Scandinavian Film Festival L.A. celebrates 20th anniversary with Oscar Best Foreign Language Film submissions screenings

By Oliver Carnay

For nineteen years, Best Foreign Language film contenders and award-winning features, shorts, and documentary films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Baltic neighbors Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia has been parading at the Scandinavian Film Festival Los Angeles, yearly housed at the Writers Guild of America Theater located in Beverly Hills (135 S. Doheny Dr., corner Wilshire Blvd.).

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the first festival in 2019 – SFFLA will run for two weekends starting from January 5 & 6 and after two weeks, January 19 & 20th. Among Oscar contender films for 2019 Best Foreign Language Film included this year is Sweden’s “Border” (based on a short story “Gräns” by John Ajvide Lindqvist) — a custom officer who can smell fear develops an unusual attraction to a strange traveler while aiding a police investigation, which will call into question her entire existence. This is one of my favorites I’ve seen at the AFI Fest last November and it tops my 10 Best for Foreign Language Film so don’t miss this one! It’s showing Saturday, January 5th at 2:30 p.m.

An Opening Night Gala on January 5th will have a buffet starting at 5:30 p.m. and following is Denmark’s Oscar submission “The Guilty” directed by Gustav Möller. This claustrophobic thriller, precisely paced and grippingly played by sole actor in the film Jakob Cedergren will keep you at the edge of your seat.

Sunday, January 6 will have Finland’s submission “Euthanizer” at 11 a.m. A 50-year old mechanic and animal whisperer prefers to personally deliver justice to careless owners who neglected their pets, but his life is disrupted when he encounters a neo-Nazi gang, and a young nurse who understands his psychosis.

Then, Norway’s Oscar submission “What will people say?” by Director Iram Haq is screening at 3 p.m. A 16-year old Norweigian teen-ager is the perfect Pakistani daughter at home with her family but leads a double life partying outside, until her father catches her with her boyfriend inside her room. Soon she will suffer the consequences of living with relatives in Pakistan, a country she has never been before and forced to adapt to her parent’s culture.

On its second weekend, January 19 (Saturday), Estonia’s Oscar submission “Take It Or Leave It” screens at 3 p.m.. A 30-year old construction worker is surprised to hear that his ex-girlfriend who he hasn’t seen for six months is about to go into labor. Her girlfriend is not ready for motherhood and if he doesn’t want the kid either, the little girl will be put up for adoption.

And finally, Lithuania’s Oscar entry for Best Documentary “Wonderful Losers” is playing at 12:30 p.m., Sunday, January 20th. They’re called water carriers, domestics, ‘gregarios,’ ‘Sancho Panzas’ of professional cycling who are always at the back of the group, with no right for a personal victory are wonderful losers but true warriors of professional cycling.