One fantastic moviegoing experience I discovered this year was the Gothenburg Film Festival.
Held around the end of January every year, it showed around 450 films from all over the world in 2020. The films are played at cinemas all over central Gothenburg, including one inside the Chalmers Kårhus. Last January, you could see movies in all genres, and the full list of films was released both online and in a catalog before the festival started. Once I decided which movies I wanted to see, I ordered tickets on the festival website. One nice aspect of this is that there are student discounts available. Movies were screened for eleven days throughout the city, and every year around 160,000 people visit the festival. Aside from films, the festival also hosts events like lectures and director talks, where filmmakers are interviewed about their work.
I chose three movies to see at the festival. There were so many to pick from, it was not an easy choice to make! There were films from all genres, and last year there was a particular focus on feminist films and Brazilian ones. No matter what you prefer, from thrillers, comedies, or documentaries, there will probably be something you’d like.
The first film I watched was Uncut Gems. I had heard a lot of buzz about it, especially since it starred Adam Sandler in an atypical role in a crime thriller, and he received a lot of praise for his performance. This screening was on the Chalmers Johanneberg campus in the conference room RunAn. It was a nice experience, finishing up class and heading over to the theatre in the student union. I realized when I got there that I should have arrived earlier, since the room was quite full and I had to sit very close to the front. I settled in and experienced one of the more stressful films I’ve ever watched (If you’ve seen it, you know, and if you haven’t it’s on Netflix). Other recently released films are usually shown throughout the year for students in RunAn too.
The second film I saw was one I chose somewhat randomly. It was a German film called Relativity, which I found intriguing based on the description. It was told in a déjà vu kind of way, bouncing between the past and present around a tragic event. It was a very interesting story, exploring how people are connected. It was played at Biopalatset in the city center at Kungstorget. They had a large wall of fresh popcorn, so of course I had to get some before going into the theatre.
The last film I saw was the one I was most looking forward to. It was a film called A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It was a semi-biographical story of a period of time in American TV star, Fred Rogers’ life. Mister Rogers created a children’s show that ran for more than 30 years. It covered a huge range of topics for kids, like dealing with feelings and accepting people different from yourself. Tom Hanks played Fred Rogers, and the film features Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a city I’ve visited plenty of times. I really enjoyed
the film, seeing a city I know featured so well and the opportunity to look back at this beloved public figure from my childhood. This film was played at Draken, which is the main cinema for the Gothenburg Film Festival. The theatre is a huge room, with a viking ship decorating the curtain. I felt almost like I was going to the opera rather than a movie! It was close to the end of the festival when I went, and it was a great experience. I’ll never get bored of the experience of being in a theatre full of people, and though we are strangers, for a few hours we experience the same story, with all the reactions it brings.
In addition to the film festival in January, the Gothenburg Film Festival put on an event in August called Open Air Anywhere. This event released a film online for anyone to stream at a certain date and time. In this way, everyone could be together while being apart, watching the same film in small groups outside or inside on the same evening.
It’s been announced that the festival in 2021 will take place online. Covid-19 may change the movie going experience for a long time, but even in a digital platform, I highly recommend checking out the festival! With all the films offered, you are pretty much guaranteed to find something that will resonate with you.