From big events that attract global stars to more specialized festivals focusing on one area, Sweden is home to some of the world’s most unmissable film festivals. The number of festivals has grown in recent years to include festivals that focus on children, short films, immigrant groups, and much more. Here are the ones you should know about.
Stockholm International Film Festival
Launched in 1990 with an aim to broaden the film offerings in Sweden, the Stockholm International Film Festival is one of the biggest film festivals in the country, and while the splashy annual festival that attracts filmmakers and film lovers from around the world is held for two weeks in November, the festival also promotes film year-round, with screenings around the city. More than 3,000 films have been shown during the festival, which has welcomed such luminaries as Dennis Hopper, Ang Lee, Terry Gilliam, and Elia Kazan.
For several years Cinema Indien has been bringing a wide range of Indian films to Stockholm movie lovers, so while Bollywood is in the mix there’s plenty more on offer, from blockbusters to regional films. The program includes films that span genres, languages, and themes, and also focus on including more thorny topics, such as gender and diversity.
Gothenburg International Film Festival
The Gothenburg International Film Festival is the biggest in the Nordics. In 2016 it attracted around 130,000 visitors, screened 450 films from 84 countries, and held, among other events, 40 seminars. The main purpose of the festival is to serve as a platform for sending Nordic films out into the world, as well as bringing all types of films to the Nordic region that might not make it here otherwise. Always a highlight of the festival season, this festival turns Gothenburg into a film buff’s nirvana each year.
Uppsala International Short Film Festival
Since 1982, the Uppsala International Short Film Festival has been Sweden’s premiere showcase for short films, with more than 300 films in five different categories being screened annually. It’s also the biggest cultural event in the university town, attracting visitors from not just around the country, but from around the world. It’s also recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, so winning films, whether they are domestic or international, become eligible for an Oscar nomination.
Malmö Arab Film Festival
With Sweden’s growing Middle Eastern population, the Malmö Arab Film Festival is the right festival at the right time. With roughly 120 films screened each year the festival, it is the largest Arab film festival outside the Arab world, and serves as a platform for intercultural diversity and tolerance. It also acts as a platform for collaboration between the Arab and Nordic film industries, and there are numerous seminars and workshops.
International Female Film Festival Malmö
Since 2006, the International Female Film Festival Malmö has been screening films by female directors, including features, documentaries, and shorts. Arranged by the non-profit Imagines del Sur, the festival is focused on giving voice to women from both Sweden and around the world through making their work available to the public as well as creating a platform for gender debate. This is where you can see films not green lighted by the male-dominated industry.
BUFF International Film Festival
BUFF describes itself as “World Class Young Cinema” and that it is, because with the focus on kids it gives children and young people across the Nordics an opportunity to experience films made for them—and sometimes by them. It helps kids see the world from a broader perspective by showing films from around the world.
Sverige Kort Film Festival
While the Swedish Short Film Festival has been going for 60 years not much has changed—which is a good thing. Held at Bio Rio in the Hornstull section of trendy Södermalm, the festival pays tribute to Swedish short film, particularly on non-commercial short films. This means that the different categories include films made by film students, super shorts of one minute, and shorts with pretty much zero budget. This really is a truly alternative film festival, where emerging talents get a chance to show off their budding skills.
Lund International Fantastic Film Festival
Fantastic cinema is often the term used for science fiction, fantasy, and horror but Lund Fantastic Film Festival is so much more. Instead of focusing on a narrow scope, the festival likes to say it is all about imagination—stretching the limits and reinforcing its value. What this means is that since 1995 the festival has premiered some 600 films and while the focus is on Europe, more than 30 countries from around the globe have been represented.
Tempo Documentary Film Festival
It’s the biggest documentary festival in Sweden and Tempo continues as it began back in 1998—presenting creative documentaries from around the globe that would otherwise not reach a Swedish audience. The Tempo definition of documentary is broad, with not just film but also radio, photography, and transmedia falling under its umbrella. There are also a large number of events held in relation to the festival, such as debates, seminars, and workshops. For documentary lovers, there is no better festival.
Celebrating its 20 year anniversary in 2018, CinemAfrica is all about spreading high quality African and diaspora cinema across Sweden, which means the festival screens everything from features to shorts while also working towards increasing the number of African films shown in cinemas and on T.V. It’s the largest African cinema festival in the Nordic region.
Panoramica is Stockholm’s first Latin American Film Festival, and its aim—like many other specialized festivals in Sweden—is to spread the word about Latin American film, as well as be a force in expanding the diversity of cinematic offerings in the country. The festival also serves as a platform for a cross-cultural and artistic exchange between Sweden and Latin America, particularly when it comes to film.