February 2023: Nordic Events & Sámi National Day

February brings an interesting mix of in-person events for Angelenos and online events for everyone. Of special interest this month is Sámi National Day, an ethnic national day celebrated by the indigenous Sámi people across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. It is always on February 6, the date when the first Sámi congress was held in 1917 in Trondheim, Norway. On that day, Sámi from Norway and Sweden met to discuss common issues. For more information on the history and culture of the Sámi, visit Life in Norway’s “The Sami People”.

There’s a new Norwegian movie available to stream. At the end of January, Netflix released Narvik, an original Norwegian World War II movie that takes place in 1940 in the port town of Narvik in the far north of Norway, 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It is subtitled “Hitler’s First Defeat”. The events that inspired Narvik are true, but the story is told from the perspective of fictional characters. The movie, directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg from a screenplay by Christopher Grøndahl, is available dubbed or with subtitles. The film premiered in Norway in December 2022. Will you watch it?

Online Nordic book clubs continue to be popular. Visit Online Nordic Book Club Meetings to see reading selections and meeting dates for February and upcoming months.


Los Angeles Area In-Person Events in February

Norwegian Classes at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro — Starts Feb. 4

Learn Norwegian at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro starting on Saturday, February 4. Three levels will be offered: Beginners at 10:00 a.m., Intermediate at 12:00 p.m., and Advanced at 2:00 p.m. Suggested donation is $100 for the whole course (10 Saturdays). While you’re at the church, enjoy a bowl of Saturday porridge! For more information, contact mof@church.no or call (310) 467-5180.

Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890-1980 @LACMA — Ends Feb. 5

This exhibit closes February 5. It is the first exhibition to examine the extensive design exchanges between the United States and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) during the 20th century. See it before it closes! Many of the issues considered in the exhibition remain relevant today, including the contributions of immigrants to their adopted societies, the importance of international exchange, critical analysis of cultural myths, and concern about environmental sustainability and accessibility. Read about the process of designing the exhibit at Designing an Exhibition: Scandinavian Design and the United States.

Nordic Spirit Symposium: Scandinavian Design — Feb. 10 & 11 in Thousand Oaks

This year’s theme is Scandinavian Design: Simple and Beautiful. In the middle of the 20th century, Danish Modern and, more generally, Scandinavian Modern Design, gained popularity in the United States. This symposium will examine the reasons for this popularity, will delve into different design media for two countries, Finland and Norway, and will treat the long-term history of ceramic and glass design in Denmark and Sweden. The theme of Scandinavian design applied to architecture and interior design will be addressed in the opening talk February 10 by an Icelandic American architect. All presentations will be amply illustrated. In addition, the program will include music as three string instruments of different designs, the Finnish Kantele, the Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle, and the Swedish Nyckelharpa, will be described and played.

For complete program details, see the brochure or visit the website. The meal registration deadline has been extended through February 3. To pay by check, use the printable registration form. To pay by credit card, use the Eventbrite event page.

Concert Celebrating Female Nordic Composers at the Norwegian Church — Happening Feb. 11

Join the Norwegian Church in San Pedro for a concert on Saturday, February 11, at 2:00 p.m. celebrating female Nordic composers. Performers will be Helena Falk on violin (Meet Helena Maria Falk), Christina Sandsengen on classical guitar (Meet Christina Sandsengen), and Lene Skomedal on French horn (Meet Lene Skomedal). Concert is free; donations to the musicians accepted.


Virtual Events in February

In Trunks, Hands, and Hearts: What Norwegian Immigrants Brought to the United States (Thursday, Feb. 2, 6:30 p.m. CT)

Join Sons of Norway Nidaros Lodge # 1-001 (West Minneapolis) and Vesterheim Collection Manager Jennifer Kovarik to explore the immigrant experience through stories associated with artifacts in Vesterheim’s collection. Between 1825 and 1980, nearly one million Norwegians left for new lives in America. We’ll consider the reasons for leaving, what they brought, and where they settled.

The Living Archive: Examining and Reimagining Heirloom Heddles with Kerstin Neumüller (Saturday, Feb. 4, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Join celebrated Swedish carver and weaver Kerstin Neumüller as she examines heddles from Vesterheim’s collection. Used in bandweaving, heddles were often carved by men as a courting gift for women. Because of this, many historic heddles are ornately decorated with everything from hearts to dates to initials. Throughout the discussion of Vesterheim’s collection of heddles, Kerstin will also share about her relationship with traditional handcraft in contemporary Scandinavia.

Meet the Author: Nicklas Brendborg, Jellyfish Age Backwards (Sunday, Feb. 5, 10:00 a.m. PT)

Join Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma (DeNoma Literary Services) in virtual conversation with Nicklas Brendborg, author of the international bestseller Jellyfish Age Backwards: Nature’s Secrets to Longevity. This eye-opening work offers a revelatory scientific deep dive into how plants and animals have already unlocked the secrets to immortality – and the lessons they hold for us all.

Introduction to North Sámi (Sunday, Feb. 5, 2:00 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Sámi language and culture? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to the north of Finland, Sweden, or Norway? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Áila O’Loughlin is the perfect way to learn some history of the nine living dialects of Sápmi, get a feel for North Sámi, pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic greetings. Families welcome!

Demo: Baking Swedish Semlor with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Feb. 9, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Pick up tricks for making a sweet winter treat by watching Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen bake and fill a batch of cardamom and almond flavored semlor in this virtual demonstration. Traditionally served on Fat Tuesday and now enjoyed throughout the winter, semlor are an indulgent winter treat across Scandinavia. Kristi will use multiple batches of dough to demonstrate how to make the Swedish version of these buns, from mixing and kneading the cardamom flavored dough, to preparing the almond paste and whipped cream filling, to baking and assembling the finished buns. Students will leave with the recipe and lots of tips, inspired to bake their own batch of semlor at home!

Sámi Film Fest (February 9-12)

The 5th Annual Sámi Film Festival explores Sámi stories through film in a must-see hybrid event taking place both in-personal and virtually. The Festival is organized by the National Nordic Museum in Seattle and Scandinavia House in New York and presented in partnership with Pacific Sámi Searvi. Attendees can screen films online on February 9-12 and in person at both venues on February 11. The program will include a variety of contemporary Sámi documentaries, short films, and panel discussions with the filmmakers. In 2023, the Sámi Film Festival will feature the selections of this year’s guest curator of film and acclaimed Skolt Sámi director Katja Gauriloff.

Registration for Vesterheim Folk Art School Spring Classes Opens (Friday, Feb. 10, 12:00 p.m. CT)

Vesterheim Folk Art School in Decorah, Iowa, is a popular destination for online classes. Registration for April through June 2023 classes opens on Friday, February 10, at noon (CT) with classes in rosemaling, woodworking, jewelry, cooking, fiber arts, weaving, and heritage and language, plus youth and family programming. See a list of spring classes here. Classes sell out quickly so if you see something interesting, sign up quickly!

Love Spells from Norwegian Grimoires: A Conversation with Eirik Storesund from the Brute Norse Podcast (Wednesday, Feb. 15, 7:00 p.m. CT)

Old Norse philologist Eirik Storesund, host and creator of the Brute Norse podcast, has translated a curated selection of charms, spells, and sorcerous recipes from Norwegian grimoires and vernacular tradition on the topic of love and romance. Learn about everything from Norwegian “black books” to bowl inscriptions as he discusses folk magic and shares some terrible ideas and (mostly) bad advice for your love life. Join us for a fascinating glimpse into the magically infused romantic liaisons of pre-industrial Scandinavia. Registration is required for this free event.

Painting with Wool: Dala Horse Needle Felting Workshop (Saturday, Feb. 18, 11:00 a.m.)

Join Scandinavia House and explore the magic of needle felting with a delightful Dala horse image and take your colorwork skills to a new level. Dala horses have been a Swedish icon for centuries, and this class will take a new spin on the traditional wooden-painted form by recreating the image in wool. During this class, students will learn how to stretch a felt backing onto an embroidery hoop and keep it tight for ease of use. Plus, they will learn to transform the beautiful array of hand-dyed roving from the instructor’s farm’s sheep into their own interpretation of the project. Focus will be given to shape creation, colorwork, and three-dimensionality. This is a beginner-friendly course. See class description for what it is included in the kit and would you need to provide.

Silver Threads: Exploring Norwegian Sámi Silver with Liz Bucheit (Saturday, Feb. 25, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Goldsmith and folk-art instructor Liz Bucheit is a 2021 recipient of the American Scandinavian Foundation’s Scandinavian Folk Arts and Cultural Traditions in the Upper Midwest Fellowship. Liz traveled to northern Norway to research and study Sámi silver work in order to broaden her knowledge of historic design, tools, and techniques unique to the Sámi culture. She is sharing this knowledge in an effort to encourage a broader awareness of Sámi silver work within the folk culture and traditions of Scandinavian ornament. Registration is required for the free event.


Looking and Planning Ahead to March

Cozy Cocktails for Cold Weather (Friday, Mar. 3, 7:00 p.m. CT)

An important part of Nordic culture is the willingness to embrace the cold, dark winter. In this class, you will focus on hot beverages and the power they have to get us feeling koselig, or “cozy.” You’ll learn some new recipes while also developing the skills to create your own unique hot toddy. Take your warm cocktail outside and embrace the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, or getting outdoors. Skål!

Billedvev Frame-Loom Weaving Workshop with Allyce Wood (Sunday, Mar. 5, 1:00 p.m. ET)

Learn the basics of weaving through the use of humble materials and step-by-step instruction. A common picture frame, with glass and backing removed, becomes the ultimate structure with which to create upon. Learn how to wind it with cotton thread to create your warp, and build up your piece weft by weft with a variety of yarns. Discover how color blocking, thread patterns, and textured effects can yield endless possibilities!

Virtual Nordic Language Café with The Scandinavian School in San Francisco (Sunday, Mar. 5, 5:00 p.m. PT)

Get ready to practice your Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish! This is a perfect opportunity for you to practice your speaking and listening skills and meet other people who share your passion for all things Nordic. Are you a beginner? No worries! All levels are welcome. The Cafés are very relaxed and friendly, and if you feel more comfortable listening rather than speaking there is a spot for you in the Café too. Participants will be divided up into different breakout rooms in their chosen Nordic language. You don’t have to be a student at The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center to join.

Swedish Weeknight Dinners (Thursday, Mar. 9, 5:00 p.m. CT)

Need some fun ideas for simple, creative weeknight dinners? Look to the Swedes for some unique flavors that are easy to pull together even on those busy nights. We’ll make an American version of västerbottensostpaj (cheese pie), embrace the Swedish motto “Tacos, not just for Friday’s anymore” with taco paj, and we’ll dive into the oddly delicious Swedish hotdish called flygande jakob. Menu will include signature cocktails that every age can enjoy.

Tropical Aquavit Cocktails with Emily Vikre (Friday, Mar. 24, 7:00 p.m. CT)

Although you may not expect it, aquavit pairs deliciously with tropical fruits! Whether or not you have taken a class with us already, you will enjoy learning some new cocktail recipes in this new class featuring aquavit, the traditional Scandinavian spirit with centuries of tradition and celebration. Emily Vikre of Vikre Distillery will inspire you with her Nordic twist on classic tropical cocktails and her storytelling about the history of aquavit, as well as her contemporary lifestyle as a dual Norwegian citizen living in Duluth, Minnesota. Be prepared to concoct delicious tropical aquavit drinks while engaging with Emily and other cocktail enthusiasts during this fun evening class.


Which 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.

January 2023 Nordic Events

Godt nytt år! Happy New Year! For Nordic enthusiasts in the Los Angeles area, there are big in-person events happening this month. For those around the country, virtual events continue to be on the program.

Online Nordic book clubs continue to be popular. Visit Online Nordic Book Club Meetings to see reading selections and meeting dates for January and upcoming months.


