March to discuss The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. “After a storm has killed off all the island’s men, two women in a 1600s Norwegian coastal village struggle to survive against both natural forces and the men who have been sent to rid the community of alleged witchcraft… Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1620 witch trials, The Mercies is a feminist story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.” (Description from Goodreads)
Virtual Nordic Table Workshop: Waffles for Våffeldagen with Erin Swenson-Klatt (Thursday, March 25, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. CT)
Jump right in and make some waffles to celebrate one of Sweden’s well known food holidays, Våffeldagen (Waffle Day). Students can follow along from home to make a light lunch or afternoon fika from Swedish-style waffles. Traditionally thin and heart shaped, these recipes will work with any thinner waffle iron. This is a live “cook along” class taught over Zoom. A shopping list will be shared one week in advance so students can make sure they have the ingredients on hand.
Nordiska Book Club — The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman (Thursday, March 25, 6:00 p.m. PT)
To broaden readers’ Nordic reading repertoire and to engage with fellow bookworms, Nordiska, a Nordic gifts and goods store in Poulsbo, WA, has created Nordiska Book Club. In recognition of International Women’s Day in March, they have decided to highlight a lesser-known woman’s narrative from Nordic history. They will be discussing The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman by Nancy Marie Brown. Join them in reading and discussing this Viking woman’s story. For more information and to register, click here.
The 45th Annual Kalevala Day Festival – The Healing Power of Singing (Saturday, March 27, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. PST)
The National Nordic Museum together with the Finnish Choral Society invites you to the 45th Annual Kalevala Day Festival—The Healing Power of Singing. The Kalevala Day tradition goes back to 1835, when the national epic of Finland, the Kalevala, was published for the first time by Elias Lönnrot. The Kalevala epic played an important part in developing Finland’s national identity and Finnish language, art, and music. The first Kalevala Day was celebrated on February 28th, in 1885. The Kalevala Day celebration continues to this day in Finland with cultural events. The event will be shown on YouTube Live on the Museum’s website starting at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 27.
Meet the Author: The Copenhagen Trilogy (Sunday, March 28, 10:00 a.m. PST)
Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, to discuss The Copenhagen Trilogy by Danish author Tove Ditlevsen. In this talk, translator Michael Favala Goldman as well as Professor Marianne Stecher-Hansen will discuss this courageous and honest trilogy from literary icon Tove Ditlevsen—a pioneer in the field of genre-bending confessional writing—which explores themes of family, sex, motherhood, abortion, addiction, and being an artist. The talk will be moderated by Elizabeth DeNoma.
Which March events or experiences look interesting to you?
Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.