The Canadian Film Institute kicked off its third annual Baltic-Nordic film festival on Friday night, after collaborating with embassies of the Baltic and Nordic nations, and – for the first time ever – with Ottawa’s Winterlude.
Bright Nights Baltic-Nordic Festival began by showing the award-winning Swedish film, Simon and the Oaks, at Library and Archives Canada.
Tom McSorley, director of the Canadian Film Institute, says it’s hard to tell this early on in the festival what the partnership with Winterlude means in terms of turnout. So far, it “has definitely meant more winter,” he jokes, referring to the snowstorm ensuing outside.
McSorley says the night is about recognizing the relationship that Sweden and Canada have, especially, he jokes, when it comes to hockey.
“We have Daniel Alfredsson and now we have Erik Karlsson, so in Ottawa, Sweden has a given us a lot,” he tells the crowd, laughing.
Simon and the Oaks tells the tale of Simon and Isak, two young boys in the 1940s, and their unlikely friendship during the war. The film is directed by Lisa Ohlin and is based on the bestselling novel by Marianne Fredriksson. It received rave reviews and was scouted by Canadian Film Institute staff at international film festivals.
Sweden’s ambassador to Canada, Teppo Tauriainen, says Simon and the Oaks was one of his favourite books growing up. “I’m delighted to see it turned into a movie,” he says.
Marley Arvidsson says she has attended Bright Nights for the past two years, and praised the CFI for its hard work. “It’s great that the Canadian Film Institute invests in showing these films. They’re absolutely worth the watch. I don’t think there’s a dry eye in this room,” she says.
Films will continue to be shown throughout the month, featuring titles from Lithuania, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Iceland and Norway.
Bright Nights continues until March.