Virtual Nordic Events for October 2020

Virtual events continue to flourish. There are author talks and panels, film and documentary screenings, cooking workshops, art talks and craft workshops, and festivals on the schedule for October that can all be experienced from the comfort of your own computer. Be sure to visit last month’s Virtual Scandinavian Events for events that happened in September. Many of them are available to view after the fact as saved recordings.

For me, September was a busy month of virtual events. I particularly enjoyed the launch event for Norwegian author Agnes Ravatn’s new psychological thriller The Seven Doors which translator Rosie Hedger also joined. I found the Dual Citizenship Webinar hosted by Norwegian Honorary Consulate General, Minneapolis, MN, very informative and helpful. Of particular interest to me were the discussions on reinstating Norwegian citizenship (for me) and retention of Norwegian citizenship (for my kids). If either of these topics are of interest to you and you missed the webinar, you can view a recording of the webinar.

I hope you find something of interest for October. Among other things, I’m looking forward to the October Family Norwegian Language Adventure – Friluftsliv with Vesterheim, The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center‘s Folk Art School in Decorah, Iowa. I signed up during the registration period in September and received my “special adventure kit” in the mail the other day and am eagerly awaiting October 1 to open it (per the instructions). In it we’ll find language activities, reference sheets, a hands-on craft activity, snack (!), and directions for using the Goosechase app.

Don’t forget that October 4 is Kanelbullens dag or Cinnamon Bun Day. Seize this opportunity to make your own cinnamon buns! I can recommend Daytona Strong’s Scandinavian Cinnamon Buns.

I would love to hear about any events or activities you attend in October!


Ongoing Events

The Painter and the Thief at BFI London Film Festival (Starting October 8)

Winner of the Creative Storytelling Prize at Sundance, Norwegian documentary filmmaker Benjamin Ree’s “expertly plotted, genre-blending documentary explores the personal repercussions of an extraordinary art heist… The sheer audacity of the theft of artist Barbora Kysilkova’s enormous paintings from the windows of an Oslo gallery immediately piqued documentarian Benjamin Ree’s interest. Neither he, Kysilkova nor the perpetrators could have predicted what happened next.” Available starting October 8 on BFI Player. Visit BFI London Film Festival’s film page for details.

Virtual Cinema: Out Stealing Horses (Norway)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is hosting a virtual cinema presentation of Out Stealing Horses, a film based on the award-winning novel by Norwegian author Per Petterson. Immediately following the film there will be a pre-recorded discussion between Stellan Skarsgård and filmmaker Hans Petter Moland. Half of proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Virtual Cinema: A White, White Day (Iceland)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is also hosting a virtual cinema presentation of the hit Icelandic film A White, White Day with Film Movement. A White, White Day is an emotionally complex exploration of the ravages of loss set across the hypnotic landscape of Iceland. Half of proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Baldishol: A Medieval Norwegian Tapestry Inspires Contemporary Textiles
(Virtual Exhibit at Norway House, Minneapolis, MN)

The medieval Baldishol tapestry from 1180 is the oldest known Norwegian tapestry and one of the oldest in Europe and is a national treasure familiar to most Norwegians. This exhibit features 26 works by local, national, and international fiber artists who draw inspiration from the Baldishol. Enjoy the Baldishol exhibit, along with accompanying artist statements and bios, in this virtual exhibit.


Date-Specific Events

Virtual Nordic Stories (for Kids): The Fat Cat (October 1, 10:00 a.m. PST)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for story time and a craft with their special guest, librarian Sara Jensen. Listen to the Danish folk tale The Fat Cat by Jack Kent, and then after the story Sara will teach kids how to make their own cat with items found at home.

Virtual Book Talk: The Bell in the Lake with Lars Mytting (October 1, 6:00 p.m. ET)

This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Norwegian author Lars Mytting joins us for a virtual book launch event on The Bell in the Lake, an engrossing epic novel and #1 bestseller in Norway about a young woman with a mystical fate, available in English translation from The Overlook Press beginning September 29.” For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Fall Folk Festival (October 2-4)

Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses from around the globe together in one online location during the absence of in-person festivals. Friday, October 2, – Sunday, October 4, join Virtual Fall Folk Festival to discover unique Nordic products, take advantage of discounts, and win give-aways! For more information, visit Virtual Fall Folk Festival on Facebook.

Leif Eriksson International Festival (October 2-11)

The Leif Eriksson International Festival was formed in 1987 to establish an annual festival to celebrate Nordic cultural roots in the United States. Over the years, the events have brought top-ranked Nordic talent to Minneapolis. This year’s event will be virtual and feature a variety of programming including both live-streaming and pre-recorded musical performances, online worship services, and daily “destinations of the day”. Click here for the 2020 LEIF Program.

Scandinavian Crisp Bread Baking Workshop (October 3, 11:00 a.m. PST)

Ever wonder how that extraordinary crisp bread is made? Join Scandinavian School in San Francisco and native Dane Leda Jessen for a traditional baking event and get the chance to learn the secrets to how the bread gets its crisp. You will be sent a list of ingredients needed prior to the event, and together with Leda you will bake the day away. For more information and to register, visit The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center’s event page.

Virtual Documentary Screening: We Carry It Within Us (October 4-18)

We Carry it Within Us by director Helle Stenum investigates collective memory and different perspectives on the shared colonial past between Denmark and U.S. Virgin Islands. In We Carry It Within Us, the legacy of slavery, the memory of the Danish presence, the sale of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, and the relationship of the islands to the U.S., are told through interviews conducted on St. Croix, in New York, and in Copenhagen. You can view the movie online October 4–18.

Virtual Nordic Art Crash Course: Discovering Artists Emil and Dines Carlsen (October 4, 2:00 p.m. PST)

National Nordic Museum’s Director of Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs Leslie Anne Anderson will trace the career of Danish-American artists Dines Carlsen (1901-66) and his son (Søren) Emil Carlsen. This behind-the-scenes virtual talk will share the plans for an upcoming exhibition devoted to the artist and display selections from the Museum’s newly acquired collection of 943 drawings by Dines Carlsen. For more information and to register visit National Nordic Museum’s event page.

