Göteborg Film Festival
Göteborg Film Festival 2024, according to me, Martin.

IMDb list of my viewed films

Geo-mi-jip (Cobweb)

Metamovie by Kim Jee-woon, KOR 2023

Lots of characters with confusing interactions make for a tedious start. But eventually, the film finds its right gear, and in time for the finale one is truly invested. The scene (not a oner) where they film the oner (or Plan séquence as they call it) is excellent, as its not just for the sake of technical show-offery, but actually adds tension to the first layer story. And the finished oner is a nice bonus finale.

4 toads of 6

One Life

Refugeerescue by James Hawes, UK 2023

Sir Anthony Hopkins shines as the very timid Nicky Winton, who reminisces about his pre-war effort to evacuate jewish children from Prague before the ever increasing threat of nazi Germany gets too real. The film itself is extremely by-the-numbers, but when it's done this well, it's really no bother. And the present day (well, 1987) story line is not just a framing device, but gets nearly as much screen time as the WW2 era, showing that experiences such as these will have effect even 50 years after the fact. Which is a great parallel to the emotional climax of the film, in which we're shown that Winton's (and others') hard work saved not only the ones who were put on the trains out of Nazi occupied Checkoslovakia, but their future families as well.
Extra shout out to the always brilliant Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Flynn, who not only resembles a young Sir Anthony, but also perfectly emulates his mannerisms.

5 buttons of 6

T Blockers

Queersplatter by Alice Maio Mackay, AUS 2023

This film was part of the Midnight Mania section of the festival, meaning that horror was to be the main genre. I don't really agree in this case. 80% is comedic drama, dealing with the angst of love life as a young person, as well as the very real and actual distress of societal bigotry against the queer community. The remaing 20% definitely qualifies as horror, with splatter and gore galore.
The mundane parts are skillfully made, with great acting and dialogue (although the Swedish translator seemed to be lacking in knowledge of contemporary English and Australian idioms). The horror bits invoke a certain Troll 2 vibe, which is funny and all, but a little too little.

4 bones of 6

Le Syndrome des amours passées (The (Ex)perience of Love)

Pastdealing by Ann Sirot, Raphaël Balboni, BEL 2023

Great concept that allows to experiment in different forms of consensual sex, as well as presenting it on film: the very non-explicit sex scenes are all cleverly portrayed. Characters and plot playfully lays out the story, and it's enjoyable mostly always. They even manage to solve the initial dilemma in a creative, but in hindsight quite obvious way.

5 paper bags of 6


SciFanRomance by Ulaa Salim, DEN 2023

Decent concept, decent execution. It's more a run-of-the-mill love story with a futuristic backdrop than an actual Sci Fi, though. Not much substance, and I fail to see why the film tries to push the idea that the alternative reality, in which the protagonist raises the child and *doesn't* help saving the world is somehow preferable to the one in which he does. But the film is beautiful, and the cast do a decent job.

3 atmospheres of 6

Copa 71

Footymentary by James Erskine, Rachel Ramsay, UK 2023

There are opinions to be had about women's football. Wages, stadia scheduling, media presence, all debatable, to a degree. But outright banning women from playing? And if not banning altogether, ban them from playing at certain pitches? Not getting any pay even though sponsors and audience pumps in money? Erasing a full on World Cup from the annals of sports history? No, that wouldn't fly today. Back in ye olde times (1971 is practically medieval, right?), sure. But today? Nah. Right? Right?
As a film, it is alright. Some interesting interview subjects, with stories worth listening to, but not overly mind blowing. The most interesting parts were how the host nation of Mexico seemed to have bribed the referee in the semi finals, and how the citizens made noises outside the hotel where the Danish team stayed the night before the final, making it satisfying to see the more sympathetic team eventually win. But those stories don't really reflect women's football. In fact, the villains of those pieces were most probably men, and definitely not the women who actually played.