Los Angeles Area In-Person Events

The Scandinavian Film Festival LA with BalticFilmExpo @SFFLA is around the corner. After two virtual years, the festival is back at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills on January 14 and 15 and January 21 and 22 with films from Scandinavia and their Nordic neighbors. View the festival program. Festival goers can purchase a festival pass which includes access to all screenings as well as the opening reception or individual tickets. Buy passes and tickets here.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s exhibition, Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980, will close February 5. It is the first exhibition to examine the extensive design exchanges between the United States and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) during the 20th century. See it before it closes!

Save the date! The Nordic Spirit Symposium returns February 10 and 11 in Thousand Oaks, CA. This year’s theme is Scandinavian Design: Simple and Beautiful. In the middle of the 20th century, Danish Modern and, more generally, Scandinavian Modern Design, gained popularity in the United States. This symposium will examine the reasons for this popularity, will delve into different design media for two countries, Finland and Norway, and will treat the long-term history of ceramic and glass design in Denmark and Sweden. The theme of Scandinavian design applied to architecture and interior design will be addressed in the opening talk February 10 by an Icelandic American architect. Visit Scandinavian Design: Simple and Beautiful to see details on the program. The February symposium is in-person. However, the initial January presentation on Danish Modern will be virtual (see below for details).


VIRTUAL EVENTS in JANUARY

Danish Modern: Design for Living (Nordic Classics’ Second Friday Series) (Wednesday, Jan. 11, 12:30 p.m. PT live or Friday, Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m. PT pre-recorded, Free)

Join Tova Brandt, Executive Director of Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa, for a presentation on Danish Modern design. Brandt will show the wonderful furniture designs that came out of Denmark in the 1950s and 1960s, and explain why so many pieces are known by descriptive names like the Ant Chair, Peacock Chair, and Artichoke Lamp. She will discuss the iconic designs and designers of the period, such as Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, and Arne Jacobsen. She will also discuss the strategies through which American consumers developed a taste for Danish Modern, and how that legacy continues into the 21st century. Participation is free but registration is required. The program is  hosted by The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA.

Family Handcraft at Home: Carving a Dala Horse (Enrollment Deadline: Jan. 18)

This February, Vesterheim invites you to try your hand at the historical handcraft of figure carving. Folk artist and art educator Charles Banks will inspire you to be creative in unexpected ways through a warm video demonstration. The best thing about this class is that you can watch the video and open your kit materials to explore carving whenever it is most convenient for you and your family members! Your registration provides you with a kit that includes everything you need to explore this handcraft as a family at home! On the first of the month, you will receive an email with the links and information about how to access.

Demo: Scandinavian Pea Soup Supper with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Jan. 19, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Join Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen for a low-effort, high reward wintery supper of vegetarian Split Pea Soup with Barley, simple salad with Lingonberry Vinaigrette, and Swedish Oat Crackers. Each of these recipes work well to make ahead and have on hand for a satisfying cold weather meal but make a tasty meal for entertaining too. As always, Kristi is sure to share lots of inspired tips and tricks for cooking Nordic food simply at home.

Workshop: Needle Felted Chickadee (Friday, Jan. 20, 2:00 p.m. CT)

Create a sweet felted chickadee inspired by Minnesota’s northwoods in this afternoon-long class. Led by instructor Laura Berlage, students will follow step-by-step instructions to transform hand-dyed wool from the instructor’s own sheep into a felted chickadee that will fit in the palm of your hand. Needle felting is fun, easy and therapeutic, and as your wooly friend comes to life, you’ll enjoy conversation with other students and learning more about wool and the sheep who produced your kit materials! Your kit even contains enough wool to make a second chickadee, perfect for continuing with this craft beyond class.

Knit a Norwegian-Inspired Pot-Holder (Saturday, Jan. 21, 1:00 p.m. CT and Sunday, Jan. 22, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Add Norwegian beauty to your home by knitting a kitchen accessory! In this class, you will use a circular needle to cast on and knit a beautiful pot holder using the two stranded colorwork technique. With the aid of live Zoom interactions and prerecorded demonstration videos, class instruction will include Norwegian knitting techniques, reading charts, knitting with two colors, tips for color changes, finishing, blocking, and more. You choose one of two patterns. Enrollment Deadline: January 13.

The Fantastic Art of Paper Cutting with Danish Paper Cut Artist Torben Jarlstrøm Clausen (Sunday, Jan. 22, 12:00 p.m. ET)

Back by popular demand, celebrated Danish paper-cutting artist Torben Jarlstrøm Clausen returns for a workshop on creating wonderful paper-cut beings! In this online workshop held via Zoom, Clausen will share his techniques and guide viewers through creating their own paper-cut magic. Participants will also explore the paper-cut artwork of renowned storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, and hear about Clausen’s own journey to becoming a paper-cutting artist. The class will be limited to 30 participants to allow for audience interaction.

Virtual Nordic Language Café with The Scandinavian School in San Francisco (Sunday, Jan. 22, 5:00 p.m. PT)

Get ready to practice your Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish! This is a perfect opportunity for you to practice your speaking and listening skills and meet other people who share your passion for all things Nordic. Are you a beginner? No worries! All levels are welcome. The Cafés are very relaxed and friendly, and if you feel more comfortable listening rather than speaking there is a spot for you in the Café too. Participants will be divided up into different breakout rooms in their chosen Nordic language. You don’t have to be a student at The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center to join.

Virtual Book Talk – Collected Works with Lydia Sandgren & Emily Temple (Saturday, Jan. 28, 1:00 p.m. ET, Free)

This January, join Scandinavia House for a virtual book talk with Swedish author and psychologist Lydia Sandgren on her new book Collected Works. With moderator Emily Temple, she’ll discuss her compelling mystery and poignant bildungsroman about love, power, and art—and what leads us to make the pivotal decisions that change the course of our lives.

Meet the Author: Ann-Helén Laestadius, Stolen (Tuesday, Jan. 31, 11:00 a.m. PT)

Join Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma (DeNoma Literary Services) in virtual conversation with Ann-Helén Laestadius, author of the spellbinding Swedish novel Stolen. Louise Erdrich meets Jo Nesbø in this spellbinding Swedish novel that follows a young indigenous woman as she struggles to defend her family’s reindeer herd and culture amidst xenophobia, climate change, and a devious hunter whose targeted kills are considered mere theft in the eyes of the law.


LOOKING and PLANNING AHEAD to FEBRUARY

Scandinavian Loom Beading (Thursdays, Feb. 2, 9, 16 & 23, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Explore the beauty and fun of beading on a loom in the Scandinavian tradition! Inspired by designs from Nordic bandweaving, this class will take you from start to finish for making your own sparkly beaded bookmark. Learn about the historic use of loom beading and how a remarkably simple process can transform seed beads into delightful designs. The class kit includes a handmade loom designed by the instructor and enough beads, silk thread, needles, and patterns to make two projects, if you wish.

Tropical Aquavit Cocktails with Emily Vikre (Friday, Feb. 3, 7:00 p.m. CT)

Although you may not expect it, aquavit pairs deliciously with tropical fruits! Whether or not you have taken a class with us already, you will enjoy learning some new cocktail recipes in this new class featuring aquavit, the traditional Scandinavian spirit with centuries of tradition and celebration. Emily Vikre of Vikre Distillery will inspire you with her Nordic twist on classic tropical cocktails and her storytelling about the history of aquavit, as well as her contemporary lifestyle as a dual Norwegian citizen living in Duluth, Minnesota. Be prepared to concoct delicious tropical aquavit drinks while engaging with Emily and other cocktail enthusiasts during this fun evening class.

Meet the Author: Nicklas Brendborg, Jellyfish Age Backwards (Sunday, Feb. 5, 10:00 a.m. PT)

Join Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma (DeNoma Literary Services) in virtual conversation with Nicklas Brendborg, author of the international bestseller Jellyfish Age Backwards: Nature’s Secrets to Longevity. This eye-opening work offers a revelatory scientific deep dive into how plants and animals have already unlocked the secrets to immortality–and the lessons they hold for us all.

Introduction to North Sámi (Sunday, Feb. 5, 2:00 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Sámi language and culture? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to the north of Finland, Sweden, or Norway? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Áila O’Loughlin is the perfect way to learn some history of the nine living dialects of Sápmi, get a feel for North Sámi, pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic greetings. Families welcome!

Workshop: Four Band Color Braid Bracelet (Wednesday, Feb. 8, 5:30 p.m. CT, Registration closes Jan. 29)

Braid and finish a beautiful bracelet inspired by the Sámi art of tenntråd, or pewter wire art, led by instructor Liz Bucheit. Students will receive a kit with all the materials to make a bracelet out of natural materials including pewter wire, reindeer leather, and an antler button, plus a reusable clamp for future braiding projects. Kits ($35 value) are included in the class fee. Registration for this kit-based class closes January 29.

Demo: Baking Swedish Semlor with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Feb. 9, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Pick up tricks for making a sweet winter treat by watching Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen bake and fill a batch of cardamom and almond flavored semlor in this virtual demonstration. Traditionally served on Fat Tuesday and now enjoyed throughout the winter, semlor are an indulgent winter treat across Scandinavia. Kristi will use multiple batches of dough to demonstrate how to make the Swedish version of these buns, from mixing and kneading the cardamom flavored dough, to preparing the almond paste and whipped cream filling, to baking and assembling the finished buns. Students will leave with the recipe and lots of tips, inspired to bake their own batch of semlor at home!

Sámi Film Fest (February 9-12)

The 5th Annual Sámi Film Festival explores Sámi stories through film in a hybrid event taking place both in-personal and virtually. The Festival is organized by the National Nordic Museum in Seattle and Scandinavia House in New York and presented in partnership with Pacific Sámi Searvi. Attendees can screen films online on February 9-12 and in person at both venues on February 11. The program will include a variety of contemporary Sámi documentaries, short films, and panel discussions with the filmmakers. In 2023, the Sámi Film Festival will feature the selections of this year’s guest curator of film and acclaimed Skolt Sámi director Katja Gauriloff.


Which 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.

December 2022 Nordic Events: Christmas Edition

The holiday season is upon us! The events in my monthly postings are no longer exclusively virtual. Readers will now also find a selection of in-person events primarily in the Los Angeles area that may be of interest.

Online Nordic book clubs continue to be popular. Visit my page Online Nordic Book Club Meetings to see reading selections and meeting dates for December and upcoming months.


LOS ANGELES AREA IN-PERSON EVENTS

The Norwegian Church in San Pedro hosts many Christmas events this time of year, the first of which is their annual Christmas Luncheon on Tuesday, December 6 (registration required). Another highlight is the Christmas Concert on December 17 (free, no registration required, donation appreciated). See the latest newsletter for details on these events as well as Christmas services and more. Visit their Facebook page for updates on Christmas events.

Have you marked your calendars for the Scandinavian Film Festival LA with BalticFilmExpo@SFFLA which returns in person this winter season? After two virtual years, the festival will be back at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills for two weekends in January 2023 (14th & 15th and 21st & 22nd) with films from Scandinavia and their Nordic neighbors. Details about the programming is expected to be released before the holidays. In the meantime, visit their new website and consider becoming a donor to help make it all possible.

Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is currently hosting an exhibition, Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980, co-organized by the LACMA and the Milwaukee Art Museum in collaboration with the Nationalmuseum in Sweden and the Nasjonalmuseet in Norway. It is the first exhibition to examine the extensive design exchanges between the United States and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) during the 20th century. It will be open through February 5, 2023. Check the Event Calendar for information on gallery tours with a LACMA docent.

 


VIRTUAL EVENTS

Mindekirken’s Norwegian Language & Culture Program Winter Registration Opens (December 1)

Registration for Mindekirken’s Norwegian Language & Culture Program for the next trimester of classes (January – March 2023) is now open. Each trimester, they offer a range of Norwegian classes for beginning learners to those that are more advanced, many of them online. Culture classes are designed to expand learners’ knowledge of traditional and contemporary Norwegian culture.

