Sweden's Way Out West Film Festival Breaks Audience Record

Sweden’s Way Out West Film Festival Breaks Audience Record

As seen in Screen Daily

Ruben Östlund presents Cannes hit Force Majeure as a gala screening; Jens Lien previews TV series Viva Hate.

Gothenburg’s Way Out West wrapped its fourth film edition on Saturday with a record-breaking 27,000 in attendance and 42 films in its programming, which included a gala premiere of local Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure and Nordic premieres of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Alex Gibney’s Finding Fela.

Running alongside the Way Out West music festival, now in its ninth year, additional film programming catered to the music fanbase by screening world premieres of Swedish actress Alexandra Dahlström’s All We Have is Now, documenting Stockholm-based rock band Vulkano; and Liza Minou Morberg’s Alone Together that follows three women on a journey to Way Out West.

Other music-oriented films included Eric Green’s guitar documentary Beautiful Noise; Nick Cave doc 20,000 Days on Earth; Tom Berninger’s Mistaken for Strangers that centres around his brother in The National and 1966-’67 Jimi Hendrix feature Jimi: All Is By My Side starring OutKast’s André Benjamin.

“We are Europe’s largest music and film-combined festival which creates a unique set-up both for the film industry and attendees,” said Way Out West head of film programming Svante Tidholm.

“We had a gala screening [of Force Majeure] at Gothenburg’s largest cinema Draken, successfully selling out its 700-seat capacity. And the 18 Nordic premieres brought musical talents such as The National’s Matt Berninger and OutKast’s André Benjamin, something that is a backbone to this festival’s audience.”

Viva Hate test screening

Also new to the festival, Norwegian filmmaker Jens Lien debuted the first of his three-part TV series Viva Hate in an unprecedented off-line (work in progress) format. Written by former Swedish rocker Peter Birro, the two used the screening as a test.

“This is not something we’d typically do, but this festival acts as the perfect backdrop to finding out if our series, that centres around life and love amidst Gothenburg’s 1990s music scene, works. And by judging from the sold-out, enthusiastic audience, it did,” said Lien.

Sustainability

Known for its strong sustainability measures, the festival adheres to recycling standards, a ticketless map and payment system and serves vegetarian-only food. While this doesn’t influence the festival line-up, Tidholm has worked closely with NGO Swedish Nature Foundation in creating a series of climate change videos that are shown before each film.

Tidholm was also proud to reveal that almost half of this year’s programming comes from women. “We work in conjunction with Sweden’s film industry guidelines, and one of the priorities is balancing equality and gender issues,” he said.

“This year, 45% of the films stem from female directors, something we are very proud of.”

Talent

Additional talent that attended included Östlund and his cast members Lisa Loven Kongsli and Johannes Kuhnke, Alone Together’s Liza Minou Morberg, All We Have Is Now’s Alexandra Dahlström, Concerning Violence’s director Göran Olsson and participants Silvana Imam and Adam Tensta, 7 Stripes’s Klas Sivertson and Tom Ljungman who stars in Viva Hate.

Those attending without films in the programme included Alexander Skarsgård, Fares Fares, Joel Kinnaman, Alicia Vikander and Molly Hartleb.

The musical line-up boasted high-profile headline acts such as Röyksopp & Robyn, Outkast, Queens of the Stone Age, The National, Mos Def, Little Dragon, Neneh Cherry, Blood Orange and Motörhead.

Growing festival

Thomas Eskilsson, CEO of Film i Väst, whose regional film fund has significantly furthered film production on the West Coast of Sweden, added: “The festival is coming into its own. It appeals to a younger audience which is a departure from many other more traditional film festivals.

“And on the business side, it offers an organic space for industry members to meet. Some of the best deals are made in an informal setting.”

With a total of eight world premieres, 18 Nordic premieres and six characterful cinema venues, the festival is increasingly growing each year.

“We want this festival to be like finding the rainbow. We want to break boundaries – more panels, more site-specific theatre and with the success of Force Majeure, we will push for more gala premieres in the Draken cinema,” said Tidholm.

The festival programmer likened those attending to “the kind of audience that may stay out partying until 3am but is up by 10am to see films.”

“And if you think about it – all directors want to be rock stars and all rock stars want to be actors. It’s the ideal meeting place for talent that want to cross over,” he added.