3 sombreros of 6

La chimera (Chimären)

Graveheistdramedy by Alice Rohrwacher, ITA 2023

On paper, this is supposed to be a quirky dramedy about hidden treasures, both literal and metaphorical. But it's neither quirky, nor dramatic or funny. The characters are either boring, nasty or just plain vanilla, with the notable exception of Isabella Rosselini, who breathes much needed life into her character. For some reason they include two exposition songs (and I use the word very loosely) of five minutes each with the most monotone lack of melody sung (no, not actually) by someone who might at some point have had the concept of music explained to them, but never actually heard it. Luckily, I saw this film online at home, and could therefore mute the horrible mutilation.
There are some redeeming scenes, and, as mentioned earlier, Rossellini is great, saving this pile from being absolute garbage, barely making it to a very generous two.

2 dowsing rods of 6

Nattevagten 2 Dæmoner går i arv (Nightwatch: Demons are Forever)

Hauntinghorror by Ole Bornedal, DEN 2023

Comparisons to the first film is inevitable. The sequel, however, has a much less charismatic lead and completely fails to use the brilliance of Kim Bodnia. But the main beef is that they neither filmmaker, nor characters seem to have fun. The original was enjoyable because it had heart and fun among the otherwise pretty standard slasher horror. And, here, the sequel fails.

3 football goals of 6

Milchzähne (Milk Teeth)

Dendrodystopia by Sophia Bösch, GER 2024

Post apocalypse movies kan be a bit of a hit-or-miss. It doesn't necessarily need to take place in a barren wasteland with roving gangs of punks on motorcycles. But here we get a small community, living by the river, hunting, fishing and farming, picking apples from the vast orchard and generally living a quiet life. The only perceived threat they face is the occasional sheep being killed by the otherwise completely harmless wolf people. I simply don't get the conflict. That people are biased against things they don't understand? Sure, but show us the consequences of that, maybe have the wolf children to actually be pressured to lash out against the humans that oppress them, thereby giving false credence to the prejudices? Nah. Boring, and mostly pretty bland acting. Beautiful scenery, though.

2 furs of 6

Mother, Couch

Traumedy by Niclas Larsson, SWE/USA 2023

The dialogue is quick, witty and goes every which way in twists and turns. McGregor is perfect for the part, with excellent sparring from Rhys Ifans and Taylor Russel. Of course, Ellen Burstyn shines as the horrible mother who nevertheless instills a sense of love and not wanting to neglect her. Costume and set design create, along with the interesting characters, an eerie, dreamlike mindscape, and it's a therapeutic experience.

5 chainsaws of 6


Alternative reality documentary by Benjamin Ree, NOR 2024

I will, as soon as this festival has landed, go watch South Park s10e08 and My Name Is Earl s2ep14. Those who know, know.
This is a genuine and respectful eulogy of a truly wonderful man, cursed with a devastating physical affliction, but with a tender and brilliant mind, compassion and determination. It's told through the usual documentary tools (interviews, stills, establishing shots, home video tapes). But as much of Mats "Ibelin" Steen's social life was lived in the World of Warcraft, most of his journey was depicted using the same animation and avatars, replaying actual logged conversations and interactions, and it's a brilliant and fitting move. Life is so much more than what tradition and society will have you believe, as Ibelin, through the lens of Ree, can attest to.

5 chopped onions of 6

All You Need is Death

Folkmusichorror by Paul Duane, IRE 2023

It's a great idea, the folk song that leads to unnamed horrors if written down. A variation of the Ringu curse, with Gaelic folk music instead. Duane skillfully builds suspense, but ultimately fails to deliver on the actual horror. There are quite a few characters and plot points that appear out of the blue. All in all, a creepy film with a great horror concept, executed ok, but no more.

3 smudges of 6

May December

Ephebomirroring by Todd Haynes, USA 2023

With Portman and Moore attached, subtle expression acting is to be expected, and they deliver. Moore's character is a bit of an enigma. We shouldn't judge her, but on the other hand, she did have an, albeit consensual, affair with a minor. Symbolism ahoy, some too subtle to pick up, some too on the nose.

3 takes of 6

Une affaire d'honneur (The Edge of the Blade)

Fencinistdrama by Vincent Perez, FRA 2023

Beautiful fight choreography, some witty lines and solid performances make this a more than ok film. There can be made parallels between on one hand 19:th century misogyny and misplaced ideas of honour, and on the other hand contemporary misplaced ideas of "honour" and still rampant misogyny.

