Swedish sports drama Tigers, the story of teenage soccer star Martin Bengtsson, was named the Dragon Award winner for Best Nordic Film at the 2021 Göteborg Film Festival, Scandinavia’s top film event. The festival was held virtually this year because of the pandemic.
The Tigers film was based on Bengtsson’s autobiography, wherein he wrote of his experiences with top Italian football squad Inter Milan. The screenplay was by Ronnie Sandahl, best known for Janus Metz’s 2017 tennis biopic, Borg vs McEnroe.
The Dragon Award comes with a $478,000 (SEK 400,000) cash prize. Erik Enge, who plays Bengtsson in the film, was named Göteborg’s Best Actor honor.
“Many of the films of this year’s Nordic competition had characters wanting to be the best versions of themselves while struggling with the pressures of success,” said a statement from the Göteborg jury. “The winning film gives a rare glimpse into a world many wish to enter, but only a few will be admitted. We chose to award the film that made us feel and root for the main character in every situation, whether chasing their dream or giving it up in order to survive and become happy.”
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Göteborg’s Audience Dragon Award for Best Nordic Film went to Danish dramedy Another Round by Thomas Vinterberg. The feature, starring Mads Mikkelsen, recently picked up a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign-language film. It is also Denmark’s 2021 Oscars nominee in the best international feature category.
Jasmila Zbanic’s Bosnian genocide drama Quo Vadis, Aida? won the Dragon Award for Best International Film, which comes with a $60,000 (SEK 50,000) prize. The feature tells the story of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre through the eyes of a courageous UN interpreter. It is also an international feature nominee for the Academy Awards.
The Jonas Poher Rasmussen documentary Flee, which mixes animation and newsreel footage to tell the story of an Afghani refugee’s traumatic journey to Denmark, won Best Nordic Documentary. The prize has a $300,000 (SEK 250,000) in cash attached. Flee premiered opening night at the Sundance film festival, with Neon scoring North American rights to the film in a seven-figure deal.
Pleasure, a drama from director Nina Thyberg about a 20-year-old who leaves life in small-town Sweden for Los Angeles to become a porn star, won the international film critics honor, the Fipresci Award. The Fipresci jury called Pleasure “a raw, bold and daring documentary-like descent into the subterranean world of the L.A. porn industry, with a tour de force performance from newcomer Sofia Kappel.”
Göteborg’s Sven Nykvist Cinematography Award, named after the late, Oscar-winning cameraman of Fanny and Alexander and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, went to Linda Wassberg for Tove, another autobiographical drama. Director Zaida Bergroth follows the life of Finnish avant-garde artist Tove Jansson, the writer of the popular Moomin children’s’ books.
The Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award, named after the Swedish filmmaker, went to Mama by Li Dongmei, in which the director tells of growing up as a 12-year-old in a rural Chinese village during the 1990s. The prize consists of a stay at the Bergman Estate on the Baltic Sea island of Faro for Li and a visit to Ingmar Bergman’s personal archive in Stockholm.
The Dragon Award for Best Swedish Short, with a $60,000 (SEK 50,000) cash prize, went to The Expected by Carolina Sandvik. The Church of Sweden’s Angelos Award and its $60,000 (SEK 50,000) bursary, went to Magnus von Horn for Sweat, a Swedish-Polish co-production about a celebrity fitness influencer who has a moment of self-reckoning.
The Nordisk Film & TV Fond Screenplay Award for the best TV drama went to Maja Jul Larsen for Cry Wolf, a Danish series that screened in Göteborg’s TV Drama Vision sidebar.