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market (Friday, Dec. 2, and Saturday, Dec. 3)

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market returns Friday, December 2, and Saturday, December 3, on Facebook. Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses from around the globe together in one online location. Join the Virtual Holiday Market to discover unique Nordic products, take advantage of discounts, and win giveaways. To participate, mark that you are “Going” or “Interested” in the event and then follow the Discussion tab on the event page for products, discounts and giveaways. For more information, visit their website.

Virtual Workshop: Papercutting for the Holidays (Dec. 4, 10:00 a.m. PT)

Join National Nordic Museum for a holiday-themed papercutting workshop with Anna Brones. In this season of Advent we are focusing on slowing down and creating moments of warmth and joy, and the same goes for this class. Together, we’ll design our own holiday-themed paper cuts—perfect to gift someone special! This workshop is also offered Dec. 13 in the evening.

Lecture: Edible Evergreens (Wednesday, Dec. 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m. CST)

Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are indeed edible, so let forager Maria Wesserle guide the way! In fact, northern cultures have a rich tradition of using evergreens for food and medicine. Maria will discuss some of the common evergreens available in the upper Midwest, including how to identify, harvest, and prepare. Maria will also demonstrate how she uses white pine to make tea and other infusions, and students will receive instructions in case they want to follow along at home. This virtual class has limited space to better facilitate participatory learning.

ASI Demo: Swedish Saffron Buns with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Dec. 8, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT)

Get ready for Luciadagen (St. Lucia Day) on December 13 by watching how Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen completes all the hands-on steps for a batch of Swedish saffron buns (also known as lussekatter or lussebullar) in just an hour. Kristi will use multiple batches of dough to demonstrate how to mix and knead this special saffron yeasted dough, shape a pre-risen batch of dough into the typical lussekatter shapes, and bake the buns until golden. Students will leave with the recipe and lots of tips, inspired to bake their own batch of buns at home!

Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series: Sankta Lucia Celebration from Gränna, Sweden (Friday, Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m. PT.)

By popular demand, the Nordic Spirit Second Friday program will bring the enchanting 2019 Sankta Lucia celebration from Gränna, Sweden. Participation is free, but you must register to receive the link. The monthly series of Nordic Spirit Classics is a virtual program of selected presentations from 21 years of Nordic Spirit Symposia hosted by The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA.

Workshop: Paper Quilled Ornaments (Thu, Dec 15, 6:30-8:00 p.m. CST)

Try out paper quilling in this intro level class while creating a quilled ornament perfect for displaying or gifting! Students will learn about the basic tools and materials used in paper quilling with artist Kayla Ann while working on a winter themed ornament that could hang on a tree, window or gift. You’ll come away with lots of inspiration and materials to make a second ornament. This class includes a kit ($5 value); please see the website for more information. Suitable for ages 16+. Registration for this kit-based class closes December 5.

Norway House: 12 Days of Christmas Online Auction (December 10-22)

Norway House’s online holiday auction is back for the third year running, serving as both a unique opportunity to support Norway House AND check items off your shopping list at the same time! The majority of items will be available in a traditional auction-style, closing at 11:59 p.m. on December 21. Alongside their auction, you’ll also find an Instant Shop of items, open and convenient for immediate purchases of Norway House special merchandise.

Vesterheim’s FamilieTid: Music (Sunday, Dec. 11, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Gather the family together and join celebrated Finnish musicians Soili Perkiö and Maija Karhinen for an hour of Scandinavian music. Soili and Maija return to Vesterheim by popular demand after last year’s event. This captivating and engaging hour of singing, dancing, and play will set toes tapping for participants of every age!

ASI Virtual Lucia Celebration Concert (Sunday, Dec. 11, 2:00-3:00 p.m. CT)

This magical concert set in ASI’s Larson Hall brings light to the dark winter through a performance of classic and traditional Swedish- and English-language songs sung by the ASI Lucia Choir and ASI Lilla Lag.

Virtual Workshop: Papercutting for the Holidays (Dec. 13, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. PT)

Join National Nordic Museum for a holiday-themed papercutting workshop with Anna Brones. In this season of Advent we are focusing on slowing down and creating moments of warmth and joy, and the same goes for this class. Together, we’ll design our own holiday-themed paper cuts—perfect to gift someone special! This workshop is also offered Dec. 4 in the morning.

Vesterheim TVprat: Hjem til Jul, Season 1 (Wednesday, Dec. 14, 7:00-8:15 p.m. CT, Free)

In a twist on Vesterheim’s monthly bokprat discussions, join Dr. Maren Anderson Johnson in December for a discussion of the Norwegian television series Hjem til Jul, available on Netflix. This rom-com follows Johanne as she scrambles to find a boyfriend to bring home for Christmas, making dubious decisions along the way. This program is free of charge. Registration is required.

Virtual Crafts & Cocktail (Dec. 15, 6:00-7:00 p.m. PT)

Oh, the weather outside is frightful—so stay in and join National Nordic Museum for a much-needed crafting + cocktail happy hour! A fantastic way to unwind from a long day, it’s also a great excuse to hang out with friends and meet other craft + cocktail lovers. All from the comfort of your own home. This month’s craft project + cocktail is: Holiday Woven Paper Hearts + a Scandinavian Sour!

Vesterheim Family Book Adventure: What Does the Fox Say? (Registration Deadline Dec. 18)

In this family-fun reading adventure, Luther College Nordic Studies instructor Evelyn Galstad will get you reading, thinking, creating, and even up and moving – indoors and out! A kit delivered right to your home contains supplies for book-reading, a fun craft, a snack, and a scavenger-hunt-type adventure. For January, you’ll be reading What Does the Fox Say?, based on the 2013 smash-hit pop song by the Norwegian pop duo The Ylvis. This picture book is geared for young children, but readers of all ages will laugh at the silliness and delight at Svein Nyhus’s playful illustrations in this irresistibly entertaining read-aloud picture book. In the spirit of the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, the scavenger-hunt-type activity will get your family out into the great outdoors.


Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of Nordic events. Many of the virtual events are now available to view as saved recordings.

November 2022 Nordic Events: Virtual & Los Angeles Area

I hope your fall season is off to a wonderful start. Believe it or not, the holiday season is around the corner which you will see in the following list of Nordic events. The events in my monthly postings are no longer exclusively virtual. Readers will now also find a selection of in-person events primarily in the Los Angeles area that may be of interest.

Online Nordic book clubs continue to be popular. Visit my page Online Nordic Book Club Meetings to see reading selections and meeting dates for November and upcoming months.


Los Angeles Area In-Person Events

The Norwegian Church’s annual Julebasar (Christmas Bazaar) will take place Friday, November 11, through Sunday, November 20, in San Pedro. The church will be transformed into a Christmas wonderland. There will be Christmas gifts for young and old, a bakery with Norwegian Christmas baked goods, and a café with delicious food. There will also be a raffle with great prizes. They guarantee a true Christmas atmosphere and a great experience! (The Christmas bazaar’s opening hours are 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except on Sundays, when the shop and cafe will open after the service has finished, approximately at 12:00 p.m.)

SWEA Orange County’s annual Swedish Christmas Fair will take place on Sunday, November 20, in Huntington Beach. It is a traditional Christmas Fair with Lucia Pageants (12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.), Swedish food and baked goods, glögg bar, handicrafts, kids activities, Santa, and much more. They offer a choice of attending one of two sessions, a mid-morning one (10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.) or an afternoon one (1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.).

Mark you calendars for the Scandinavian Film Festival LA with BalticFilmExpo@SFFLA which returns in person this winter season. After two virtual years, the festival will be back at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills for two weekends in January 2023 (14th & 15th and 21st & 22nd) with films from Scandinavia and their Nordic neighbors. Stay tuned for information about the program of Nordic and Baltic films. In the meantime, consider becoming a donor to help make it all possible.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is currently hosting an exhibition, Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980, co-organized by the LACMA and the Milwaukee Art Museum in collaboration with the Nationalmuseum Sweden and the Nasjonalmuseet in Norway. It is the first exhibition to examine the extensive design exchanges between the United States and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) during the 20th century. It will be open through February 5, 2023.


Virtual Events

NY Baltic Film Festival (November 2-13)

The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have been producing motion pictures since 1910. While not as well-known as those in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, their industries have met challenges in one era or another that ultimately only galvanized their creative ambitions for features, documentaries, and animation shorts. Through the screening of both the latest productions and selected classics, the New York Baltic Film Festival offers New Yorkers and audiences across the U.S. an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy the best in Northern European filmmaking and see the world through Baltic eyes. See the 2022 Festival Line-Up.

Meet the Author: Ryan Thomas Skinner, Afro-Sweden (Sunday, Nov. 6, 1:00 p.m. PT, Free)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for  virtual conversation between author Ryan Thomas Skinner and Dr. Ethelene Whitmire (Professor and Department Chair of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison) as they discuss his book, Afro-Sweden: Becoming Black in a Color-Blind Country. Contemporary Sweden is a country with a worldwide progressive reputation, despite an undeniable tradition of racism within its borders. In the face of this contradiction of culture and history, Afro-Swedes have emerged as a vibrant demographic presence, from generations of diasporic movement, migration, and homemaking. In Afro-Sweden, Ryan Thomas Skinner uses oral histories, archival research, ethnography, and textual analysis to explore the history and culture of this diverse and growing Afro-European community.

Gift Guide Auction by The Norwegian American (November 10-20)

This year, why not beat the holiday rush and take some of the stress out of the Christmas season by shopping online with The Norwegian American? For the first time, they are offering the opportunity to purchase a selection of items in their Holiday Gift Guide Auction. Working with select vendors, they have tried to find something for everyone on your list: decorations, toys, books, clothing, treats, and more! For a preview of the auction, visit their website. Bidding will start on November 10 and end on November 20. All proceeds go to The Norwegian American.

Vesterheim Registration for Winter Session Opens (Thursday, Nov. 10)

Vesterheim Folk Art School registration for the winter session (January through March 2023) opens on Thursday, November 10, at 12:00 p.m. CT with many online classes in rosemaling, woodworking, metalworking, jewelry, cooking, fiber arts, weaving, and heritage and language, plus youth and family programming. View the class schedule. Classes sell out so don’t delay if interested.

Introduction to Finnish (Sunday, Nov. 13, 12:45 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Finnish 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 Finland? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Joona Sundström 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.

Typical American/Typiskt svenskt Discussion (Tuesday, Nov. 15, 5:30 p.m. CT)

Enjoy a fun, open discussion about Sweden and the United States with instructor Gunn Edberg-Caldwell. What do we assume or generalize about each other’s countries? Let’s compare and find out how different yet alike we are. This class is also offered on November 17th.

Swedish Holidays Throughout the Year (Tuesday, Nov. 15, 5:30-7:00 p.m. CT)

Celebrate not just the jul season but the entire Swedish calendar year as you learn about all the traditional Swedish holidays in one evening! This class, taught by instructor Gregg White, will provide students with an overview of Swedish holidays with a specific focus on how they have historically been celebrated throughout time.

Typical American/Typiskt svenskt Discussion (Thursday, Nov. 17, 10:00 a.m. CT)

Enjoy a fun, open discussion about Sweden and the United States with instructor Gunn Edberg-Caldwell. What do we assume or generalize about each other’s countries? Let’s compare and find out how different yet alike we are. This class is also offered on November 15th.

ASI Demo: Host a Glögg Party with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Nov. 17, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Celebrate the season Swedish-style with a glöggmingle or Mulled Wine Party! Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen will share some of her favorite seasonal recipes, including her take on Swedish mulled wine or glögg, a trio of mini open-faced sandwiches, and a Pear Cardamom Cake. Whether you are inspired to host a feast or just incorporate these recipes into other seasonal meals, you’ll be set with great options for savory and sweet nibbles throughout the holidays. This live virtual class taught over Zoom includes access to the class recording for one month after the class; registrants may attend live or plan to watch the recording at their convenience during that time.