4 florettes of 6


Smacktiondramedy by Danny Boyle, UK 1996

Choose dialogue, choose acting, choose a creepy assed baby. Choose editing, iconic scenes, creepy assed babies, a toilet diving scene and monologues. Choose music, a creepy assed baby, pacing, freeze frames, timing and quintessential 90's feel.
I choose not to miss out on the double whammy of one of the best films ever, presented in junction with an award and an actor's talk with one of my personal heroes, Ewan MacGregor. Who needs reason when you have Obi-Mark Rentonobi?

6 pints of 6


Club Zero

Misinformation by Jessica Hausner, AUT 2023

Hausner is as stylised as the Andersons (Roy and Wes), with a mix of both. The film itself is eerie, yet familiar, and with today's food hysteria and pseudo science dialled up to eleven. I have a hard time judging whether the characters' (not only the teenagers', but mostly)  clunky dialogue is a conscious choice on Hausner's behalf, or simply them not up to the acting task. Sadly, I think it's the latter, as some manage a much better delivery than others.

3 forkfuls of 6

The Sweet East

Episodedramedy by Sean Price Williams, USA 2023

This film isn't like anything. It toys with narratives. Are the events unfolding real? Are they exaggerations? Perhaps complete fabrications? Few would behave the way our protagonist does, but Talia Ryder does, and makes us believe the unbelievable. She's absolutely brilliant, and lifts this already wacky, weird, witty tale another level. Williams keeps us guessing, and Ryder throws thespian curvballs with subtle face expressions and tones of voice, and it's completely captivating.

5 extremist groups of 6

Stella. Ein leben. (Stella. A Life.)

Informantinfernalia by Kilian Riedhof, GER 2023

Paula Beer shines as the complex protagonist Stella. Yes, she's the perpetrator, the vilain, and we have a hard time sympathising with her. But she is also a victim, and there is no doubt she would not have done those heinous acts without having been submitted to similar mistreatment herself. Riedhof, with no little assistance from Beer, manages to portray that forced duality without turning preachy.

5 passports of 6

Savvusanna sõsarad (Smoke Sauna Sisterhood)

Dowsingdocumentary by Anna Hints, EST 2023
Yet another fly-on-the-wall documentary, yet another mixed bag of testimonials, some dull, some gripping, some amusing. Pure and genuine, but not too entertaining.

3 löylykiulut of 6

Sweet Dreams

Plantationplatitude by Ena Sendijarevic, NED 2023

Stylized but effectively so. Few of the characters are purely good, nor evil, but rather multi faceted on a gliding scale from understandably distant to asshat with redeeming traits. Some acting chops combined with witty lines elevate the film, but due to some pacing issues and contrived plot points it can't really reach the top shelves.

4 rocking horses of 6

The Zone of Interest

Tangenttragedy by Jonathan Glazer, POL 2023

The juxtaposition of seemingly happy family life (albeit with some bumps and mishaps) and the horrors we know goes on just past the fence is effective. It mirrors the compartmentalising we tend to do in real life, inadvertently choosing to ignore the injustices going on in the periphery, that will just go away and seize to be as long as we don't look straight at it.

5 lilacs of 6

Ty mene lubysh? (Do You Love Me?) 

Detachmentdrama Tonia Noyabrova, UKR 2023

Coming-of-age stories have been made before, and better. The film fails to engage, despite Karyna Khymchuk's stellar portrayal and the interesting 90's post cold war esthetic.

2 ugly easter sweaters of 6

Another Persona

AI experiment by IngmAIr Botman, SWE 2024

The film is the same as the original from 1966, with one huge difference: Liv Ullman's face is (mostly) swapped with that of Finnish actress Alma Pöysti, by means of AI.
As an experiment, it's a bold choice. The character have three spoken lines in the entire film, and as such, every thought, every emotion and reaction, is conveyed via facial expressions. And modern AI technology is nowhere near to match the acting chops of Liv Ullman. On the other hand, the process creates an uncanny valley effect, and so strengthen the feeling of unease and blurred identify lines, fitting well with the theme of the original film.

Lynch chiens of Narrator: pomegranate

clock  soapberetowlghostmasks

Leaving Jesus

Dupeumentary by Ellen Fiske, SWE 2023

Another fly-on-the-wall documentary, this time about a support retreat for people who have left religious clutches. Some stories are more gripping than others, and I think they could have aimed to hit harder. Perhaps seeing some of the parents, pastors and other perpetrators would give the stories of abuse (mostly mental, but also sexual and physical) and their point of view would have an even bigger impact.

