«We noticed quite early on that this year’s films would be a challenge to thematise»

    NORDISK PANORAMA: Documentary programmers Cecilia Lidin and Hawa Sanneh on the festival's 32nd edition.

    The 32nd Nordisk Panorama kicks off on 16 September and moves through 21 September in Malmö, Sweden.

    A full-fledged film festival, industry event, and meeting point for filmmakers, distributors, financiers, and audiences alike, Nordisk Panorama has existed since 1990, growing into a full-scale meeting place for the professional Nordic short film and documentary community.

    Modern Times Review spoke with Nordisk Panorama documentary programmers Cecilia Lidin and Hawa Sanneh on the challenges, trends, and current Nordisk Panorama experience.

    «This year we believe that people dared to explore more, both in their history but also their surroundings.»

    This year’s festival has a strong focus on climate action and sustainability, particularly across the documentary offerings. Can you explain why did you decide for this topic to be a focal point for the 2021 festival?
    The climate issue is definitely one of the major topics that we point out in this year’s range. It is an issue that is constantly topical and is gaining more and more space in the public sphere. This year, we have actively worked to create a space for that topic but it was important that we allow other topics to coexist as well. Other topics seen in this year’s festival are friendship, womanhood, identity, and migration. So I would say that this year’s focus isn’t around a specific topic, it’s broader than that.

    Aside from climate, what sorts of themes did you notice across submissions this year? How did these themes translate into the final programming?
    We noticed quite early on that this year’s films would be a challenge to thematise. This year we believe that people dared to explore more, both in their history but also their surroundings. We think the pandemic helped people to dig where they stand in different creative ways.

    As I understand, you are also involved with the indie game focus and seminars for this year’s festival. Can you explain a little about the form this will take? How do you define the games presented as falling within the genre of «documentary» as they are fictive worlds made around real-life issues? Many see video games as being a very commercial (and lucrative) industry, where do such games present fall within this conversation? What is the target audience/market for them?
    The idea of focusing on games at a seminar during Nordisk Panorama comes from a place of curiosity and inspiration. Because many games developed in the Nordic region – often made with public art support, are very far away from what we maybe think of as games developed by commercial interests. The games we will introduce represent an artistic development in visual storytelling, which we are convinced will be interesting for all storytellers – both within fiction and documentary filmmaking They deal with important issues in creative ways, and we hope the film community will find it as inspiring as we do!

    Do you have a seminal documentary film, filmmaker, and/or filmography that has been integral in your interest in the genre?
    I think all films in one way or another represent the documentary format in its purest form. There is this timeliness, playfulness, artistic height, and honesty that together creates a Nordic showcase of our present.

    Nordic Panorama is about presenting a range of what is happening in the Nordic countries at this moment.

    Finally, can each of you discuss your approach to programming? What sort of «criteria» do you look for?
    Nordic Panorama is about presenting a range of what is happening in the Nordic countries at this moment. We want to create a range in content, topics, formats but also take a look at who the creators are. What is their age/gender/ethnicity? In this sense, we both had the same approach to the selection process – and the strength of being two is of course the discussion we have had that has forced us to think deeply and nuanced about the choices we ended up making.

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    Steve Rickinson
    Communications Manager at Modern Times Review.
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