Introduction to Swedish (Saturday, Nov. 19, 10:00 a.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 taught by Jean Hanslin 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.

Viking Era Clothing and Jewelry (Saturday, Nov. 19, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Join historian and artist Steph Anderson for an hour-long exploration of Viking era clothing and jewelry. From tunics and cloaks to arm rings, necklaces, and brooches, Vikings dressed according to sex, age, and economic status. This webinar will shed light on the traditions of people from more than 1,000 years ago! This program is free of charge. Registration is required.

Introduction to North Sámi (Sunday, Nov. 20, 2:00 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Sámi language and culture? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to the north of Finland, Sweden, or Norway? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Áila O’Loughlin is the perfect way to learn some history of the nine living dialects of Sápmi, get a feel for North Sámi, pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic greetings. Families welcome!

Virtual Nordic Language Café with The Scandinavian School in San Francisco (Sunday, Nov. 20, 5:00-7:00 p.m. PT)

Get ready to practice your Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish! This is a perfect opportunity for you to practice your speaking and listening skills and meet other people who share your passion for all things Nordic. Are you a beginner? No worries! All levels are welcome. The Cafés are very relaxed and friendly, and if you feel more comfortable listening rather than speaking there is a spot for you in the Café too. Participants will be divided up into different breakout rooms in their chosen Nordic language. You don’t have to be a student at The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center to join.

The Reindeer Hunters—Virtual Book Talk with Lars Mytting and Maren Johnson (Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2:30 p.m. ET, Free – Now available for streaming)

Join Scandinavia House for the book launch of bestselling Norwegian author Lars Mytting’s The Reindeer Hunters out November 22 in translation by Deborah Dawkin from The Overlook Press. With moderator Maren Johnson, Associate Professor of Nordic Studies at Luther College (Decorah, IA), he’ll discuss the international bestseller and gripping historical novel set in the world of his novel The Bell in the Lake. Conceived on an epic scale, The Reindeer Hunters is a novel about love and bitter rivalries, sorrow and courage, and a world with a mythic and mystical undercurrent battling the pull of the future. This event will take place as a Zoom webinar. Registration is required at the link above.

Plan Ahead

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market (Friday, Dec. 2, and Saturday, Dec. 3)

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market returns Friday, December 2, and Saturday, December 3, on Facebook. Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses from around the globe together in one online location. Join the Virtual Holiday Market to discover unique Nordic products, take advantage of discounts, and win giveaways. To participate, mark that you are “Going” or “Interested” in the event and then follow the Discussion tab on the event page for products, discounts and giveaways. For more information, visit their website.

ASI Demo: Saffron Buns with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Dec. 8, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Get ready for Luciadagen (St. Lucia Day) on December 13 by watching how Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen completes all the hands-on steps for a batch of Swedish saffron buns (also known as lussekatter or lussebullar) in just an hour. Kristi will use multiple batches of dough to demonstrate how to mix and knead this special saffron yeasted dough, shape a pre-risen batch of dough into the typical lussekatter shapes, and bake the buns until golden. Students will leave with the recipe and lots of tips, inspired to bake their own batch of buns at home!

ASI Virtual Lucia Celebration Concert (Sunday, Dec. 11, 2:00-3:00 p.m. CT)

This magical concert set in American Swedish Institute’s Larson Hall brings light to the dark winter through a performance of classic and traditional Swedish- and English-language songs sung by the ASI Lucia Choir and ASI Lilla Lag. This is an in-person event in Minneapolis with tickets for live-streaming available.

Vesterheim TVprat: Hjem til Jul, Season 1 (Wednesday, Dec. 14, 7:00-8:15 p.m. CT, Free)

In a twist on Vesterheim’s monthly bokprat discussions, join Dr. Maren Anderson Johnson in December for a discussion of the Norwegian television series Hjem til Jul (Home for Christmas), available on Netflix. This rom-com follows Johanne as she scrambles to find a boyfriend to bring home for Christmas, making dubious decisions along the way. This program is free of charge. Registration is required.


Which 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.

October 2022: Virtual Nordic Events Plus Art, Music, & Film in SoCal

Happy fall! The offerings for virtual Nordic events continue with presentations, cooking classes, book talks, and book clubs. If you’re a reader interested in seeing what online Nordic book clubs around the country are reading, visit my page Online Nordic Book Club Meetings to see reading selections and meeting dates. In addition to the virtual offerings, this month also offers some exciting in-person art, music, and film events in Southern California.

2022 Nordic Council Literature Prize Nominees

A special virtual event happening this month is Scandinavia House’s literary series with nominees for the 2022 Nordic Council Literature Prize. This prize has been awarded annually since 1962 to a work of fiction (poetry, prose, or drama) written in one of the Nordic languages. This year’s nominees span the entire Nordic region with works from all countries and language areas. The winner will be announced on 1 November in Helsinki, Finland.

In-Person Experiences

Are you local to the Los Angeles area? The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents a new exhibition, Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980, co-organized by the LACMA and the Milwaukee Art Museum in collaboration with the Nationalmuseum Sweden and the Nasjonalmuseet in Norway. It is the first exhibition to examine the extensive design exchanges between the United States and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) during the 20th century. It will be open October 9, 2022 through February 5, 2023.

Two Norwegian musical performances will be in the area next month. First Norwegian pop star Sigrid will be in California as part of her “How To Let Go” tour. She’ll be performing with guest Ber first in San Francisco at Bimbo’s 365 Club on October 11, followed by October 12 in Los Angeles at The Novo, and then October 13 in San Diego at Music Box. Wardruna, a Norwegian “music constellation dedicated to creating musical renditions of ancient Norse and Nordic traditions” will be in California November 1 through 4 with concerts in Oakland (Nov. 1), El Cajon (Nov. 2), and Los Angeles (Nov. 4).

   

Another special event happening this month is the Newport Beach Film Fest at which both a Norwegian film and a Swedish film are being screened on Tuesday, October 18. Either watch the Norwegian film Long Flat Balls III: Broken Promises directed by Harald Zwart (followed by Q&A with cast and crew) or the Swedish film Tisdagsklubben (Food and Romance) directed by Annika Appelin, and then if you’d like, attend the Newport Beach Film Festival’s European Showcase Celebration honoring the best in European filmmaking.

What’s on your calendar for October?


The Way Further West (Sunday, October 2, 1:00-2:15 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim and the Slooper Society of America for this free 75-minute webinar, open to the public. Norwegian storyteller Anne Elisebeth Skogen will join the webinar from Ryfylkemuseet at Sand, Norway, to tell the story The Way Further the West. This story is the sequel to the program With Restauration through Hell Gate to the Promised Land, which Anne Elisebeth presented online with Vesterheim in October 2020. The first part of the story told about the initial Norwegian emigrant entourage that left Stavanger, Norway, on July 4, 1825. During The Way Further West, you will hear about what awaited the immigrants in Kendall, New York, and how their lives turned out there. Then you will follow them in new upheavals and their travels further west. Where did they settle and what happened to them? Storyteller Anne Elisebeth Skogen has followed in the footsteps of several of the Sloopers herself, and she looks forward to sharing their story with you.

The Nordic Council Literature Prize Nominees: Finland (Tuesday, October 4, 1:00 p.m. ET, Free)

One of this year’s Nordic Council Literature Prize nominees from Finland is Kaj Korkea-aho’s Röda rummet (Red Room, 2021). Korkea-aho, a Finnish-Swedish author, columnist, and comedian, will discuss his novel with critic and essayist Sara Abdollahi. This event will take place as a Zoom webinar. You may ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to info@amscan.org. Registration is required; please sign up at the link above. This conversation will be recorded and available later to stream on their Virtual Programming page and on their YouTube channel.

Vesterheim Benefit Auction (October 8, 12:00 p.m. CT – October 16, 9:00 p.m. CT)

Items are available to view now at www.biddingforgood.com/vest-auction. Each year this auction is full of one-of-a-kind folk art by artists working in the Norwegian tradition. Many of the pieces in the Benefit Auction are donated by Vesterheim Gold Medalists and exhibition ribbon winners from Vesterheim’s annual judged competition, The National Norwegian-American Folk Art Exhibition. Proceeds from the auction benefit Vesterheim’s Folk Art School, which has provided classes since 1967 in fiber arts, woodworking, painting, cooking, jewelry, blacksmithing, knifemaking, and more.

Pears in the Nordic Kitchen (Saturday, October 8, 3:00-5:00 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim and Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen for a delicious afternoon of cooking and baking with pears. Begin by making a fragrant Roasted Pear Compote with Cardamom, Vanilla, and Fresh Ginger, and then Kristi will show you how to turn that compote into a savory appetizer with blue cheese and hazelnuts and a show stopping pear bundt cake.

New Nordic Grain Bowl (Sunday, October 9, 4:00-5:30 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim and instructor Hannah Garry in making a delicious grain bowl featuring traditional Nordic ingredients like barley, dill, and beets that makes for the perfect dinner party offering or lunch on the go. Use fresh vegetables that are in season in your region to top the bowl. Each participant’s meal will be a beautiful reflection of their own local food web. Class participants will also learn to make a creamy, vegan, herb-packed dressing that can be used on just about anything, as well as a Nordic-inspired apple cocktail (or mocktail) perfect for early fall.

The Nordic Council Literature Prize Nominees: Faroe Islands (Tuesday, October 11, 1:00 p.m. ET, Free)

One of this year’s Nordic Council Literature Prize nominees is Faroe Islands’ Beinir Bergsson’s poetry collection Sólgarðurin (Forlagið Eksil, 2021). In this talk, Bergsson will discuss the collection with translator Randi Ward, a 2021 ASF Translation Prizewinner. This event will take place as a Zoom webinar. You may ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to info@amscan.org. Registration is required; please sign up at the link above. This conversation will be recorded and available later to stream on their Virtual Programming page and on their YouTube channel.

Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series—Margi Preus & West of the Moon and Other Places You Can’t Get Get to with GPS (Friday, October 14, 7:30 p.m. PT)

Join the Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA, for a live virtual presentation by children’s author Margi Preus from Duluth, Minnesota. An old family diary, true immigrant stories, and Scandinavian folk and fairy tales combine to tell the story of West of the Moon, a “mesmerizing tale of Astri’s treacherous and harrowing mid-19th century emigration to America.” (Booklist, starred review). Preus’s research into Norwegian immigration led her to startling revelations about the role of women healers, the relationship between a common 19th century childhood ailment and the belief in changelings, and the reverence and fear our Norwegian ancestors had for The Black Book, “whose pages teach how to recover lost goods, find buried treasure, turn back the attacks of snakes and dogs, and more.” Preus will discuss how she combined history, fiction, and folklore in this novel and may give a sneak preview of her brand new book Windswept, also inspired by Norwegian fairy tales and populated by trolls. Participation is free; registration is required.

Meet the Author: Nancy Marie Brown, Looking for the Hidden Folk (Sunday, October 16, 1:00-2:00 p.m. PST)

Join author Nancy Marie Brown in virtual conversation with filmmaker Sara Dosa, as she discusses her book, Looking for the Hidden Folk: How Iceland’s Elves Can Save the Earth. In exploring how Icelanders interact with nature—and their idea that elves live among us—Brown shows us how altering our perceptions of the environment can be a crucial first step toward saving it.

The Nordic Council Literature Prize Nominees: Iceland (Tuesday, October 18, 1:00 p.m. ET, Free)

One of this year’s Nordic Council Literature Prize nominees from Iceland is Elísabet Jökulsdóttir’s Aprílsólarkuldi. She will discuss her novel with translator Larissa Kyzer. This event will take place as a Zoom webinar. You may ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to info@amscan.org. Registration is required; please sign up at the link above. This conversation will be recorded and available later to stream on their Virtual Programming page and on their YouTube channel.