3 trustfalls of 6

Chlopi (The Peasants)

Agrarian aggravation by Hugh Welchman, DK Welchman

The animation, especially the scenery and backgrounds, is literally artwork. Literal oil paintings. The people are animated using some kind of rotoscoping, blurring the line between animation and live action.
The style lends itself nicely to the story. A tale as old as time, wherein women are effectively treated as property, albeit in the guise of honour and marriage. Few, if any, of the characters are purely good, adding an extra layer of realism. It's emotional, well paced and, as previously stated, stunningly beautiful. Had we had just a little more motivation on behalf of the two leads, and perhaps a few chuckles here and there, it would reach one higher point, grade-wise.

4 shots of vodka of 6


Maybemurdermystery by Akihiro Toda

Intricately told, balancing quite well what part of the mystery we the audience can figure out ourselves and what is being spelt out. Good location design, crafty framing, good story. A bit serious at times; it probably wouldn't hurt to go a bit more cheerful during the flashbacks to Ichiko's happier days.

4 slices of cake of 6


Arachnohorror by Sébastien Vanicek, FRA 2023

Mix Braindead, Alien, Gremlins and, of course, Arachnophobia, mix and stir and serve in a Parisian suburb, and you have Vermines. Note: not every film featuring youth in the Parisian suburbs is La Haine.
Vanicek skillfully builds tension, alternating between character building and suspense build-up, and the first half of the film is genuinely captivating. But then he falls into the same trap as many creepy-crawley-flicks do: the suspense, the lurking danger, gives way to too much and too repetitive. Our heroes seem to find the same horror tropes over and over again, yet not being internally consistent. And perhaps it's just me, but I can't see how one clearly visible (and defeatable) big-ass spider can be scarier than a gazillion of regular sized ones , creepy-crawling all over the place.

3 sneakers of 6

El sueño de la sultana (Sultana's Dream)

Reverie by Isabel Herguera, GER 2023

I went in with an expectation of hit-or-miss. It turned out to be almost as uneven as I had thought, but more hits than misses. Often suitable and expressive animation to accompany the thought inducing themes. Some scenes dragged on for too long, some seemed out of place, and at times the Message was as subtle as a neon yellow sledge foghorn. But in general, quite a good experience.

3 styles of 6

Nähtamatu võitlus (The Invisible Fight)

Monk fu by Rainer Sarnet, EST 2023

It begins with a wonderfully over the top pastiche of 70's Kung Fu flicks, in the vein of Kung Fury, and for a while the playfulness and pure love of the genre is funny, albeit not LOL:y. The idea of making the fighting monks orthodox christian rather than Buddhists is brilliant, but not well developed. Soon the fun just becomes meh, bordering on cringe, and it's clear to me that this would have made an excellent short film, but not so much a feature.

2 platform soles of 6

The New Boy

Magicmisery by Warwick Thornton, AUS 2023

Beautiful scenery and brilliant performances by the two leads (debutant Aswan Reid and legend Cate Blanchett) are the highlights in this surprisingly cheerful tale of a very dark chapter in Australian history. The addition of magic to a story that usually focuses on the bleaker sides of nun run orphanages makes it stand out, but doesn't necessarily make the film better. It can't seem to decide whether the magic is real or symbolic, and the ambiguity is more confusing than thought provoking. I like the scene about how his baptism affects his innate magic, though.

3 snakes of 6

Mars Express

ScAI Noir by Jérémie Perin, FRA 2023

Other than the rather dull design of human faces, the animation is absolutely gorgeous. Intricate world building , creative futuristic ideas, extrapolating themes of AI dilemmas and clever use of foreshadowing adds to a finely crafted story. Add well written characters, a good plot, and well choreographed action sequences, and we have an animated Sci Fi Noir rivalling Akira.

5 RoboCats of 6

Hanteringen av odöda

Deaddealing by Thea Hvistendahl, NOR 2023

I am one of those who think Låt den rätte komma in (Let the right one in) is overrated, so I had low expectations on Ajvides take on zombies, a monster that is objectively more boring than vampires. And with this, I'm done with film adaptations of his books. Horrible acting, dull cinematography, slow as a slug in syrup, and oh so dull. And boring, tedious, dull and uneventful. Snore.

