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Swedish Productions in Cannes 2024

Swedish productions in Cannes

If one refers to majors, there are no Swedish productions at Cannes 2024. However, there is a presence of Swedish co-productions and even a director or two. In the competition, we find Ali Abbasi’s The Apprentice and Magnus von Horn’s The Girl with the Needle (Pigen med nålen). In 2016, Junfeng Boo made a quite interesting film called Apprentice. At the Nowe Horyzonty festival’s Q&A, the film was presented as “The Apprentice”. The director quickly addressed the error, adding that he didn’t want to get sued by Donald Trump. Apparently, Abbasi and the other people behind the new film have no such worries. It’s the director’s fourth feature, following Shelley (2016), Border (Gräns 2018) and Holy Spider (2022).

The Apprentice
Tilda Swinton Sebastian Stan as Donald Trump in The Apprentice.

The Apprentice stars Sebastian Stan as Donald Trump and is said to focus on Trump’s career as a real estate businessman in New York in the 1970s and 80s. More precisely, the relationship between Trump and Roy Cohn, a New York City prosecutor notable for working with Senator Joseph McCarthy in the fifties. Maria Bakalova (Bodies, Bodies, Bodies) plays Ivana Trump. The film is written by Gabriel Sherman, mostly known for his Roger Aisles biography, The Loudest Voice in the Room. However one felt about Gräns and Holy Spider it will be interesting to see what Abbasi makes of this story. Its inclusion in the competition might be connected to the election year. It’s the director’s third film in Cannes.

The Girl With the Needle is Magnus von Horn’s third feature. He released his debut film, The Here After (Efterskalv), in 2015. Set in a small town in Sweden, it tells the story of John, who returns home after a prison term but is anything but welcomed with open arms in his small town. Horn studied direction at the famous film school in Łódź. The Polish connection has been consistent throughout his career—the Here After was lensed by none other than Łukasz Żal. The follow-up Sweat was shot by Michał Dymek, who serves as the cinematographer for the new work as well. All the director’s features have appeared at Cannes.

Swedish productions  The Girl With The Needle
The Girl With the Needle

The new work is set in Copenhagen after WWl. The description states that it is about young pregnant Karoline (Vic Carmen Sonne from Holiday), who takes on a position as a wet nurse for an older woman named Dagmar (Trine Dyrholm) to help support herself. The latter operates a clandestine adoption agency under the guise of a candy shop, assisting disadvantaged mothers in placing their unwanted newborns in foster homes. Karoline grows close to Dagmar but is soon faced with the nightmarish reality she unwittingly entered. The film is in Danish, which marks the third language for the director, whose first films were in Swedish and Polish, respectively.

Swedish productions outside the competition

Staying in the official section, Armand by Halfdan Ullmann Tøndell will be screened in the Un Certain Regard strand. An incident occurs at an elementary school. The parents of young Armand and Jon are summoned by the management. Everyone struggles to explain what really happened. The children’s stories clash, their points of view as well, and the adults use whatever means they can to get their perspectives across. The ubiquitous Renate Reinsve from The Worst Film in the World (2021) stars in this film, directed by the grandson of Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann.

In the Quinzaine des Cinéastes side section, Sister Midnight by Karan Kandhari was selected. The UK production about an arranged marriage in Mumbai was co-produced by Film i Väst.

Sister Midnight
Sister Midnight.

Film I Väst is also involved in a film in Semaine de la Critique. Julie Keeps Quiet (Julie Zwigjt) is written and directed by Leonardo van Dijl and tells the story of a highly-ranked tennis player whose coach is suddenly suspended and investigated. When the players are encouraged to speak, Julie remains silent. This Belgian major production is the director’s feature debut.

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