Virtual Panel: Icelandic Authors You Should Know (October 6, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on Icelandic literature with The Imposter Poets, a poetry collective made up of members Thórdís Helgadóttir, Thóra Hjörleifsdóttir, Fríða Ísberg, Ragnheiður Harpa Leifsdóttir, Sunna Dís Másdóttir, and Melkorka Ólafsdóttir, moderated by author and translator Larissa Kyzer. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both English and in Icelandic, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Icelandic literature today. For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Virtual Cinema: The Blinding Sea (October 9 – November 5)

This October, Scandinavia House is excited to present virtual screenings of The Blinding Sea, a new film by George Tombs that explores the life and loves of Roald Amundsen (1872-1928). “The Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen hungered for ice-choked seas and desert places — but more than that, he had a passionate interest in acquiring new knowledge… Shot on locations including an icebreaker wintering in the Beaufort Sea, a tall ship on the Southern Ocean, on dog-team in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic, as well as the glaciers of Antarctica and Norway, the film combines factual accuracy with bold story-telling, a cross-cultural approach, oral histories, a focus on physical and psychological health, and the refreshing eye-witness perspective of an acclaimed biographer.” Director George Tombs will join a virtual film talk to accompany the release on October 13. For more information, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Leif Erikson Day with Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation (SACHF) and Norseman Lodge, Sons of Norway (October 9, 7:00 p.m. PT)

Dr. Samuel Claussen, Assistant Professor of History at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA, will examine Leif Erikson’s activities and family in light of the intersections of law, feud, and vengeance. The Erikson family members, especially Leif’s father, were encouraged in their exploring lifestyle due to problems with the law and society in which they operated. Also, Howard Rockstad will briefly discuss the history of Leif Erikson Day and the annual presidential proclamations, including the southern California Leif Erikson Association responsible for congressional authorization of the presidential proclamations. Join the Zoom meeting on October 9.

Kransekake Class with Norway House in Minneapolis, MN (October 10, 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. CT)

A kransekake is the commanding centerpiece dessert at Norwegian weddings, graduations, baptisms, and other major life events. Made with ground almonds and consisting of tiers of wreath-shaped layers, the cake has a rich taste and texture that is uniquely its own. Learn to make this impressive cake with Brenda Lewis. Brenda will walk you through the steps of making a kransekake in this hands-on class and give you the confidence to bake one on your own. On Saturday, October 10, Brenda is teaching two sessions of the same class. For more information, visit Norway House’s event page.

Virtual Panel: Finnish Authors You Should Know (October 13, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on Finnish literature with Selja Ahava, Rosa Liksom, Johanna Sinisalo, and Antti Tuomainen, moderated by author and translator Lola Rogers. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both English and in Finnish, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Finnish literature today. For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Virtual Film Talk: The Blinding Sea with Director George Tombs (October 13, 7:00 p.m. ET)

In coordination with the virtual cinema presentation of The Blinding Sea, a new film exploring the life and loves of Roald Amundsen (1872-1928), director George Tombs joins for a discussion on the film on Tuesday, October 13. Tombs will discuss the explorer as well as the making of this film, which was shot on locations ranging from icebreakers in the Beaufort Sea to glaciers of Antarctica and Norway, as well as his focus on incorporating a cross-cultural approach, oral histories, a focus on physical and psychological health, and eye-witness perspectives to the film. Registration is required; visit Scandinavia House’s event page for more details.

IWR An Introduction to Icelandic Authors (October 14, 9:00 a.m. PDT)

Hosted by Iceland Writers Retreat and Reykjavík Bókmenntaborg UNESCO, this panel will feature writer, poet and former IWR faculty Gerður Kristný, crime writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir, poet and former IWR volunteer Fríða Ísberg, and writer and poet Mazen Maarouf. Moderated by IWR Co-Founder Eliza Reid. Co-presented with Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature. The event will be broadcast on the Facebook page of @Icelandwritersretreat.

Braid and finish a beautiful bracelet inspired by the Sámi art of tenntråd, or pewter wire art. 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. This is a live virtual class taught over Zoom. This is a participatory class and spots are intentionally limited to allow interaction between students and the instructor. The class is currently sold out, but you may call to be added to a waitlist. Please visit American Swedish Institute’s event page for more details.

Meet the Author—A Nordic Book Series: The Man Who Played with Fire (October 18, 12:00 p.m. PST)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for an intimate series of virtual book talks where you get to “meet the author”! Each talk is moderated by Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma and will include an opportunity to ask questions to the authors. For the first talk meet Jan Stocklassa who will discuss his book The Man Who Played with Fire, translated by Tara F. Chace. For details about the book and registration information, visit the National Nordic Museum’s event page.

Virtual Panel: Faroese Authors You Should Know (October 20, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on literature from the Faroe Islands with Rakel Helmsdal, Carl Jóhan Jensen, and Marjun Syderbø Kjælnes, moderated by translator Kerri Pierce. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both the original language and in English, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Faroese literature today.

Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Group): Jo Nesbø’s The Redbreast (October 21, 7:00-8:15 p.m. CDT)

Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat, discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Join in October to discuss The Redbreast, the third book in the Harry Hole detective series by Jo Nesbø. For more information and to register, visit their event page.

Virtual Crafts & Cocktails (October 22, 6:00 p.m. PST)

Recharge from your day with an evening of creativity and fun! Join National Nordic Museum’s virtual Crafts & Cocktails event to learn a cocktail recipe and make a Nordic craft using supplies you have around the house. For registration information, visit the National Nordic Museum’s event page.

Virtual Panel — Norwegian Authors You Should Know (October 27, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on Norwegian literature with Jan Grue, Roy Jacobsen, Kaja Kvernbakken, and Ruth Lillegraven, moderated by author and translator Karen Havelin. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both English and Norwegian, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Norwegian literature today. For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.


Online Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY

The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. It now meets bi-weekly online. Here are their upcoming meetings. Click the dates for more information and to register.