Cooking Class: Swedish Meatballs (Tuesday, October 18, 4:00-5:00 p.m. CT)

Join Swedish American Museum in Chicago, IL, for a cooking class to learn how to make variations to the Swedish meatball. What other Swedish dishes can be prepared with similar ingredients? You will receive the recipe in advance. You can then either cook alongside or watch and try later. It is an interactive Zoom so you will be able to ask questions.

The Nordic Council Literature Prize Nominees: Sámi Language (Thursday, October 20, 1:00 p.m. ET, Free)

One of this year’s Nordic Council Literature Prize nominees is Sámi language areas’ Mary Ailonieida Sombán Mari’s poetry collection Beaivváš mánát (Mondo Books, 2020). It draws readers into the Sámi experience of abuse of power, racism, and contempt on the part of public authorities. Written in two languages — Norwegian in the first part and Northern Sámi in the second — the collection empowers Sámi readers while offering insight to non-Sámi readers through its portrayal of moments in time. The author will discuss the collection with moderator Lisa Monica Aslaksen. This event will take place as a Zoom webinar. You may ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to info@amscan.org. Registration is required; please sign up at the link above. This conversation will be recorded and available later to stream on their Virtual Programming page and on their YouTube channel.

Demo: Fall Fika Favorites with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, October 20, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Apples, squash, and warm spices—what more do you need for fabulous fall treats? Join American Swedish Institute and Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen for three delicious fall fika favorites to add to your baking repertoire. Kristi will demonstrate her takes on the Swedish apple cake, a sweet and quick Pumpkin Rye Bread with Cinnamon Sugar topping, and her grandmother’s pepparkakor (ginger snaps) recipe. This class is designed as a demonstration, so students can watch the entire process and ask questions before tackling the recipes at home at a later date. The recipe packet will be shared via email and available for download one week in advance.

Looking Across the Atlantic: Swedish-American Relations in the 20th Century (Thursday, October 20, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Join the House of Sweden in Washington, DC, for a panel on Swedish-American relations and how ideas, conceptions and images travel between the two countries. Even though Sweden and the United States are separated by an entire ocean, the two nations have a close and longstanding relationship. Cultural, social, political and economic links bind the two countries together across the Atlantic. Dag Blanck, Director of the Swenson Center in Illinois, and Professor of North American Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden, will present in-person at the House of Sweden, but the event will be live-streamed on YouTube as well.

Workshop: Filmkväll – Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter (Thursday, October 20, 5:00-7:00 p.m. CT)

Join American Swedish Institute and Patrice Johnson for this one-of-a-kind Nordic Table class: cook a thematic menu in your own kitchen with Patrice’s guidance, then settle in for a filmkväll (movie night) at home with the classic 1984 Ronja Rovardotter. Patrice will pull inspiration from Ronja’s life in the castle and woods to build a menu that can be assembled over the two-hour class, before everyone settles in for the film at home over dinner.


Which 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.

Scandinavian Film Festival LA #SFFLA 2020 Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!

The 21st annual Scandinavian Film Festival LA returns to the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills the first two weekends of January. Start the new year with “top films from the top of Europe.” Despite its name, the scope of the festival actually extends beyond Scandinavia. Besides films from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, you can view films from the Nordic countries of Iceland and Finland as well as Baltic neighbors Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.

A highlight of the festival is the opportunity to see all the Nordic and Baltic countries’ submissions for the upcoming Oscars 2020’s International Feature Film category (formerly known as Foreign Language Film). (However, only Estonia’s selection made it to the shortlist of ten.)

  • NorwayOut Stealing Horses by Hans Petter Moland
  • SwedenAnd Then We Danced by Levan Akin
  • DenmarkQueen of Hearts by May el-Toukhy
  • IcelandA White, White Day by Hlynur Pálmason
  • FinlandStupid Young Heart by Selma Vilhunen
  • LatviaThe Mover by Dāvis Sīmanis Jr.
  • EstoniaTruth and Justice by Tanel Toom
  • LithuaniaBridges of Time by Kristine Briede, Audrius Stonys

On Saturday, January 4, at 6:00 p.m., join other film enthusiasts at the Opening Gala for drinks and a Scandinavian buffet meal. Gala tickets (a great deal at only $40 each) also include Opening Ceremonies at 7:15 p.m. and the screening of Norway’s only feature film selection at the festival, Out Stealing Horses, at 7:30 p.m. Buy your gala tickets now!

Below you’ll find a list of films by country. Descriptions are taken from the festival’s website, where you can also find a chronological schedule. Consider purchasing a SFFLA Festival Passport which allows admission to all screenings and the Opening Gala (available for $140), or you can buy tickets for individual films for $12 each online or at the door. Please confirm the schedule with SFFLA as it may change after this post is published. Hope to see you there!


* NORWAY *

Out Stealing Horses (Ut og stjæle hester)

  • Feature Film by Hans Petter Moland (2019)
  • Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Per Petterson
  • Saturday, January 4, 7:30 p.m. (123 min)
  • https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7319496/

67-year-old widower Trond Sander (Skarsgård) transitions to a lonely retirement in the breathtaking but desolate landscape of eastern Norway. As winter arrives, he finds a neighbor who he once knew during the summer of 1948. Trond reflects back on that bucolic and childhood summer, the last one he spent with his father as they rode wild horses and chopped wood.

The Tent (Teltet)

A dysfunctional family of four is going camping, and poor communications skills make it a struggle to cooperate when trying to put up a complicated tent. The kids are reacting badly to the increasingly uncomfortable tension, as an underlying conflict between the two parents is slowly forced to the surface – and a shocking secret is finally revealed.


* SWEDEN *

And Then We Danced

A passionate tale of love and liberation set amidst the ultraconservative confines of modern Georgian society, And Then We Danced follows Merab, a devoted dancer who has been training for years with his partner Mary for a spot in the National Georgian Ensemble. The arrival of another male dancer, Irakli, gifted with perfect form and equipped with a rebellious streak, throws Merab off balance, sparking both an intense rivalry and romantic desire that may cause him to risk his future in dance as well as his relationships with Mary and his family.

The Unpromised Land (Till drömmarnas land)

Sabina has traveled from Romania to the small Swedish town Holmsund with her Roma brothers. They work in a garage and Sabina is looking for a job. Elin, born and raised in Holmsund, is in the church singing at the graduation ceremony. A summer is about to start and Sabina will get to know Elin. Together they will revolt against the old ways and find something new in each other. At the same time the society around them collapses in fear and Elin’s dad becomes insane by sorrow. Because there is a madness in the Swedish idyll.

Se7en Dayz till Payoff

An arrogant working actor of low budget horrors hears about a recurring role as a homeless person on an Emmy nominated cop show that he badly wants to land. His agent is against it, but challenges the actor that if he could show him that he could be homeless for seven days, he’ll get him an audition.

Cold Case Hammarskjöld

Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Bjorkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjöld. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime with even farther reaching consequences.

Greta’s Bed and Breakfast

A successful business woman living in New York decides to go back to her home country Sweden after many years to support her best friend who is newly divorced. They make a trip together to a magical place where they meet odd people that change their lives forever.

King of Atlantis (Kungen av Atlantis)

When a young man who takes care of his schizophrenic father meets a young woman he tries to break free from his father to live his own life.


* DENMARK *

Ida

Set in Poland in 1962, it is about a young woman on the verge of taking vows as a Catholic nun. Orphaned as an infant during the German occupation of World War II, she must now meet her aunt. The former Communist state prosecutor and only surviving relative tells her that her parents were Jewish. The two women embark on a road trip into the Polish countryside to learn the fate of their family.

Collision (Kollision)

A married couple, Leo and Olivia, are facing a crisis in their marriage. Their nine-year old daughter, Liv, becomes a messenger between her mother and father. The film explores the break-up of a family and the decisions parents make in trying to find meaning and hope when everything is falling apart.

Confirmation (Konfirmanden)

It’s the big day of Mathias’ confirmation. The Danish tradition where young people say yes to being a Christian and enters adulthood. Mathias is transgender and just wants to be a normal teenage boy. His mother does everything to protect him, but who is this day really about?

Queen of Hearts (Dronningen)

Anne, a successful lawyer and doting mother, places both her family and career at risk when she becomes involved with her teenage stepson.

The Dead Soldier

In Afghanistan, the Danish soldier Jacob Panton is shot five times by a sniper, is hit by a grenade and dies in the operation room. Miraculously he is brought back to life and survives the attack from the Taliban that occurred during his very last patrol. Back in Denmark a long and hard struggle awaits Jacob, his wife Charlotte and their daughter Dina. The former tank commander’s injuries are so severe that it is impossible for him to return to the army. Jacob struggles with a feeling of identity loss and is frustrated with the public treatment of injured soldiers. He slowly starts to find a new purpose in life by helping other war veterans get a tolerable existence.

Before the Frost (Før frosten)

For years, Jens has been fighting to survive on a harsh, unyielding piece of land. The family’s decline in fortune is deeply felt and underscored by the local burghers. The parish priest humiliates them by moving them further back in the church, and Jens is now being targeted by Gustav, a wealthy Swede looking to expand his holdings. With winter coming, Jens must choose between marrying off his beloved daughter or losing his family’s only means of survival.

Daniel (Ser du månen Daniel)

The story of Danish photographer Daniel Rye, who was captured by ISIS in Syria in 2013 and held hostage for 398 days.


* ICELAND *

Little Moscow (Litla Moskva)

During the Cold War, Iceland was part of the West. They became a member of NATO and the United States operated a military base there. Center right coalitions ran the national government and municipalities all across the country, with one exception: In Neskaupstadur, a town of 1,500 people in the east of the country, socialists ran the show. They came to power in 1946 and maintained control for 52 years.

A White, White Day (Hvítur, hvítur dagur)

In a remote Icelandic town, an off duty police chief begins to suspect a local man for having had an affair with his wife, who recently died in a car accident. Gradually his obsession for finding out the truth accumulates and inevitably begins to endanger himself and his loved ones. A story of grief, revenge and unconditional love.


* FINLAND *

Stupid Young Heart (Hölmö nuori sydän)

An edgy, warm, and raw drama about the first love between the skinny and carefree Lenni and the gorgeous and popular Kiira. Not yet in a relationship, nor out of high school, they discover that they are expecting a baby. Lenni has nine months to become a man. Having grown up without a father figure, Lenni finds longed-for adult attention and guidance from an unlikely friend Janne, a member of a right wing group that has recently moved into Lenni’s diverse neighbourhood. After taking part in a scrambled attack on a local Mosque, while Kiira is rushed to the hospital to give birth, Lenni realises that he must learn to be a man in his own way, even though he never had a chance to be a child himself.

Project Rockin’ High

The Finnish heavy metal band Ancara wishes to enter the Guinness Book of Records by organizing a rock concert in the mountains, and in order to obtain global coverage, they decide to try and reach Everest Base Camp. However, from the moment they make this decision, everything will start to go wrong and all the contradictions of a crazy and visionary project will begin to emerge.

Maria’s Paradise (Marian Paratiisi)

The orphan Salome is the servant and devout follower of Maria Åkerblom, a charismatic sect leader. But as Salome befriends a rebellious outsider and starts to have doubts, Maria turns dangerous.

Someone, Somewhere

A tragicomedy set in the true Hollywood where the only spotlight is a malfunctioning streetlight, and the people least likely to make it are the most likely to give everything they got — for a chance to get a shot.


