The focus of this month’s column is a political-themed feature film from an acclaimed Danish-Palestinian film director who was named the Best New Nordic Voice in 2013.

To a Land Unknown, a Danish – Greek – UK – Dutch co-production, has been selected as one of the titles to show at the side event Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival this month. The Directors’ Fortnight was established in 1969 to highlight independent films from throughout the world.

Directed and written by Danish-Palestinian film director Mahdi Fleifel, the film centres around the story of the desperate attempts of two Palestinian cousins who are stranded in the Greek capital Athens to find a way to reach Germany.

Fleifel was raised in the refugee camp in Lebanon and later in Helsingør in Denmark. In 2009 he graduated from the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, UK, and he founded the London-based production company Nakba FilmWorks in 2010.

May 2024 Scandinavian Film & TV column

Mahdi Fleifel, director of To a Land Unknown. Photo: Stephan Röhl

The director often examines themes of social injustice and the struggles of Palestinians under occupation in his films. Fleifel is no stranger to the Cannes Film Festival. In 2017, his short film A Drowning Man was included in the Official Selection Competition at the highly acclaimed film festival.

The Cannes Film Festival will also be the world premiere of To a Land Unknown and it has so far sold the rights to be shown in French cinemas. At the time of writing, the release to other countries is not yet known, but undoubtedly the exposure it will get at the festival will lead to a wide release.

The Directors’ Fortnight opens with the French film Ma Vie Ma Gueule directed by Sophie Fillières. But the most high-profile film is arguably India Donaldson’s Good One, which also showed at the Sundance Film Festival – the world’s most high-profile independent film festival. While no other Scandinavian films have been selected for the side event, other films highlight the huge diversity and films from the US, Japan, Egypt, Taiwan, Portugal, India, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Spain and Canada are also represented.

From a Nordic perspective, the Norwegian film Armand directed by Halfdan Ullman Tøndel and the Icelandic film When the Light Breaks directed by Rúnar Rúnarsson will show at the Cannes Film Festival.

Scandinavian film and TV: March 2024

Anders Lorenzen is a Danish blogger and film and TV enthusiast living in London.

The Cannes Film Festival runs 14-25 May.

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