1 Lenny of 6


Cuando acecha la maldad (When Evil Lurks)

Possession obsession by Demián Rugna, ARG 2023

Gore, pus, curses and blood. And demons, virii, virus demons and splatter. Ancient artefacts, rigid rules, creepy kids and corrupt cops. Evil apparently lurks all over the place, with no structure or agenda, other than when it wants to. I can't make heads, nor sense, of this, story wise. Some creepy moments, fo sho, and the dog bit was effective. But as horror cinema go, nah.

2 goats of 6


Subwayscenery by Pavol Pekarcík, Ivan Ostrochovský, SVK/UKR 2023

A fly-on-the-wall documentary that let the imagery do the telling. As such, it's a mixed bag. Some scenes add depth and personal touches to the horrible war, others references neighbourhoods in Kiev the average viewer is unable to relate two, some are plain dull, and some (like when the kids finally get bathed in the rays of sun shining in from the stairway) hit you right in the feels.

3 view masters of 6


Painter portrait by Quentin Dupieux, FRA 2023

A film about an eccentric, surreal and arrogant painter should be made in an eccentric, surreal and arrogant manner. Although, I would probably have subverted expectations and gone all straight forward. That said, the surrealism is on the low, making way for more playful timey-wimey wobbly-wobblyness. And it's actually subdued compared to Quentin Dupieux's last film,  Smoking Causes Coughing (GFF 2023). The priest's inceptiony dream and the multiple actors portraying the title character were ups, but the down was the lack of big laughs in what could have been an absurd comedy about my favourite painter. Still enjoyable.

4 canes of 6


Celluloidrelay by numerous, SWE 2023-2024

Jag är elden 4/6
Järnridån 3/6
Vrå 3/6
Isblink 3/6
My gig in Sweden 4/6
Favours 4/6
Qirat 1/6
En hjältes död 4/6

3.3 mixed media of 6


(winners presented way further down):

Best supporting actor:

Hayati Azis - Sweet Dreams
Rhys Ifans - Mother, Couch
Taylor Russell - Mother, Couch
Helena Bonham Carter - One Life
Simon Rex - The Sweet East

Best leading actor:

Paula Beer - Stella. Ein leben.
Talia Ryder - The Sweet East
Anthony Hopkins - One life
Ewan McGregor - Mother, Couch
Johnny Flynn - One life

Best ensemble: 

One life
The Sweet East
Mother, Couch
May December

Best director:

Jonathan Glazer - The Zone of Interest
Ena Sendijarevic - Sweet Dreams
Sean Price Williams - The Sweet East
Niclas Larsson - Mother, Couch
Ann Sirot - Le Syndrome des amours passées
James Hawes - One Life

Best film:

Mars Express  
The Sweet East
Mother, Couch
One Life
And as per usual (it's a tradition, or an old charter, or something....), it seems proper to announce

This year's.....

….cinema: Storan

….low-point: Hanteringen av odöda

….shortage: Animation

….best seat: Middle of front row, balcony 1, Storan

….cinematography: ÓKim Ji-yong, Geomijip

….reading: Hyperion by Dan Simmons

….most uneven: El sueño de la sultana

….set/production design: Mother, Couch

….vignette film: PersonAI

….weather: Mostly fine

….screenplay: Nick Pinkerton for The Sweet East

….should be caught at the cinema: Bastarden

….transport: Trams, E-bike, feet

….lost item: None

….Skarsgård: None, that I could see

….animated feature: Mars Express

….documentary: Ibelin. D'uh.

....rising star: Talia Ryder

....most GFF 1992-2004: The Sweet East

....music: All You Need is Death

....most frequent actor: Ewan McGregor

....villain: Putin - Photophobia (reallife), Catherine Siggins -  All You Need Is Death (portrayal)

And, who won? Well:

Best supporting actor:

Helena Bonham Carter - One Life

Best leading actor:

Talia Ryder - The Sweet East

Best ensemble:

Mother, Couch

Best director:

James Hawes - One Life

Best film:


Directed by Benjamin Ree, produced by Ingvil Giske

Film. Filmfilmfilm.

(c) Martin Smedendahl 2024