* BALTIC COUNTRIES *

Immortal (Surematu)

Russian documentary filmmaker Ksenia Okhapkina’s essay portrait looks at the strict order that governs life in a small industrial city in Russia. With her talent for visual composition and perceptiveness regarding local events, she puts together an audiovisual collage of seemingly minor details that enable us to observe a society bound by the regime and political power. Scenes of young girls learning about discipline at ballet school or adolescent boys training for the army are eloquent examples of citizen indoctrination, but the filmmaker avoids psychologizing the participants. Instead she portrays the dangerous ideology without excessive words or narration, thus perfectly capturing its furtive omnipresence and inconspicuousness.

The Mover (Tēvs Nakts)

Based on the true story of Zanis Lipke, a working-class man who worked in German military warehouses during the wartime Nazi occupation of Latvia and as a smuggler of human beings at night, The Mover has been dubbed Latvia’s Schindler’s List.

Journey Home (Kelionés namo)

An upbeat memoir, never before presented in cinema, recounting the unexpected first encounters of American-Lithuanians who traveled back to their Soviet-occupied homeland after WWII. During the war, the heroes of the film were forced to leave Lithuania and became displaced persons (DPs). Their nostalgia created somewhat naïve images of their homeland. Yet when allowed to travel to Soviet Lithuania in the late ‘60s and 70’s, they were confronted with a different reality! This account of returning to their homeland reveals the hope and spirit of the pre-occupation era, the intersection of two different civilizations, colorful heroes and their unique experiences.

Bridges of Time

A documentary about the “Baltic New Wave”, avant-garde filmmakers in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania during the 1960s.

Truth and Justice (Tõde ja õigus)

  • Feature Film from Estonia by Tanel Toom (2019)
  • On Shortlist for Oscars 2020 Best International Feature Film
  • Sunday, January 12, 1:30 p.m. (149 min)
  • https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5593384/

Estonia, 1870. Young and staunch Andres along with his wife Krõõt arrive at a farm bought on a loan to establish their new life. Desolate and neglected between the marshes, Robber’s Rise must be transformed into a place that will take care of the family. All they have to do is to break the resistance of the barren land, make his neighbour cooperate, and raise an heir – a son to inherit his father’s life’s work. But when nature refuses to bend, the neighbour turns out to be a roughneck rival, and Krõõt keeps giving birth to daughters, Andres struggles to find the right way. In his desperate search for truth and justice – from the court, the tavern and the Bible, he sacrifices his family, his friends and eventually himself. The beautiful dream of prosperous and nurturing Robber’s Rise gives way to an obsession, resulting in none of the things Andres wanted and everything he was afraid of.


What festival films look interesting to you?

Norway’s Out Stealing Horses is on the top of my list to see. Many others look interesting, but I’m especially intrigued by Iceland’s A White, White Day; Sweden’s The Unpromised Land; and Estonia’s Truth and Justice. What festival films look interesting to you?

A note to Scandi film enthusiasts, this year the festival needs your help more than ever. One of its major funding sources wasn’t available. Please consider helping make up the difference by making a tax-deductible donation. All contributions small and large are welcome. You may donate online or send a check to ASFLA/SFFLA, 3445 Winslow Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90026 (see SFFLA donor brochure). Your contribution is much appreciated!

February 2019 Los Angeles Culture Challenge

February offers many opportunities to discover and explore the richness of Los Angeles. Especially plentiful this month are Lunar New Year celebrations and events celebrating and honoring African American history.

For Scandinavian enthusiasts, this month features the annual Nordic Spirit Symposium, a unique lecture and performance program presented by the Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation and California Lutheran University. The symposium will take place Friday, February 8, and Saturday, February 9, in Thousand Oaks.

This year’s topic is Vikings, Sagas and Runestones: New Findings Change History. “Many exciting Viking era discoveries have been made by archaeologists in recent years, giving a new understanding of the Viking Age… This symposium will treat many of these discoveries and their interpretations. In addition, Icelandic sagas will be treated in two ways new to the symposium series, namely a live drama presentation of The Saga of Gudridur and discussion of putting the sagas to film, illustrated with film clips representing The Saga of Gisli the Outlaw.” For more details on the program and registration, visit their website.

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 2 & 3 *

Museums Annual Free-For-All Day, Saturday, 2/2, & Sunday, 2/3. Dozens of museums—presenting art, cultural heritage, natural history, and science—open their doors and invite visitors to attend their museums free of charge. This offer is for general museum admission only and does not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions. Regular parking fees apply at each museum. Consult individual museum websites for hours, directions, and other visitor information. Visit website to see which museums are participating Saturday only, Sunday only, or both Saturday and Sunday.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 2/2, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of LA’s Chinatown.

China: New Year Dragon Puppet and Treats (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 2/3, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.

Lunar New Year Festival, USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 2/3, 10:00 a.m. Rain or shine, celebrate Lunar New Year at the USC Pacific Asia Museum. The main stage performances include a Lion Dance and martial arts presentation from the Northern Shaolin Kung Fu Association, classical musicians from the Pasadena Symphony, and a special delegation from the Zhejiang Conservatory of Music performing a variety of traditional and contemporary music and dance pieces. There will also be art activities, food trucks, and a musical petting zoo.

Asian Lunar New Year Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 2/3, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Welcome the year of the brave, sincere, and lucky pig! Celebrate with lion, dragon, and classical Asian dance, music, and art projects. Enjoy painting a paper lantern, getting your face painted, and eating a delicious egg roll treat. Fun activities for the entire family. Visit website for complete program.

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 9 & 10 *

Pan African Film + Arts Festival, Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw, Thursday, 2/7, through Monday, 2/18. Experience the largest Black film festival in America. From a $100 million blockbuster premiere to newly emerging Hollywood talent, the Pan African Film + Arts Festival (PAFF) showcases a broad spectrum of Black creative works from all over the globe, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes. Special programs include StudentFest, Saturday Children’s Festival, SpokenWord Fest, LOL Comedy, PAFF Fashion Show, and more.

20th Annual Nordic Spirit Symposium: Vikings, Sagas and Runestones: New Findings Change History, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, Friday, 2/8, & Saturday, 2/9. Many exciting Viking era discoveries have been made by archaeologists in recent years, giving a new understanding of the Viking Age. This symposium will treat many of these discoveries and their interpretations. In addition, Icelandic sagas will be treated in two ways new to the symposium series, namely a live drama presentation of The Saga of Gudridur and discussion of putting the sagas to film, illustrated with film clips representing The Saga of Gisli the Outlaw. For details on program and registration, visit website.

Undiscovered Chinatown *Highlighted* Walking Tour, Chinatown, Saturday, 2/9, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. This is a special walking tour preceding Chinese New Year festivities. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 1 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of LA’s Chinatown. Please rsvp online here.

African-American Art Festival, STAR Eco Station, Culver City, Saturday, 2/9, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Enjoy African drumming and dancing, art exhibits, interactive art projects, BBQ, games, and local vendors at this outdoor festival at STAR Eco Station, an environmental science museum and exotic wildlife rescue center.

Chinese New Year Festival @ Central Plaza, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 2/9, 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. There will be artisan booths featuring brush painting, calligraphy, candy sculpture, clay sculpture, and face painting; arts and craft workshops; a craft and vintage market; a culinary stage; entertainment on Central Plaza Main Stage; live music; roaming performances; food trucks and food booths; a craft beer garden; and more.

120th Annual Golden Dragon Parade, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 2/9, 1:00 p.m. In celebrating over one hundred years of tradition, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles presents the 120th Annual Golden Dragon Parade. With over thousands of individuals lining the parade route and thousands viewing the telecast each year, this colorful celebration along North Broadway in Chinatown has become the premiere cultural event in the Southern California Asian-American Community. The parade includes almost two dozen floats, multiple marching bands, government officials, various dignitaries, entertainers, local business leaders, and cultural groups.

Morocco: Mirrors – Valentine’s Day (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 2/10, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 16 & 17 *

Pan African Film + Arts Festival, Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw, Thursday, 2/7, through Monday, 2/18. This is the last weekend of PAFF where people from around the globe gather to attend the largest Black film festival in the United States. From a $100 million blockbuster premiere to newly emerging Hollywood talent, the Pan African Film + Arts Festival (PAFF) showcases a broad spectrum of Black creative works from all over the globe, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes.

Star System Jewelry Workshop (Kids, Teens & Families Programs), California African American Museum (CAAM), Exposition Park, Saturday, 2/16, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Magical Afro-futuristic themes in Robert Pruitt’s work celebrate the creative potential of the African American community in science, technology, and culture. Taking inspiration from these grand themes in Robert Pruitt – Devotion, make your own astronomy-based beaded necklace or bracelet and learn more about our place in the universe. Ages 5 and up. Space is limited; RSVP required.

Japan: Jomon Clay Pottery (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 2/17, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.

What the World Needs Is… (Kids, Teens & Families Programs), California African American Museum (CAAM), Exposition Park, Sunday, 2/17, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Protest posters played an important role in the Civil Rights rallies and marches depicted in the exhibition Los Angeles Freedom Rally, 1963. Whether mass produced or put together with house paint and cardboard scraps, these posters are iconic for their use of dynamic symbolism and heartfelt—sometimes humorous—language that delivered the movement’s message. Think about how you would complete the phrase “What the world needs is…” with a symbol or words, then make it into a poster. Ages 7 and up.

Lunar New Year Celebration, The Original Farmers Market, 3rd & Fairfax, Sunday, 2/17, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. Join Farmers Market and The Grove for a spectacular Lunar New Year Celebration. Festivities include Chinese Dragon and Lion dances, K-pop dance performances, martial arts demos, a pig statue unveiling and other Year of the Pig themed activities.

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 23 & 24 *

African-American Festival, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday, 2/23, & Sunday, 2/24. Join the Aquarium of the Pacific as it hosts its 17th annual African-American Festival, celebrating the rich diversity of African-American and African cultures. The festival will feature live entertainment and arts and crafts. Festival performers include Mardi Gras second line dancers, hip hop and break dancers, jazz musicians, interactive drum circles, West African dancers, and storytellers.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 2/23, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Learn about past and present-day Little Tokyo on a walking tour led by an in-the-know JANM docent. From murals to monuments, explore both the popular and lesser-known gems of this bustling neighborhood. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission included. Comfortable walking shoes recommended. Weather permitting. Limited to 20 participants.

Mali: Bamana People Animal Cloth (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 2/24, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.

Edible Adventures: Vegetarian Little Tokyo, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Sunday, 2/24, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Take a healthy stroll through Little Tokyo and listen to neighborhood stories while learning about Japanese vegetables from daikon to gobo to maitake, capped off by a macrobiotic lunch at Shojin, a Japanese vegan/macrobiotic restaurant. $48 members; $60 non-members. Food and museum admission included. Limited to 14 participants.

Fowler Families: World Travelers, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 2/24, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Decorate your very own passport before taking an imaginative journey across the globe! Explore and learn about artworks from countries around the world with Fowler Educators while gathering stamps for your passport at each stop.

Feel free to add events for the current month in the comments below. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email the details. Thank you!

Scandinavian Film Festival LA 2019: One Weekend Down, One to Go

Long time subscribers to my blog will know that the Scandinavian Film Festival LA is one of my favorite annual Scandinavian events in the Los Angeles area. This year the festival opened the first weekend in January and it continues this coming weekend, January 19 and 20, in Beverly Hills. The first weekend did not disappoint, and the second looks to be promising as well.

This year the festival celebrates its 20th anniversary. A full house of Nordic film enthusiasts was at the Opening Gala on Saturday evening of the first weekend to celebrate this milestone. Along with a buffet of favorite Scandinavian foods, the festivities included a champagne toast and delicious Princess Cake from Copenhagen Pastry at the end of the evening.

Compared to other film festivals, this is a small one. But it’s very welcoming and friendly. Many festival goers come for multiple screenings. They hang out in the lobby between films. They chat and enjoy food from the Nordic Café, the best part of which is the pastries from none other than Copenhagen Pastry.

