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The 39th Göteborg Film Festival kicked off yesterday, and today begins its first-ever TV Drama program, which features seven titles, three of which have their world premieres.

Göteborg Film Festival logo

With the increasing number and popularity of compelling, cross-border-friendly international dramas, notably those from the Nordic countries, the Göteborg Film Festival is the third international film festival, after Berlin and Toronto, to include a program specifically for television programs.

Said Jonas Holmberg, the festival’s artistic director, “It feels like the completely right time for the Göteborg Film Festival to include TV drama in its program in a well thought-out and structured way. We’re happy that we’ve had such a strong response from the Nordic TV industry, which has made it possible for us to present a program of high international class. This is a program that says a lot about the Nordic countries today, about our history and our economic and ecological challenges.”

The inaugural TV Drama program at Göteborg Film Festival 2016, held in Gothenburg, Sweden, features seven new TV series, including the world premieres of three shows from Sweden and the Swedish premieres of titles from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway.

WORLD PREMIERES

30 Degrees in February: Season 2 (30 grader i februari) — Sweden

It’s been four years since 30 Degrees in February bowed in Sweden, and the highly-anticipated second season of this character-driven drama follows up the stories that viewers (like me) became engrossed in. Namely, the story of Glenn (Kjell Wilhelmsen, Blue Eyes), who went to Thailand in search of a wife and mother of his future offspring; of Kajsa (Maria Lundqvist, Everlasting Moments), who, following a debilitating stroke, moved with her two daughters to this Asian country to start a new life; and of Majlis (Lotta Tejle, The Sandhamn Murders), who sought escape from her dull, monotonous life in Sweden by venturing with her paralyzed husband to this exotic environment. New characters are introduced in Season 2, including therapist Anders, played by Björn Kjellman (Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter), in three parallel stories that occasionally intersect.

(The first series aired on Sky Arts in 2015, so the UK pay channel might pick up the second, as well. There’s been no word about a US programmer screening Season 1. Stay tuned for updates about both.)

30 Degrees in February
30 Degrees in February (30 grader i februari): Kjell Wilhelmsen as Glenn, Djuangjai Hirunsri as Oh – Photo courtesy of Göteborg Film Festival

The Most Forbidden (Det mest förbjudna) — Sweden

This miniseries is loosely based on the autobiographical novel of the same name (not translated into English) by the late Swedish author Kerstin Thorvall. When the now-classic confessional oeuvre was first published in 1976, a firestorm erupted over its frank nature about sexuality and family. Forty years later, director Tova Magnusson (Arne Dahl) brings the author’s life and work to the screen in a powerful three-part period drama, about one woman’s struggle with a male-dominated society as well as herself, that stars Cilla Thorell (The Reunion) as Kerstin Thorvall.

(There have been no announcements regarding a UK or US programmer picking up The Most Forbidden, so stay tuned for updates, if any.)

The Most Forbidden (Det mest förbjudna)
The Most Forbidden (Det mest förbjudna): Cilla Thorell as Kerstin Thorvall – Photo by Josef Persson, courtesy of Göteborg Film Festival

Spring Tide (Springfloden) — Sweden

Adapted from the bestselling novel of the same name by Rolf and Cilla Börjlind, writers for hit Swedish TV series Beck and Arne Dahl, Spring Tide is a mystery/crime thriller that centers on the unsolved case of a pregnant woman buried alive on a beach on North Koster Island, off the west coast of Sweden. Years later, while studying the case for a class, aspiring police officer Oliva Rönning (Julia Ragnarsson, The Bridge) discovers a personal connection to the crime and begins to investigate the tragedy with help from Tom Stilton (Kjell Bergqvist, 30 Degrees in February), the former detective on the case who, due to personal circumstances, ended up a homeless man. At the same time, Stockholm’s homeless are being attacked, and the police can’t seem to solve these crimes, either.

(There have been no announcements regarding a UK or US programmer picking up Spring Tide, so stay tuned for updates, if any.)

Spring Tide (Springfloden)
Spring Tide (Springfloden): Julia Ragnarsson as Oliva Rönning, Kjell Bergqvist as Tom Stilton – Photo by Ulrika Malm, courtesy of Göteborg Film Festival

SWEDISH PREMIERES

Follow the Money (Bedrag) — Denmark

Thomas Bo Larsen (The Hunt, Winnie & Karina) and Nikolaj Lie Kaas (“Department Q” films, The Killing) star in this crime drama, which opens with the discovery of a dead body near a wind farm on the Denmark coast. Mads Justesen (Bo Larsen), the detective investigating the case, quickly realizes the death was no accident. The deeper he digs, the more he gets drawn into an extensive web of shady business and financial crime… and the more suspicious he becomes of Energen, the new and rapidly expanding green energy company, and of Alexander “Sander” Sødergren (Lie Kaas), the company’s CEO.

(BBC Four will air Follow the Money in 2016. There’s been no word about a US programmer screening the Danish-language series, but an American remake is in the works. Stay tuned for updates about all the above.)

Occupied (Okkupert) — Norway

This taut, exciting, must-watch political thriller rocked my Euro TV world. In the near (and fictive) future, Europe is in the throes of an energy and economic crisis, due to the shutdown of oil and gas production in the Middle East and in Norway, where the Green Party was recently elected to power. A tenuous thing, that power, especially after the EU sends Russia into Norway to restore production and get energy back to its member nations — a repercussion that Prime Minister Jesper Berg (Henrik Mestad, Lilyhammer) hadn’t counted on when he pulled the plug on fossil fuels. With parts of Norway being occupied by the Russians, anti-occupation resistance groups committing acts of terrorism, and formerly supportive nations like the US offering no assistance to the Norwegians, a once-peaceful and stable society finds itself devolving… quickly.

(Netflix US is currently streaming Occupied, and Sky Arts will air the series in 2016.)

The Red Couple (Punainen kolmio) — Finland

Love and politics are at the heart of this three-part miniseries, a romantic historical drama about the Finnish couple, Hertta Kuusinen (Vappu Nalbantoglu) and Yrjö Leino (Eero Aho). Prior to the start of World War II, they were grassroots political activists who were imprisoned for communist activism. After the war ended, they quickly climbed their way up Finland’s political structure to become top politicians who changed Finnish politics for good.

(There have been no announcements regarding a UK or US programmer picking up The Red Couple, so stay tuned for updates, if any.)

The Red Couple (Punainen kolmio)
The Red Couple (Punainen kolmio): Vappu Nalbantoglu as Hertta Kuusinen, Eero Aho as Yrjö Leino – Photo courtesy of Göteborg Film Festival

Trapped (Ófærð) — Iceland

Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (The Deep, A Walk Among the Tombstones) stars in this crime thriller as Andri, a man struggling in the aftermath of a divorce and the chief of police of Seyðisfjörður, a small town on the edge of Iceland. After an international ferry pulls into port, local fishermen discover a dismembered corpse, most likely the victim of foul play aboard the ferry. As Andri searches for clues and the killer, a blizzard blows in and traps everyone in town, including local residents, ferry passengers, and the murderer.

(BBC Four begins screening Trapped in February 2016. The Weinstein Company acquired US rights to the series, but has not released details about where it will screen. Stay tuned.)

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Göteborg Film Festival 2016: Seven Nordic Titles in Inaugural TV Drama Program