  • October 6: The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri (translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies)
  • October 20: The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting (translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin)
  • November 3: Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen (translated from the Finnish by David Hackston)
  • November 17: Companions by Christina Hesselholdt (translated from the Danish by Paul Russell Garrett)

I hope you found something of interest for the month ahead. Feel free to reach out to me if you have events to share.

Virtual Scandinavian Events for September 2020

One silver lining of the pandemic is that organizations are pivoting to online events allowing interested folk from all over to attend. I have certainly taken advantage of that in the past few months and look forward to continuing.

Here are some Scandinavian virtual events and entertainment (plus some Icelandic and Finnish) that have popped up on my radar for the fall. I will continue to add events as I learn of them.

If you are interested in Nordic literature or Scandinavian TV and film, scroll to the end for information on a Nordic Book Club now available online and Scandinavian shows recently added to Netflix.


Virtual Cinema: Out Stealing Horses (Norway) – Ongoing

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is hosting a virtual cinema presentation of Out Stealing Horses, a film based on the award-winning novel by Norwegian author Per Petterson. Immediately following the film there will be a pre-recorded discussion between Stellan Skarsgård and filmmaker Hans Petter Moland. Half of proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s Facebook event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Virtual Cinema: A White, White Day (Iceland) – Ongoing

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is also hosting a virtual cinema presentation of the hit Icelandic film A White, White Day with Film Movement. A White, White Day is an emotionally complex exploration of the ravages of loss set across the hypnotic landscape of Iceland. Half of proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s Facebook event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

October Family Norwegian Language Adventure – Friluftsliv
(With Vesterheim Folk Art School, Decorah, Iowa)

Join this adventure anytime between September 12 and September 21. The adventure starts October 1 and will focus on friluftsliv, the Norwegian concept of embracing outdoor living. “Join us for this family-fun outdoor adventure and learn some Norwegian language along the way! Your “family” could be any combination of adult or adults and child or children, all who are ready to have fun and learn some norsk are welcome! Through hands-on activities, fun crafts, light hearted games and short videos, you and your family will learn and practice your new Norwegian skills both indoors and outside. A kit will be delivered right to your home containing supplies for these language activities, a helpful reference sheet for all the new words and expressions you will be learning, a fun craft, and a yummy snack.” These activities are designed for families with children ages 5-15. Click here for more information and to sign up.

Baldishol: A Medieval Norwegian Tapestry Inspires Contemporary Textiles
(Virtual Exhibit at Norway House, Minneapolis, MN)

The medieval Baldishol tapestry from 1180 is the oldest known Norwegian tapestry and one of the oldest in Europe and is a national treasure familiar to most Norwegians. This exhibit features 26 works by local, national, and international fiber artists who draw inspiration from the Baldishol. Enjoy the Baldishol exhibit, along with accompanying artist statements and bios, in this virtual exhibit.

Virtual Book Talk: The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri (September 9)

This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Jonas Hassen Khemiri, the acclaimed author of Montecore, joins us for a Virtual Talk to discuss The Family Clause, a novel about a family on the verge of collapse, which will be released in English translation beginning on August 25.” For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Virtual Nordic Cooking with Morten Sohlberg: Zucchini & Squash (September 10)

This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Join us for a special Nordic virtual cooking event! Morten Sohlberg, the chef and owner of Smörgås Chef restaurant at Scandinavia House, will present an online demo of making one of his favorite late summer dishes — roasted zucchini and squash coated with ricotta, parmesan, and various herbs and spices.” This event will take place as a YouTube Premiere on Thursday, September 10, at 6 p.m. ET at the link: https://bit.ly/2GeVGvv.

ABBA Salute Concert Online! (September 13, 2:00 p.m. PT)

“ABBA Salute is quite literally the most accurate tribute band on the planet. With painstaking attention to detail, they’ve recreated an ABBA experience that comes to life in a Las Vegas style show. Join the Swedish American Museum in Chicago and Vasa Park for a special online concert that is free but we do appreciate donations to help us through this time.” For more information and to get the link for the event, click here.

Dual Citizenship Webinar (September 15, 12:00 p.m. CT)

Join Norwegian Honorary Consulate General, Minneapolis for a free webinar to learn about Norway’s new dual citizenship law and how it may affect you. Topics include reinstatement of former Norwegian citizenship, how to apply for US citizenship, and more. The presentation will conclude with a Q & A session. Questions must be submitted in advance. For more information and to register, click here.

Equity, Inclusion, and Immigration in the Nordic Countries (September 15)

This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Nordic countries are often seen as models of equity, equality, and social justice. But what are the ways that the Nordic countries are approaching the inequalities that they still face? In this virtual panel, four distinguished guests — Swedish hip-hop artist Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité, Swedish author Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Danish author Simon Pasternak, and Swedish-Ethiopian chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson — will join us for a discussion on recent cultural contributions and voices who continue to discuss inequality both in the Nordic countries and the U.S.”

Vista Viking Festival Online (September 19 & 20)

This year, experience Vista Viking Festival Online. “We are living in a new age, and we are not able to gather this year. So we are expanding our virtual territories beyond the festival gates. Bringing our family closer to yours. Set sail with us online, September 19 & 20, 2020.”

Sweden’s Response to the Coronavirus with Lars Trägårdh (September 23)

American-Scandinavian Foundation invites you to a follow-up online discussion with Swedish historian, author and social commentator Lars Trägårdh as he discusses the current situation in Sweden in controlling the coronavirus. Sweden adopted a controversial approach to the pandemic, avoiding mandatory lock-down and instead stressing voluntary distancing and keeping the country open, most importantly pre- and primary schools. Initially Sweden experienced higher numbers of infection and death rate than many of their Nordic counterparts; since June, however, both infection and mortality rates are radically down. Hear how this strategy has evolved in Sweden as Europe at large is experiencing, or bracing for, a second wave.

Launch Event for Agnes Ravatn’s The Seven Doors (September 23, 7:00 p.m. UK)

“To celebrate the launch of Agnes Ravatn’s exquisitely written psychological thriller The Seven Doors, Orenda Books is delighted to present Tartan Noir author Michael J. Malone interviewing critically acclaimed Norwegian author Agnes Ravatn and her translator, Rosie Hedger.” The event is free and will take place on Zoom, For more information and how to get the link, visit Orenda Books’ event page.

Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Group) to Discuss The Nordic Theory of Everything (September 24, 7:00 p.m. CT)

Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Join on Thursday, September 24, at 7:00 p.m. CDT to discuss Finnish journalist Anu Partanen’s The Nordic Theory of Everything. Read more about the event and register here.

Virtual Panel — Danish Authors You Should Know (September 29, 2:00 p.m. ET)

Scandinavia House’s new series Nordic Authors You Should Know begins with a focus on Danish literature with Shadi Angelina Bazeghi, Jonas Eika, Maja Lee Langvad, Dorthe Nors, and Ursula Andkjær Olsen, moderated by author and translator Katrine Øgaard Jensen. For more information, visit Scandinavia House’s page.

Policing & Police Reform in the Nordic Countries: Virtual Panel (September 30, 1:00 p.m. ET)

This virtual panel is hosted by ASF + Scandinavia House. “In contrast to the United States, the Nordic countries have their own unique approaches to law enforcement that have evolved out of histories with different racial and economic politics. As calls for police reform continue to be debated at every level of government in the U.S., three panelists from the Nordic countries join us to discuss policing and police reform in those countries: Lars Holmberg (Professor of Law, JUR Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law, University of Copenhagen), Kimmo Himberg (Senior Researcher, the Police University College, Tampere, Finland), and Margrét Valdimarsdóttir (Assistant Professor of Police Science at the University of Akureyri).”

Politics & Prose Live! Vigdis Hjorth | Long Live the Post Horn! with Sheila Heti (September 30, 4:00 p.m. ET)

Hosted by Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., this event is presented in partnership with the Royal Norwegian Embassy. Norwegian author Vigdis Hjorth sits down with fellow author Sheila Heti to discuss her new novel, Long Live the Post Horn! For more information and to register for this free event, click here.


Online Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY

The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. It now meets bi-weekly online. Here are their upcoming meetings. Click the dates for more information and to register.

  • September 8: The Summer House by Philip Teir (translated from the Swedish by Tiina Nunnally)
  • September 22: Miss Iceland by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir (translated from the Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon)
  • October 6: The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri (translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies)
  • October 20: The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting (translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin)
  • November 3: Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen (translated from the Finnish by David Hackston)
  • November 17: Companions by Christina Hesselholdt (translated from the Danish by Paul Russell Garrett)

Borderless Book Club 

In response to the Covid-19 crisis and the lockdown order, Peirene Press, in collaboration with several other small presses, created the Borderless Book Club. Meetings are held on Thursday evenings at 8:00 p.m. UK time via Zoom. Participation is free. They exclusively discuss translated literature. For more information and to view the current fall program and to access previous meetings (which includes books by Scandinavian authors), visit Borderless Book Club.


New to Netflix: Scandinavian Movies & TV Shows

Borgen (Seasons 1-3) – A Danish political thriller, available in your preferred audio language. Netflix description: As Denmark prepares for parliamentary elections, Moderate Party leader Birgitte Nyborg makes a shocking move with surprising results.

Rita (2020, Season 5 Available) – A Danish comedy in Danish with English subtitles. Netflix description: Independent, outspoken and adored by her students, schoolteacher Rita fares less well with adults in this comedy-drama from Denmark.

Young Wallander (New, Season 1) – A Netflix original series in English based on the Swedish and British series Wallander. Netflix description: An incendiary hate crime stirs civil unrest, fast-tracking rookie cop Kurt Wallander to detective in this origin story for the popular character.

For more Scandinavian films and TV shows:


I hope you found something of interest for the months ahead. Feel free to reach out to me if you have events to share.

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!

November 2019: Los Angeles Culture Challenge Including Scandinavian Films and Christmas Fairs

Cultures from all over the world are represented at special events happening in and around Los Angeles in November. And if Scandinavian films and Christmas fairs are of interest, this is the time for that as well.

For Scandinavian film enthusiasts, both the Arpa International Film Festival and AFI Fest offer opportunities:

  • The Dead Soldier, a Danish documentary directed by Jesper Ærø, will have its Los Angeles premier at the Arpa International Film Festival in Hollywood on November 9 (more details).
  • The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, a Norwegian/Canadian film featuring Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, Blackfoot from the Kainai First Nation and Sámi from northern Norway, as lead, co-director and writer in a story based on an actual incident from her life will be shown at AFI Fest in Hollywood on November 19 and 20 (more details).
  • And Then We Danced, a Swedish/French/Georgian film written and directed by Swedish Levan Akin, is Sweden’s official international feature film Oscar submission and will be shown at AFI Fest on November 20 and 21 (more details).
  • Something to Remember (Något att minnas), a Swedish short written and directed by Niki Lindroth von Bahr will be shown as part of Shorts Program 5 at AFI Fest on November 18 & 19 (more details).

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

* SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS FAIRS *

Friday, 11/22 – Sunday, 11/24: Julebasar – Norwegian Christmas Bazar, Norwegian Seamen’s Church, San Pedro. Christmas decorations, music, candles, and the smell of freshly baked goods set the mood as guests wander the booths filled with Scandinavian goods of all kinds. There are raffle drawings with wonderful prizes, traditional foods served in the church’s cafe, baked goods for sale in the church’s bakery, and Norwegian Christmas food available in the church’s store. There will also be a children’s Christmas workshop from 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Entry is free and all are welcome! (See hours.)