Last year I volunteered for the first time and I did so again this year because it was such a fun and rewarding experience. The festival is basically a family-run operation with Jim Koenig as head of the festival and his sister Flo Niermann in charge of ticket sales and volunteers. And they are so grateful for their volunteers.

During the first weekend I saw four films: Sweden’s Border, Denmark’s The Guilty, Iceland’s Woman at War, and Norway’s The 12th Man. I would have seen a fifth, Norway’s What Would People Say, if I hadn’t already seen it (highly recommend it, read more at What Will People Say by Iram Haq: An #OwnVoices Immigrant Story from Norway).

My absolute favorite of the weekend was Iceland’s Woman at War directed by Benedikt Erlingsson. I highly recommend it. Go watch it when it opens in theaters March 1. It’s about a single woman in her fifties who’s an ardent environmentalist intent on sabotaging Iceland’s aluminum industry. She’s independent, bold, and strong — my favorite type of female protagonist. Then suddenly, she receives the unexpected news that she’s been approved to adopt a girl from the Ukraine and she has to rethink her actions. Viewers get glimpses of Iceland’s beautiful landscape. There’s an interesting musical aspect that adds a surreal and humorous touch. The actress Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir is wonderful. (This movie was the winner of Nordic Council Film Prize in 2018.)

I also very much enjoyed Denmark’s thriller/drama The Guilty directed by Gustav Möller. It’s about a police officer who’s been demoted to work as an emergency dispatcher. He expects nothing more than a boring evening answering calls from drunks and druggies. However, he gets a phone call from a woman who’s been kidnapped and so begins a desperate search from his desk for the woman. It is extremely suspenseful with interesting twists. At the same time, viewers wonder and learn more about the officer’s demotion. The lead actor, Jakob Cedergren, is perfect for the role which is good because the whole movie is focused on him.

As a festival bonus, director/writer Gustav Möller and producer Lina Flint were at the screening and answered questions afterward. It’s always interesting to get a glimpse behind the scenes of a movie, and their story as friends from film school in Denmark was a great one. Find out if there’s a showtime near you or watch it at home. Interestingly, there will be an American remake of The Guilty with Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead so see the original before that comes out.

Sweden’s Border directed by Alli Abbas was not at all what I was expecting. I did not do my research properly and went in blindly. I was expecting something realistic about border issues, which was not at all the case. I later saw the movie described as a “dark romantic fantasy fable.” Had I known this, I may have enjoyed it more since my expectations would have been different.

It’s about Tina, a customs officer who uses her extraordinary sense of smell to identify people who are smuggling. She also has an extreme connection to the natural world. One day when traveler Vore walks past, Tina senses something suspicious about him but nothing is found. However, an attraction develops between them, and when Tina begins to develop a relationship with Vore, she discovers his true identity and also learns the truth about herself.

I wrapped up the first weekend with Norway’s The 12th Man directed by Harald Zwart. I brought my family along to this film since I had previously seen it at a special screening at The Museum of Tolerance and thought it was an amazing World War II story of survival, will to live, and kindness to others despite tremendous risk. The movie is based on the true story of Norwegian resistance fighter Jan Baalsrud who was the only one of 12 Norwegian resistance fighters on a mission from Shetland to sabotage Nazi activity in Northern Norway to escape when they were discovered by Nazis. It chronicles his journey towards neutral Sweden which would not have been possible without the kindness and help of locals who risked their own lives.

It turns out my family was not as enthralled with the movie as I was. They thought there was too much brutality (Germans against captured Norwegians), too much gruesomeness (German torture of captured Norwegians and Jan’s physical condition throughout his journey), and too much repetition of plot elements. I thought it was important for my kids to see the local Norwegian resistance in action as both my grandfathers had been a part of it before one escaped to Sweden and the other was sent to a camp in Germany. Also, the Norwegian landscape was beautiful and I loved the unexpected glimpse into Sami culture.

This coming weekend I will see Utøya – July 22 directed by Erik Poppe, a film about a teenage girl who struggles to survive and to find her younger sister during the July 2011 terrorist mass murder at a political summer camp on the Norwegian island of Utøya. I expect it to be a difficult film to watch considering the subject matter. I have read Åsne Seierstad’s non-fiction book One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway — And Its Aftermath so at least I won’t be totally surprised by the scale of terror and horror.

I have not yet decided on which other films to see during the upcoming weekend. It will depend on when I’m there as a volunteer. Estonia’s Take It or Leave It, Sweden’s The Cake General, Denmark’s Becoming Astrid, and Finland’s One Last Deal all look interesting (see schedule). I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about the festival if you’ve been or plan to go.

January 2019: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & Scandinavian Film Festival LA #SFFLA

Happy New Year! January brings new opportunities to venture out and explore the cultural richness of Los Angeles.

January also brings one of my favorite Scandinavian events back to town, the annual Scandinavian Film Festival LA (SFFLA). The festival takes place this weekend, January 5 & 6, in Beverly Hills and continues the weekend of January 19 & 20. For a look at what’s being offered this year, check out 20th Anniversary of Scandinavian Film Festival LA: A Preview. I’ll be at the festival a lot as a volunteer and hope to see you there!

How will you take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer this month?

* WEEKEND OF JANUARY 5 & 6 *

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 1/5, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A’s Chinatown.

Queen of Katwe: Screening + Discussion with the Queen of Katme Herself, Phiona Mutesi, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Saturday, 1/5, 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Witness a celebration of the human spirit in Disney’s Queen of Katwe, the story of a Ugandan girl’s life which changes forever when she discovers her amazing talent for chess. Screening is followed by a discussion with Phiona Mutesi, whose vibrant true story is the subject of the film. Hop over to Kidseum after for a chess demonstration with the Queen of Katwe herself!

Scandinavian Film Festival LA (SFFLA), Writers Guild Theater, Beverly Hills, Saturday, 1/5, & Sunday, 1/6 (also weekend of 1/19 & 1/20). This is a yearly showcase of films from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland and their Baltic neighbors Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The festival not only screens the films submitted by these Nordic and Baltic countries to the Academy for consideration in the “Best Foreign Language Film” category, but also other national feature films, short movies, and documentaries. (See this blog post for more info.)

Canada: Inuit: Standing Sculpture (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 1/6, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.

India Festival of Kites, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 1/6, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Celebrate the beauty and excitement of Indian culture with artmaking, face painting, dance and music including a special performance by SADUBAS, aka The Sadhus of Bass! This duo converges classical Indian rhythms with ‘70s Bollywood vibes to create psychedelic soundscapes that are one part trip-hop and two parts cinematic South Asia. DJ/producer Ameet Mehta and tabla artist Robin Sukhadia present visuals and sound inspired by Bollywood funk and Indian Classical music.

Oshogatsu Family Festival – Year of the Boar, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Sunday, 1/6, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Welcome the Year of the Boar with crafts, food, cultural activities, and performances! Highlights of the day will include live art performances combining taiko and calligraphy; mochitsuki (rice pounding) demonstrations, with mochi samples for tasting; an artist conversation with Mark Nagana followed by a toy and print signing;  tasting of osechi-ryori, traditional Japanese new year foods; and candy sculpting. There will also be a variety of craft activities, souvenir photos, and more. Visit website for schedule of events and activities.

Three Kings Day / Dia de los Reyes, Olvera Street, Downtown LA, Sunday, 1/6, 6:30 p.m. Celebrate the arrival of Los Tres Reyes, also known as the Ephiphany. Hear the story of the journey taken by Three Kings, or Wise Men, to find Jesus after his birth. Though the celebration has Christian and Catholic roots, all are welcome to participate. Rondalla del Sol will perform for the evening and then guests are invited to follow the Kings to the rosca. The traditional rosca, or sweet bread, is given to all in attendance. Inside of the bread are randomly placed plastic babies (representing the baby Jesus). Tradition dictates that the person(s) who finds the baby has to plan the party for next year. But at Olvera Street, the lucky ones who find these babies will win a prize that evening—a gift from the Kings!

* WEEKEND OF JANUARY 12 & 13 *

USA: MLK I Have A Dream Collage (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 1/13, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.

Fowler Families: Being Brave: Tell Your Story, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 1/13, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. What does bravery mean to you? Children of all ages are invited to explore this question in a zine making workshop. Join Fowler Educators for a 15-minute guided tour exploring bravery in the permanent exhibition Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives before learning how to illustrate your own courageous tale. Guided tours begin at 1:00 p.m. and occur every 30 minutes.

* MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. WEEKEND OF JANUARY 19 & 20 & 21 *

Scandinavian Film Festival LA (SFFLA), Writers Guild Theater, Beverly Hills, Saturday, 1/19, & Sunday, 1/20. Don’t miss the second weekend of SFFLA, a yearly showcase of films from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland and their Baltic neighbors Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The festival not only screens the films submitted by these Nordic and Baltic countries to the Academy for consideration in the “Best Foreign Language Film” category, but also other national feature films, short movies, and documentaries. (See this blog post for more info.)

Greece: Mosaic Gods and Goddesses (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 1/20, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.

Sand Mandala: Opening Blessing Ceremony, USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 1/20, 12:00 p.m. USC Pacific Asia Museum is proud to host Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monaster. They will spend one week creating a sand mandala, a Tibetan Buddhist tradition that involves the creation and destruction of paintings made from colored sand. Once completed, it is ritualistically dismantled to symbolize the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of material life. The opening blessing ceremony will take place on Sunday, January 20, at 12:00 p.m. and the closing dissolution ceremony will take place on Saturday, January 26, at 12:00 p.m. Museum visitors will be able to observe the creation of the mandala during regular public open hours. Free with museum admission.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Los Angeles, Monday, 1/21, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by surrounding yourself with art, culture, and community. Enjoy an array of vibrant programs and activities for all ages. Bring the kids for art-making activities, a march, and delicious food truck fare; visit our exhibitions, hear a marathon reading of King’s lesser-known speeches and sermons, groove to DJ-provided tunes, and much more—free for everyone! Visit website for schedule of events and activities.

* WEEKEND OF JANUARY 26 & 27 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 1/26, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Learn about past and present-day Little Tokyo on a walking tour led by an in-the-know JANM docent. From murals to monuments, explore both the popular and lesser-known gems of this bustling neighborhood. Buy tickets in advance. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants. Weather permitting.

Sand Mandala: Closing Dissolution Ceremony, USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Saturday, 1/26, 12:00 p.m. USC Pacific Asia Museum is proud to host Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monaster. They will spend one week creating a sand mandala, a Tibetan Buddhist tradition that involves the creation and destruction of paintings made from colored sand. Once completed, it is ritualistically dismantled to symbolize the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of material life. The opening blessing ceremony will take place on Sunday, January 20, at 12:00 p.m. and the closing dissolution ceremony will take place on Saturday, January 26, at 12:00 p.m. Museum visitors will be able to observe the creation of the mandala during regular public open hours. Free with museum admission.

France: Clay Gargoyle Sculpture (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 1/27, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.

Fowler Families: Doors to Our Dreams, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 1/27, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Discover the elaborately carved doors featured in the special exhibition World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean before illustrating your own door using paper and a variety of mark-making materials. Find inspiration as a Fowler Educator reads David Weale’s short story Doors in the Air, in which a young boy marvels at how stepping through a doorway can transport him from one world to another. Where will your door lead you? The reading will occur in this special exhibition at 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.

Feel free to add events for the current month in the comments below. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email the details. Thank you!

20th Anniversary of Scandinavian Film Festival LA: A Preview of #SFFLA 2019

Is one of your new year’s resolutions to broaden your horizons by seeing and reading more foreign movies and books? You can start making progress on that goal the first weekend of the new year by attending the annual Scandinavian Film Festival Los Angeles (SFFLA) in Beverly Hills. It takes place the weekends of January 5 & 6 and 19 & 20. Join SFFLA as they celebrate their 20th anniversary this year!

