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Jonas Holmberg • Artistic director, Göteborg International Film Festival

“The curiosity, intelligence and open minds of our audience never cease to surprise me”


- Cineuropa spoke to Jonas Holmberg, Göteborg International Film Festival artistic director, how he stepped up to his new role and the way in which the gathering selects its line-up

Jonas Holmberg  • Artistic director, Göteborg International Film Festival
© Maja Kristin Nylander

Last April, Swedish film critic Jonas Holmberg took over from Marit Kapla as artistic director of the Göteborg International Film Festival. Holmberg has been working for the festival since 2012, starting off as Kapla’s deputy and international programme director. He spoke to Cineuropa about programming the 500 films in this year's line-up.

Cineuropa: How did you handle the new challenge, and are there any new things you are introducing to the festival?
Jonas Holmberg: My main focus has been to strengthen the Nordic profile of the festival. Our mission is to bring the best of world cinema to the Nordic region, and bring the best of Nordic cinema to the world. The key here is our main competition, the Dragon Award Best Nordic Film, in which eight Nordic films compete and the winner receives SEK 1,000,000 (€107,000), which makes it the biggest film award in the world.

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I am very proud of this year’s line-up, which includes world premieres of many really strong films with an international potential, such as Key House Mirror [+see also:
film review
interview: Michael Noer
film profile
by Michael Noer, My Skinny Sister by Sanna Lenken and In Your Arms by Samanou Acheche Sahlstrøm.

How does the festival work in terms of selecting films and classifying them into categories? 500 films is a huge number, and it must take a lot of careful work.
It is very delicate and important work, and to complete this task, we have a large and very competent programming team, including film scholars, producers and full-time programmers. An important objective for us is to present a broad line-up with films from many parts of the world. This year we’re presenting films from 89 countries, which is something I don’t think many festivals can match. 

As the biggest film festival in Northern Europe, Göteborg presents numerous world premieres of Nordic movies. Where does the gathering stand in terms of premiere requirements, including the films from the rest of the world?
It is important for us to have world premieres of strong Nordic films in our competitions, but also to present a panorama of the best of the year’s Nordic cinema. We have many world premieres of Nordic films this year, and choosing these movies is the one thing I put the most energy into. I am very proud of this year’s selection!

Apart from the Nordic world premieres in our competitions, we present world premieres of high-profile Nordic titles such as Armi Alive!, directed by Academy Award winner Jörn Donner

As for non-Nordic films, premiere status is not as important. We prefer a high-quality line-up, but nonetheless, we present a few international world premieres, such as the Equatorial Guinean film Feguibox by Gabriel Amdur and Rubén Monsuy, and the Zimbabwean film Child of the Revolution by Xoliswa Sithole.

How does the festival balance the need to remain relevant and progressive in an artistic sense with the audience’s requirements?
The one thing I love most about the Göteborg International Film Festival is the audience! The curiosity, intelligence and open minds of the viewers never cease to surprise me. To meet the demands of new audiences, we have created our own VoD service, Draken Film, on which audiences with new consumption patterns can see films previously screened at the festival all year round.

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