Sunday, 11/24: SWEA Orange County Swedish Christmas Fair, Old World Village, Huntington Beach. Come for Swedish handicrafts, traditional Swedish foods and home-baked goods, a gløgg bar, dancing around the Christmas tree, and Lucia pageants (at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.). There will also be a fish pond, jultomte, and much more! Entry fees are $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 5 to 15. (Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)

Saturday, 11/30: Julemarked – Scandinavian Christmas Fair, Danish Church & Cultural Center, Yorba Linda. Artisans and crafters offer high quality, unique and one-of-a-kind glass, ceramics, paper art, paintings, jewelry, and fabric art. Guests can also enjoy traditional Danish foods such as smørrebrød (elegant, elaborate open-face sandwiches) and æbleskiver (Danish pancake balls) with powdered sugar and raspberry jam as well as strong Danish coffee and gløgg, the hot Scandinavian yuletide drink (mulled red wine with cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, raisins and slivered almonds). Danish pastries and select meat products are also available for purchase. (Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.)

Sunday, 12/8: SWEA Los Angeles Swedish Christmas Fair, Torrance Cultural Center, Torrance. The SWEA Los Angeles Swedish Christmas Fair has something to offer everyone. A great selection of genuine Swedish handicrafts – jewelry, fine art, toys, and Christmas collectibles – will take care of all your holiday shopping. You can enjoy vibrant folk dancing (and try it out for yourself), and the radiant Lucia pageant and her choir performs twice during the day (12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m). When you get hungry, there are plenty of traditional holiday foods and baked goods to choose from, including our very own mulled, spiced glögg. Children have their own fun corner where they can say hello to Santa and create crafts to take home. As usual, there will be a raffle with a special grand prize.

* WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 9 & 10 *

W|ALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, on view until December 29, 2019. This exhibit examines the historical use and artistic treatment of walls over centuries. Across diverse civilizations, walls have been central to human history, from Hadrian’s Wall to the current debate over the U.S./Mexico border.

Asian World Film Festival, Culver City, Wednesday, 11/6 – Thursday, 11/14. The Asian World Film Festival brings the best of a broad selection of Asian World cinema to Los Angeles in order to draw greater recognition to the region’s wealth of filmmakers. The festival screens films from 50 countries across Asia spanning from Turkey to Japan and Russia to India.

22nd Annual Arpa International Film Festival, American Legion Theater Hollywood Post 43, Hollywood, Friday, 11/8 – Sunday, 11/10. Arpa International Film Festival (Arpa IFF) is dedicated to cultivating cultural understanding and global empathy by creating a dynamic forum for international cinema. Over the past 22 years, the festival has bridged cultural divides by fostering dialogue among people of diverse backgrounds. By showcasing local and international films that explore critical issues such as war, genocide, diaspora, dual identities, exile and multiculturalism, Arpa IFF has solidified its role in safeguarding films that continue to make a social impact.

Africa: Congo Masks – Shells and Raffia (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 11/10, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Musical Traditions (Free Second Sunday @PAM), USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 11/10, 11:00 a.m. Experience traditional Indian music with special guests from the Raga Essence Ensemble and learn to create your own musical instrument! In addition, enjoy family friendly Student Educator led tours and storytime for kids. Visit website for schedule of activities.

Animals of the Supernatural (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles, Sunday, 11/10, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays, a weekly family event that features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn about mythical animals such as dragons, enchanted house cats, and tengu (hint—they are part crow and excellent at martial arts!). Check out the exhibition Every Living Thing: Animals in Japanese Art and see the myriad ways animals are depicted in Japanese art. In artist-led workshops, make your own mythical and supernatural animal-inspired creations!

* WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 16 & 17 *

33rd Annual Israel Film Festival, Various Venues (Beverly Hills and Encino), Tuesday, 11/12 – Tuesday, 11/26. The mission of the Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles is to spotlight Israel’s thriving film and television industry, enrich the American vision of Israeli life and culture, and provide an intercultural exchange through the powerful medium of film.

AFI Fest, Various Venues, Hollywood, Thursday, 11/14 – Thursday, 11/21. This is American Film Institute’s annual celebration of international cinema from modern masters and emerging filmmakers. It features nightly red-carpet galas, special screenings, conversations, and tributes.

Philippines: Sarimanok Puppets (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 11/17, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Animals of the Supernatural (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles, Sunday, 11/17, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays, a weekly family event that features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn about mythical animals such as dragons, enchanted house cats, and tengu (hint—they are part crow and excellent at martial arts!). Check out the exhibition Every Living Thing: Animals in Japanese Art and see the myriad ways animals are depicted in Japanese art. In artist-led workshops, make your own mythical and supernatural animal-inspired creations!

* WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 23 & 24 *

The Great Los Angeles Walk, Meet at War Memorial Fountain at Arcadia County Park, Saturday, 11/23, 9:00 a.m. Get to know the city by walking across it. Every year, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, hundreds of walkers start the free urban hike on one side of the city and hours later, end up at the other. It is a low-key event, and you can hop on or off the walk whenever you’d like. This year the event starts in Arcadia and then passes through Pasadena on Colorado Blvd. and heads down Figueroa St. through Highland Park on the way to downtown Los Angeles and City Hall.

USA: Native American Sand Painting – Navajo Rug Motifs (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 11/24, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Animals of the Supernatural (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles, Sunday, 11/24, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays, a weekly family event that features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn about mythical animals such as dragons, enchanted house cats, and tengu (hint—they are part crow and excellent at martial arts!). Check out the exhibition Every Living Thing: Animals in Japanese Art and see the myriad ways animals are depicted in Japanese art. In artist-led workshops, make your own mythical and supernatural animal-inspired creations!

* WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 30 & DECEMBER 1 *

Amazon Basin : Kayupo Feathered Headdresses (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/1, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Do you know of other events happening this month that might be of interest to this community? Feel free to add them in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have tips on future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me with 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.

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?

October 2018 Los Angeles Culture Challenge & Scandinavian Events

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States. Here are some special events happening in LA this month. Mark your calendars, but please check suitability for family members and confirm dates and times before heading out.

For Scandinavian enthusiasts, October continues to offer events that may be of interest. On Sunday, October 7, the Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation will host its annual Leif Erikson Day Celebration. Judith Vinje, a world traveled journalist and expert in Viking history, will be the keynote speaker at a presentation which will be followed by a reception at the Scandinavian Center. Leif Erikson will be at the Center for pictures and conversation, so be sure to bring the kids! The event is free of charge.