Despite its name, the scope of the festival actually extends beyond Scandinavia. Besides films from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, you can view films from the Nordic countries Iceland and Finland as well as Baltic neighbors Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.

Once again this year, you will have the opportunity to see all the Nordic and Baltic countries’ submissions for Best Foreign Language Film for the upcoming 91st Academy Awards (although only Denmark’s selection made it to the shortlist):

  • Norway – What Will People Say by Iram Haq
  • Sweden – Border by Ali Abbasi
  • Denmark – The Guilty by Gustav Möller
  • Iceland – Woman at War by Benedikt Erlingsson
  • Finland – Euthanizer by Teemu Nikki
  • Latvia – To Be Continued by Ivars Seleckis
  • Estonia – Take It or Leave It by Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo
  • Lithuania – Wonderful Losers: A Different World by Arūnas Matelis

At the SFFLA Opening Gala on Saturday, January 5, at 5:30 p.m., you can enjoy drinks and a buffet meal with other Scandi film enthusiasts. Gala tickets (a great deal at only $40 each!) also include Opening Ceremonies at 7:15 p.m. and the screening of Denmark’s feature film The Guilty at 7:30 p.m. as well as a Q&A with director Gustav Möller. Buy your gala tickets now!

Below you’ll find a list of films by country. Descriptions are taken from the festival’s website. You can also view and download a chronological schedule. SFFLA Festival Passports which allow admission to all screenings and Opening Gala are available for $140, or you can buy tickets for individual films for $12 each online or at the door. Please confirm schedule with SFFLA as it may change after this post is published. Hope to see you there!


* NORWAY *

What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si)

  • Feature Film by Iram Haq (2017)
  • Screening: Sunday, 1/6, 3:00 p.m. (106 minutes)

Sixteen-year-old Nisha lives a double life. When out with her friends, she’s a normal Norwegian teenager. At home with her family, she is the perfect Pakistani daughter. But when her father catches her alone with her boyfriend in her room, Nisha’s two worlds brutally collide.

Morgen

  • Short Film by Knut Erik Jensen (2018)
  • Screening: Sunday, 1/6, 7:00 p.m. (15 min)

It can seem like we are living on the edge of the world. But one morning 200,000 soldiers march into our arctic landscape. Four years later they stumble out leaving everything in ruins. As if nothing has happened. What in human nature triggers violent acts of war, thousands of miles into the wild? Can it happen again? As the ice melts?

The 12th Man (Den 12. mann)

  • Feature Film by Harald Zwart (2018)
  • Screening: Sunday, 1/6, 7:30 p.m. (135 min)

True World War II story about Jan Baalsrud, one of the 12 saboteurs sent in 1943 from England to the Nazi occupied Northern Norway. After their boat is sunk by the Germans, the Nazis killed 11 of them. The 12th man, Jan, goes on the run towards the neutral Sweden. However, the brutal weather conditions turn out to be an even greater foe than the Nazi patrols.

The Green Valley

  • Short Film by Ellen Ugelstad (2018)
  • Screening: Sunday, 1/20, 4:30 p.m. (24 min)

The Green Valley is a short film that explores the connection between politics, art and daily life in a multicultural neighborhood in Oslo. The film is inspired by three real events that took place in the director’s neighborhood.

Utøya – July 22 (Utøya 22. juli)

  • Feature Film by Erik Poppe (2018)
  • Screening: Sunday, 1/20, 5:00 p.m. (93 min)

A teenage girl struggles to survive and to find her younger sister during the July 2011 terrorist mass murder at a political summer camp on the Norwegian island of Utøya.

*Note: Do not confuse this film with the similarly named movie 22 July directed by Paul Greenglass which also came out in 2018. Greenglass’ work is a documentary style film based on the non-fiction book One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway — And Its Aftermath by Åsne Seierstad (available to stream on Netflix), while Poppe’s film is a one-take feature shot in real time of the day the youth summer camp was attacked. Read more at Utøya-July 22 recreates the terror attack in one remarkable shot.


* SWEDEN *

Border (Gräns)

  • Feature Film by Alli Abbas (2018)
  • Screening: Saturday, 1/5, 2:30 p.m. (101 min)

Customs officer Tina is known for her extraordinary sense of smell – she can sniff out fear on anyone. But when Vore walks past her, her abilities are challenged for the first time. Tina can sense Vore is hiding something she can’t identify. Worse, she feels a strange attraction to him. This fateful encounter calls into question her entire existence.

Ted: Show Me Love (Ted – För kärlekens skull)

  • Feature Film by Hannes Holm (2018)
  • Screening: Saturday, 1/19, 12:30 p.m. (121 min)

Chronicling the beautiful and tragic life and career of legendary Swedish singer-songwriter Ted Gärdestad, this biopic tells the story of the great highs and lows of one of Sweden’s most loved artists.

The Cake General (Tårtgeneralen)

  • Feature Film by Filip Hammar and Fredrik Wikingsson (2018)
  • Screening: Saturday, 1/19, 7:30 p.m. (101 min)

Set in 1984, Hans Pettersson (Hasse P.) decides to create the largest sandwich cake ever made in order to put his hometown, Köping, on the map.


* DENMARK *

The Guilty (Den skyldige)

When police officer Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) is demoted to desk work, he expects a sleepy beat as an emergency dispatcher. That all changes when he answers a panicked phone call from a kidnapped woman who then disconnects abruptly. Asger, confined to the police station, is forced to use others as his eyes and ears as the severity of the crime slowly becomes more clear. The search to find the missing woman and her assailant will take every bit of his intuition and skill, as a ticking clock and his own personal demons conspire against him.

Becoming Astrid (Unga Astrid)

  • Feature Film by Pernille Fischer Christensen (2018)
  • Screening: Sunday, 1/20, 2:00 p.m. (123 min)

This is a biopic of Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, the author of numerous children’s books and creator of Pippi Longstocking.

 


* ICELAND *

Mihkel (Undir Halastjörnu)

  • Feature Film by Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon (2018)
  • Screening: Saturday, 1/5, 10:30 a.m. (100 min)

This movie is based on true events from a 2004 criminal case in Iceland where a body was discovered by chance by a diver in the Neskaupstaður harbor. 

Woman at War (Kona fer í stríð)

Halla, a woman in her fifties, declares war on the local aluminum industry to prevent it from disfiguring her country. She risks all she has to protect the highlands of Iceland but the situation could change with the unexpected arrival of a small orphan in her life.

Vultures (Vargur)

  • Feature Film by Börkur Sigþórsson (2018)
  • Screening: Saturday, 1/19, 5:30 p.m.

Sharp-suited Erik represents the aspirational face of modern Iceland. Atli, a petty criminal just released from prison, is stuck in a downward spiral. The distance between these two very different brothers vanishes when the duo teams up to smuggle cocaine into Iceland, inside plastic pellets swallowed by a young Polish mule, Sofia. But things go wrong when rule-breaking cop Lena starts closing in on them and Sofia falls sick. With the drugs yet to reach their destination and a rival gang demanding a slice of the action, time is a luxury that the brothers can’t afford. Charismatic anti-hero Erik’s ability to stay one step ahead is tested to the limit – how many lives is he willing to sacrifice to sustain his own?


* FINLAND *

Euthanizer (Armomurhaaja)

This violent summer noir tells the story of Veijo, a 50-year-old mechanic, whose second job is to put sick pets to sleep. He’s also an animal whisperer and prefers to personally deliver justice to careless owners who neglect their pets. His unconventional but meticulously organized life is disrupted when he comes across Petri, a garage mechanic and member of a neo-Nazi gang, and Lotta, a young nurse who understands his psychosis. The themes revolve around animal rights, suffering and death. But the real story is not about good or evil – it’s about intolerance and the stupidity of absolute men.

Unknown Soldier (Tuntematon sotilas)

  • Feature Film by Aku Lohimies (2018)
  • Screening: Sunday, 1/6, 4:30 p.m. (132 min)

Based on novel of the same name by Váinö Linna, the film follows a fictional Finnish Army machine gun company on the Karelian front during the War from 1941 when the troops prepare for the invasion of the Soviet Union until armistice in 1944. The author himself had served in such a company.

Rendel: Dark Vengeance

  • Feature Film by Jesse Haaja (2017)
  • Screening: Saturday, 1/19, 10:00 a.m. (104 min)

A Finnish superhero, a masked vigilante Rendel, seeks for revenge and fights against VALA, the huge criminal organization.

One Last Deal (Tuntematon mestari)

  • Feature Film by Klaus Härö (2018)
  • Screening: Sunday, 1/20, 7:30 p.m. (95 min)

An elderly art dealer Olavi (72) is about to retire. A man who has always put business and art before everything – even his family – cannot imagine life without work. At an auction, an old painting catches his attention. Olavi suspects it is worth much more than its starting price, which is low because its authenticity hasn’t been confirmed. Olavi’s instincts kick in. He decides to make one last deal in order to earn some proper pension money. At the same time, Olavi’s daughter Lea (42) – whom he hasn’t seen for years – asks him to help her with his teenage grandson Otto (15). Together with Otto, Olavi starts to investigate the background of the painting. They find out that the painting is called Christ and was painted by Ilya Repin. Olavi manages to buy the painting, but when the auction house realizes that there has been a mistake with the original pricing, they turn against him. To fulfill his dream, the old dealer must face both the auction house and his own past mistakes.


* LATVIA *

To Be Continued (Turpinājums)

  • Feature Documentary by Ivars Seleckis (2018)
  • Screening: Saturday, 1/5, 12:45 p.m. (101 min)

Ivars Seleckis takes a look at five children and their families from throughout Latvia. Shot over a period of two years, the film explores how choices made by adults are reflected in a child’s thinking.

 


* ESTONIA *

Three Days in August (Kolm peeve augustis)

  • Short Film by Madli Lāane (2018)
  • Screening: Saturday, 1/19, 2:30 p.m. (22 min)

In the midst of the political upheaval of the early 1990s in Soviet Union, an Estonian girl and a Russian boy reach across cultural lines to unite over a shared bottle of American soda.

Take It or Leave It (Võta või jäta)

  • Feature Film by Liina Triškina-Vanhatalo (2018)
  • Screening: Saturday, 1/19, 3:00 p.m. (102 min)

One sleepy Saturday morning a 30-year-old construction worker Erik gets some earth shattering news: his ex-girlfriend Moonika who he hasn’t even seen for the past six months is about to go into labor. She however is not ready for motherhood and if Erik doesn’t want the kid either, the little girl will be put up for adoption. Take it or leave it!

 


* LITHUANIA *

Wonderful Losers: A Different World

  •  Feature Documentary by Arūnas Matelis (2018)
  • Screening: Sunday, 1/21, 2:00 p.m. (71 min)

They’re called water carriers, domestics, ‘gregarios’, ‘Sancho Panzas’ of professional cycling. Always at the back of the group, with no right for a personal victory. These wonderful losers are the true warriors of professional cycling.

 


What festival films look interesting to you?

I have actually already seen two of the movies to be presented, both of which I highly recommend. I saw What Will People Say, an #ownvoices immigrant story from Norway, at AFI Fest in November 2017. It was a moving and thought-provoking filmThe 12th Man is an amazing World World II story of survival and will to live and kindness to others despite tremendous risk that I saw just recently at a special engagement at Museum of Tolerance. I plan to bring my family to see it at SFFLA this year.

There are many films I’m personally interested in seeing. I am currently reading Åsne Seierstad’s One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway — And Its Aftermath and plan to see Greenglass’ 22 July on Netflix at some point. Poppe’s Utøya – July 22 seems to be a totally different take on the same event so I’m very eager to see that, though I think it will be an extremely tough film to watch. Other films at the top of my to-watch list are Sweden’s Border, Denmark’s The Guilty, and Iceland’s Woman at War. Can’t wait for the screenings to start. Will I see you there?