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Beat's guide to this year's Scandinavian Film Festival

Escape the cold this winter with some of the top new Nordic films. 

The annual Scandinavian Film Festival is back for its fifth year, bringing a breadth of international treasures in its tow. The program features 25 new releases from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway - most of which will be making their Australian debut at the festival - promising to make a mark on Australian viewers. With such a huge range of genres and films to pick from, the program can be overwhelming for those unsure where to start, so we've got a rundown of this year's SFF top picks to ease your selection process. 

Thelma 

Marrying universal themes of growing up with supernatural elements, this sci-fi drama is a suspenseful watch masking an underlying message that will resonate with any viewer. The arthouse style thriller follows Thelma as she heads to university in Oslo, leaving her strict parents and rural hometown for the first time. Upon arriving at university, Thelma discovers she holds terrifying psychokinetic powers, throwing her into a tumultuous journey of self-discovery. Directed by Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier, Thelma is a spine-tingling supernatural thriller laced with moments of romance and humanity. 

Heavy Trip

The first ever Finnish comedy to be screened at SXSW, Heavy Trip is a hilarious tale of a heavy metal band trying to make their mark on the world. Having spent 12 years playing covers in his band, Impaled Rektum, without ever penning an original tune or performing for an audience, Turo decides to grab the bull by its horns when offered a chance to perform at one of Norway's biggest heavy metal festivals. Along with his bandmates, Turo steals a van and flees to Norway, resulting in the road-trip of a lifetime full of unimaginable antics.

Under The Tree

Accused of cheating, 30-something year old Alti is kicked out by his wife and forced to move back in with his parents. Drama ensues when his parents Inga and Baldvin clash with their neighbour and old friend Konrad and his wife Eybjorg over tree branches that are hanging over their shared fence. The passive aggressive dispute turns into an all-out war full of petty attacks, from property damage to stolen pets. All the while, Alti struggles to come to terms with his damaged relationship with his wife. Under The Tree is darkly funny and all too relatable to anyone who has spent an extended period of time with their family or lived in suburbia.

Amateurs

Upon deciding to open a new Swedish location, German supermarket chain Superbilly are met with demand by the residents of Lafors to bring the new store to their small town and, hopefully, boost the local economy. To win over the supermarket chain, the town community board decides to make a promotional video that showcases the heart of their community. When the video is put into the hands of a few local high school students, the results are novelettish and highly amateur. 

While We Live

After receiving word that his surrogate father, Peter, is terminally ill, Kristan returns to his hometown of Gribskov for the first time in five years. Upon his arrival, he is met with the realisation that the small town still holds him accountable for the accident that drove him out of the town and tore his family apart half a decade ago. Tensions simmer as Peter denotes his final wish for everyone to get along. A heartfelt drama based on true events, While We Live is a multi-award winning film that will tug your heartstrings.

A Horrible Woman

After meeting Marie at a party, Rasmus falls head over heels and a relationship quickly flourishes between the pair. Thinking he has met his dream woman, the soft-natured Rasmus is brought crashing down to earth upon learning that Marie might not be as wonderful as he first thought. The Danish box-office hit explores the influences of perspective within intimate relationships, reeling you in and leaving you unsure of who is at fault. Is Marie really a horrible woman or are Rasmus' timid tendencies and reluctance to communicate how he really feels to blame?

What Will People Say

Nisha has been juggling her roles as a conservative high-school student at home with her strict parents and a party-going teenager who sneaks out at night to meet her friends, a double life which is stripped away when her parents announce they are sending her to live in Pakistan against her wishes. The partially-autobiographical piece explores the peaks and troughs of adolescence and trying to please everyone. What Will People Say is a powerful piece exploring the roles of women and immigrants in modern society.

The Saint Bernard Syndicate

The Saint Bernard Syndicate follows two European entrepreneurs, Rasmus and Frederik, on their unique endeavour to build an empire breeding Saint Bernard dogs in China. The journey is fuelled by news that Rasmus has ALS, inspiring Frederik to teach him to seize the moment and live life his way. The pair move to China, with their own Saint Bernard along for the ride, only to realise that their business model might not be as flawless as they had pictured. The journey results in a comedic ride for the odd-couple duo as they desperately try to make it in the business world.

The Scandinavian Film Festival is happening at Palace Theatres across Australia from July 10 - August 5. For the full program, session times and bookings, head to the SFF website