The following weekend, on Sunday, October 14, Vasa Park Association will host their annual Scandinavian AutumnFest & Höstmarknad Celebration in Agoura Hills which includes a Swedish meatball contest. More details can be found in the listing below.

On Thursday, October 25, the Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation‘s Scandinavian Book Club resumes its monthly meetings after a long summer break. Please reach out if you’re interested in details.

And finally, news for Scandinavian enthusiasts and film buffs beyond Los Angeles, Netflix is releasing the movie 22 July, a drama about the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway that claimed the lives of 77 people and the aftermath, on October 10 both on its streaming platform and in select theaters around the world. The film is based on the book One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by Åsne Seierstad, translated from the Norwegian by Sarah Death. The movie is written and directed by Paul Greengrass.

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

* WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 6 & 7 *

Los Angeles Korean Festival, Seoul International Park, Normandie & Olympic Blvds, Thursday, 10/4 – Sunday, 10/7. This is a free four-day festival whose mission is to provide the community with the best possible outlet to learn about the roots and traditions of Korea. Entertaining performances will lighten up the festival’s main stage. Thoughtful cultural exhibitions will educate visitors about South Korea’s history and culture. Local restaurants as well as vendors from South Korea will present a wide variety of food in one space. The shopping space will consist of booths selling Korean products such as cosmetics, appliances, apparel, and accessories.

7th Annual San Pedro International Film Festival, various locations in San Pedro, Friday, 10/5 – Sunday, 10/7. The San Pedro International Film Festival (SPIFF) was founded to celebrate the diverse culture and community of San Pedro with a wide spectrum of independent film, documentaries, and shorts. SPIFF is committed to exhibiting films that embody inspiring entertainment for all, works that express fresh voices and differing global perspectives, with the intent that these films enlighten audiences while providing invaluable exposure for filmmakers, local and international.

L.A. Greek Fest, Saint Sophia Cathedral, Pico & Normandie Blvds, Friday, 10/5 – Sunday, 10/7. The L.A. Greek Fest is the largest and most iconic Greek food and wine festival in Los Angeles, California, bringing over 15,000 attendees together for a three-day weekend of all things Greek. Each day of festivities is a celebration of food, wine, dance, games, performances, and one-of-a-kind cultural experiences. Located at Pico and Normandie on the same grounds of one of LA’s most beautiful and well-known Greek Orthodox cathedrals, Saint Sophia Cathedral, the festival brings together the community of the Byzantine-Latino Quarter and people from all over downtown Los Angeles and Southern California. Visit website for schedule of events and $2 coupon.

Around the World in a Day Multicultural Festival, Oxnard, Saturday, 10/6, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Visit Oxnard for a day of music, dance, and cultural booths from around the world. The festival features live music and performers, food and vendor booths, exhibitors, demonstrations, arts & crafts, and plenty of family friendly activities. Every year, hundreds of guests look forward to coming together to celebrate the many diverse nations, languages, and cultures of the world.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 10/6, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. 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 L.A.’s Chinatown. (Offered every first Saturday of the month)

Sunday Funday: A Haunted Pedal, Meet at The Crafty Pedal, Downtown LA, Sunday, 10/7, 9:30 a.m. Explore Downtown LA in a unique way. The first stop on this haunted ride is the “Murder House” from season one the FX television series, American Horror Story. Then, the group will take a short ride over to Rosedale Cemetery, built in 1884, the first cemetery in Los Angeles open to all races and creeds. Many founding Angelenos rest in these beautiful garden grounds. Next, the ride goes toward the haunted and infamous Cecil Hotel in Downtown LA, past home of the Night Stalker, and the site of other mysterious happenings. Finally, the group rides to Pershing Square, where you’ll hear stories of the historical haunts of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. Ride finishes back at The Crafty Pedal. Visit website for important details on the ride.

Korea: Theater Masks (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/7, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

COAST, Downtown Santa Monica, Sunday, 10/7, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. COAST, the city of Santa Monica’s third annual open streets event, brings the City’s commitment to art, sustainability and mobility to life by filling two miles of streets with large-scale art installations, interactive activities, music and dance performances, roaming musicians and more! All are welcome to explore Downtown Santa Monica by foot or any number of wheeled devices.

10th Annual Kokoro Craft Boutique, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Sunday, 10/7, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Vendors will be on hand with unique jewelry, kimono fabric fashions, cultural t-shirts, handbags, ceramics, origami, bronze and glass art, Giant Robot products, and more. Enjoy a Taiko performance by Yuujou Daiko at 1:00 p.m. Admission to the boutique is free. A $20 purchase gets you free museum admission (10/7/18 only) and a 10% discount at local participating Little Tokyo eateries during the month of October (some restrictions apply).

Italian Renaissance Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 10/7, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Immerse yourself in a real Italian Renaissance Faire complete with special sword demonstrations, interactive gallery experiences, face painting, and musical performances. Experience the thrill of knights in armor demonstrating historical dueling techniques and walking throughout the galleries, Western Martial Arts interpreters, and fashion experts dressed in Renaissance garb appropriate to the region. Using an array of period instruments, live music will be provided by Courtly Noyse.

Leif Erikson Day Celebration, Scandinavian Center at Cal Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, Sunday, 10/7, 2:00 p.m. Judith Vinje, a world traveled journalist and expert in Viking history, will be the featured speaker at the Leif Erikson Day presentation. The presentation will be followed by a reception at the Scandinavian Center. This will be a fun opportunity to see the Scandinavian museum, library, resource center, and programs offered to members. Leif Erikson will be at the Center for pictures and conversation, so be sure to bring the kids! The event is free of charge.

* WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 13 & 14 *

Scandinavian AutumnFest & Höstmarknad Celebration, Vasa Park, Agoura Hills, Sunday, 10/14, 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. AutumnFest offers a wide range of activities for the whole family. In addition to enjoying traditional foods of Sweden, you can be a judge in the 10th Annual Swedish Meatball Contest. You can buy beautifully crafted gifts and souvenirs and enjoy Scandinavian musicians and folk dancers, demonstrations, and a Viking reenactment group that shares stories about Viking times. There will be many activities for kids including a waterslide, an alpine tube slide, swimming, a rock climbing wall, and field games.

