The Stockholm Film Festival's installation at NK. Photo: B Ascarelli/SR
Film Festival

"His films make my heart beat faster"

"His films make my heart beat faster"
9:03 min

The 21st annual Stockholm International Film Festival is now in full swing. Bulging with 300 pages, the heavy catalog promised a range of events, from seminars to competitions to screenings. At the top of its marquee was a visit by the famed Indy director Gus Van Sant.

The festival has focused this year's theme by asking this question: How does film affect you? In other words, how does it make you feel. So, even before the red carpets officially rolled out, the festival held a slightly strange event to get people curious.

In the lobby of one of Stockholm's biggest department stores, two screens hang on a blue wall. You can't see what's on the other side directly, but that's where a volunteer sits watching a movie. One of the screens gives visitors the chance to watch her watch that movie. The other screen shows a graph of her heart rate. Based on the electrocardiogram, visitors are supposed to guess which film she's watching. If they guess correctly, they win a prize from the festival.

The festival's director, Git Scheynius, tells Radio Sweden that she hopes the idea of measuring people's vital signs while they watch film will make them interested in culture, which is, for her, a serious issue. She believes that culture is a keystone of society, but that it often gets ignored by decision-makers.

She says that what differentiates the Stockholm festival from some 2,500 other international such events is its focus on emerging directors. The festival runs several competitions for young filmmakers. Among them is one where budding artists vye to win one kilometer of free film stock. That's enough to tape about 50 minutes of material for a short film.

But the festival is not all about finding the next generation; part of it celebrates established names. The festival bestowed Gus Van Sant with this year's Visionary Award.

The acclaimed American independent filmmaker came to Stockholm to receive the festival's Visionary Award in the old-style Skandia theater here in town. Holly Hunter, star of the silver screen, presented it to him.

During the on-stage interview, Van Sant spoke to a sympathetic audience about his beginnings as a young director when he "indentured" himself in New York to earn enough money to make his films. He also talked about his beginnings as a painter and his decision to live and work out of Portland, Oregon, rather than Hollywood or New York.

And how do his films affect Scheynius? "They make my heart beat faster," she says.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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