Peru: Incan Sun God with Foil and Beads (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/14, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Weaving & Film, USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 11:00 a.m. Watch Artist Yan Zhang demonstrate the unique Li Brocade weaving style and then try decorative weaving yourself! At 3:00 p.m., join filmmaker Xiaowen Zhu and documentary subject Kenneth Wong for a screening of Oriental Silk, Zhu’s short film on the history of the first silk importing company in Los Angeles. Explore themes of cultural value and traditional craftsmanship, estrangement and homesickness, and the colors of memory.

* WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 20 & 21 *

Ancient Egypt: Tomb Paintings (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/21, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Fowler Families: Celebrating Día de los Muertos, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 10/21, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Prepare for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) at the Fowler Museum. Celebrate the Mexican cultural tradition of honoring departed loved ones through music, dance, regalia, and storytelling by the LA-based group Xipe Totec Danzantes Aztecas. Originating in Mexico City, this ensemble has developed with the blessings and recognition of traditional elders in Mexico. Xipe Totec Danzantes Aztecas will present “Journey to Mictlan,” a dance piece conveying the Aztec view of death as a transition in life’s journey. Begin the afternoon by creating your very own tissue paper marigolds or contributing to a collaborative papel picado banner that will be displayed in the Davis Courtyard. Xipe Totec Danzantes Aztecas will begin their performance at 2:00 p.m. with a blessing in the exhibition Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives before progressing into the Fowler Amphitheater.

* WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 27 & 28 *

Asian World Film Festival, Culver City, Wednesday, 10/24 – Thursday, 11/1. The Asian World Film Festival brings the best of a broad selection of Asian World cinema to Los Angeles in order to draw greater recognition to the region’s wealth of filmmakers. The festival screens films from 50 countries across Asia spanning from Turkey to Japan and Russia to India. This year’s theme will focus on female empowerment.

Día de los Muertos Festival, El Pueblo Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Thursday, 10/25 – Friday, 11/2. Olvera Street is home to a colorful celebration that takes place over nine days. Merging ancient traditions with modern-day interpretations, you are invited to join in honoring deceased loved ones. Each evening, colorful and vibrant novenario processions take place at 7:00 p.m. The traditional, pre-Columbian procession evokes special memories of deceased loved ones with colorful pageantry and indigenous blessings. Pan de muerto (sweet bread) and champurrado (a Mexican hot beverage) are provided after processions. During the festival days on the weekend, there is entertainment and face painting throughout the day. Community altars, or “Las Ofrendas,” are on display in the plaza.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 10/27, 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. Weather permitting. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission included. Limited to 20 participants. (Offered every last Saturday of the month.)

Día de Los Muertos 2018: Coatlicue “Mother of Gods”, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, Saturday, 10/27, 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Spend an eventful day watching as the cemetery comes to life with joyful celebrations. Highlights include a vibrant traditional procession with traditional Aztec blessings and regional musical dance group dedications, 100+ altars created by members of the community to their ancestors and loved ones, four stages featuring music and theatrical performances, an art exhibition in the Cathedral Mausoleum, and a wide variety of Day of the Dead arts and crafts available for purchase. See website for complete schedule and ticket information.

JAM Session: Mexican Folk Dance, Burton Chace Park, Marina del Rey, Saturday, 10/27, 3:00 p.m. (Part of Marina Spooktacular) Delight in the vibrant music and dance of Veracruz! Step up on the tarima (wooden dance platform) with Ballet Folklorico Ollin who will walk you through this rhythmic dance style. The JAM will end with a fandango celebrating the entire community. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. JAM Sessions are participatory while also centered on movement and music. All JAMs are free. All ages and skill levels are welcome.

Kenya: Animal Masks with Fur (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/28, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided

JAM Session: Aztec Dance, Burton Chace Park, Marina del Rey, Sunday, 10/28, 12:00 p.m. (Part of Marina Spooktacular) Experience the splendor of the Aztec people with Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc. Create rhythms and beats with fellow drummers and explore the music, choreography and poetry of this ancient Mesoamerican culture. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. JAM Sessions are participatory while also centered on movement and music. All JAMs are free. All ages and skill levels are welcome.

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have tips on future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me here with details. Thank you!

September 2018 Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Much to offer for Scandinavian enthusiasts!

Just because the lazy days of summer are over doesn’t mean you can’t seize the opportunity to do something new! September offers many opportunities to enjoy some special multicultural events or explore new-to-you areas. And Scandinavian enthusiasts in particular are in for a treat.

One particular favorite LA event, CicLAvia, returns at the end of this month on Sunday, September 30. But this is not a regular CicLAvia event; it’s a special eight-mile street party to celebrate the LA Phil’s centennial season. The route goes between Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA and the Hollywood Bowl, and it will showcase LA’s creative spirit with 1800 musicians, artists, and dancers coming together to perform at the six hubs and along the route. It even includes a free concert at the Hollywood Bowl in the evening (concert details and ticket information here). Celebrate LA!: LA Phil 100 x CicLAvia looks to be an event not to be missed.

For Scandinavian enthusiasts, September has much to offer!

Not only are there two special Scandinavian festivals going on this month, but also Norwegian film, music, and an author are making their way to Los Angeles.

        

Neither of the two festivals are in the local Los Angeles area, but both could make for interesting excursions out of town. During the weekend of September 14 to 16, Solvang in Santa Barbara County celebrates its Danish heritage with the 82nd annual Solvang Danish Days festival. The following weekend, September 22 and 23, you can experience all things Viking and Scandinavian at the Vista Viking Festival in San Diego County.

      

Norwegian thriller “Revenge” by writer-director Kjersti Steinsbø opens August 31 and runs through September 6 at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills. Using a false identity, Rebekka sets out to confront the man with whom she shares a dark secret about the death of her sister. She must face the consequences of her actions and decide how far she will to go to seek revenge. It is in Norwegian with English subtitles. The LA Times says, “Come for the chills, stay for the view…

Wardruna, a Norwegian music group, is coming to The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Downtown LA on Friday, September 14. Their music has been featured in the History Channel series “Vikings.” Although Wardruna’s music shares characteristics with music typically labeled as folk, world, and/or ambient, none of these genres really describes their unique style. It truly must be experienced. And now’s your chance! Buy tickets here OR enter my giveaway for a pair of tickets!

Finally, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård will be in town to discuss My Struggle: Book 6the long awaited final book in the My Struggle series. He will make two appearances. The first one is Saturday, September 22, at Skylight Books in Los Feliz. The second one on Sunday, September 23, at Aratani Theatre of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Downtown LA.

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

August 2018 Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Don’t Miss an #OwnVoices Immigrant Film from Norway

Have you had a chance to try something new or explore a new-to-you area of Los Angeles this summer? Summertime offers some special multicultural events for Angelenos. There’s still time to take advantage!

Some exciting Norwegian film news! What Will People Say by Norwegian-Pakistani filmmaker Iram Haq opens today in Los Angeles. I saw this movie at AFI Fest this past fall and loved it. It’s a very powerful film about a first generation Norwegian teenager born of Pakistani immigrants in Oslo. The movie is about family, culture clash, honor, and shame. There were many gasp-out-loud moments in this film. It’s a thought-provoking and heart-breaking movie. I highly recommend it. It opened my eyes to a world very foreign to me, a world that could theoretically be right next to me without me knowing it. Read my full review here. It is playing at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills and Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. Visit Laemmle’s website to see showtimes. Don’t miss it!

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

Little Norway is making a name for itself in the big world!

I love hearing news of Norway’s influence, or Scandinavia’s in general, out in the big world, especially in the U.S. and when it gets close to home here in Los Angeles. The winter Olympics is always a fun time to be Norwegian. Lately, though, Norway is making a name for itself in other areas as well. Whether it’s film, podcasts, books, music, or sports (besides skiing), there’s something for every Scandinavian enthusiast right now. Here’s a round-up of various Norwegian “sightings” outside of Norway and Scandinavia. How many are you already familiar with?

Film

Right now Angelenos can see The 12th Man, a film about Norwegian history by Norwegian director Harald Zwart. It has a limited engagement at Arena Cinelounge in Hollywood (released in the U.S. on May 4). It is a World War II-set thriller based on the true story of Jan Baalsrud, a Norwegian resistance fighter who was the only one of his 12-member group to escape the Nazis when their sabotage mission failed. The movie follows him as he tries to make his way to neutral Sweden through the Arctic landscape. The Los Angeles Times writes, “World War II-set Norwegian thriller ‘The 12th Man’ has the right stuff.” Catch it before it moves on… There’s even a book, Defiant Courage: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance by Astrid Karlsen Scott and Dr. Tore Haug, for those who are particularly curious about Jan Baalsrud’s experience.

Another movie to feature Norway is soon-to-be-released Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Norway’s iconic mountain plateau Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) in Western Norway is where Tom Cruise does a spectacular stunt. The movie opens in the U.S. on July 27. View the official trailer with a glimpse of the scene at Preikestolen. A hike to the top of Preikestolen is actually on my Norway bucket list so I’ll be eager to see this movie.

Netflix Series

The Rain isn’t a Norwegian creation but rather a Danish one. It’s a brand new original 8-episode Netflix series that was released May 4. It’s about two siblings who, six years after a brutal virus wipes out most of Scandinavia’s population, join a band of young survivors seeking safety and answers.

And just in case you aren’t aware, there’s a relatively new Norwegian series currently available on Netflix as well. Borderliner, released March 6, is about a police detective who covers up a murder case to protect his family, but then his partner suspects foul play. Newsweek writes, “New Netflix series ‘Borderliner’ is the perfect Scandinavian noir gateway drug.

Podcast

Also going on right now is the new podcast Death in Ice Valley. It explores the still unsolved mystery surrounding a female body found in Norway’s Isdalen (Ice Valley), near Bergen in Western Norway, in 1970. Producers hope to solve the mystery with the help of modern technology that wasn’t available back then and with input from listeners from around the world. There’s even a Facebook group where members can view and further discuss the evidence provided in each episode. The first episode was released April 15, and a new episode drops every Monday.

If true crime, cold cases, mystery, and intrigue are your thing, especially with a foreign touch, then this podcast may be of interest. I’m currently listening to it as the episodes drop and am curious to see how/if this case is resolved.

Authors & Books

Norwegian authors are also making a name for themselves outside of Norway.

Music

It’s been a busy time for Norwegian musicians abroad as well! Kygo, SigridAurora, and Alan Walker all played at Coachella Music Festival in April in Indio, California. Coachella was apparently one of the biggest crowds Kygo has ever played for. Kygo is now wrapping up his “Kids in Love Tour” in Canada and Northeastern U.S. After Coachella, Sigrid was a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (watch appearance here). Kygo will be performing on The Tonight Show on May 14, and Aurora will be performing on Late Night with Seth Meyers on May 23.

Sports

Los Angeles’ Major League Soccer club LA Galaxy signed two Norwegian players for the 2018-19 season, Jørgen Skjelvik and Ola Kamara. The LA Galaxy also has Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so Scandinavia is well represented.

And in case you’re not already aware, in honor of Norway’s Constitution Day (May 17) and the signing of its two Norwegian players, LA Galaxy will be hosting a special Norwegian Heritage Night at Stubhub Center in Carson on Friday, May 25. For more information on this event and how to buy tickets, please visit Los Angeles Culture Challenge: May 2018 (17th of May Celebrations & LA Galaxy Norwegian Heritage Night!).

Norway is also making a name for itself in boxing, female boxing to be precise, with Cecilia Brækhus (5 fast facts you need to know). Earlier this month in Carson, California, Brækhus not only continued her whole career win streak and defeated her opponent keeping her titles, but Brækhus’ match was also the first female boxing match to be aired on HBO in the cable network’s 45-year history of boxing coverage.

I hope you enjoyed this eclectic round-up of recent Norwegian sightings in the bigger world. If I missed anything, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.