Exclusive: National Festival Director of Palace Cinemas Elysia Zeccola Hill talks on the 2015 Scandinavian Film Festival

For another year, the diversity found in Scandinavian cinema is being celebrated across Australia with the Scandinavian Film Festival. The festival has currently began in Sydney and Melbourne and will be kicking off in other major Australian cities throughout this month. To learn more about the evolution of the festival and what we can expect this year we caught up with National Festival Director of Palace Cinemas Elysia Zeccola Hill. Check out the interview below.

Please tell us who you are and what your role is with the Scandinavian Film Festival.

My name is Elysia Zeccola Hill and I am the National Festivals Director of Palace Cinemas and I have had the great pleasure of selecting the films in the 2015 Scandinavian Film Festival line-up.

How did you get involved with the festival and how long have you been involved with it?

I have been working in the family business, Palace Cinemas, for 25 years if you count when I started cleaning the cinemas and making choc tops in my school holidays when I was 12 years old. However I’ve been working on the festivals for the last 16 years. In travelling to the Cannes Film Festival we saw so many films from this exciting region and wondered why they were not being shown in Australia, so we started producing this festival to give Scandinavian films a place to be seen. This is the second exciting year of this festival.

How do you think the festival has grown or changed over the years?

Last year’s inaugural event opened with a bang and we were thrilled by the audience reaction – there was clearly an interest in this stylish and sophisticated filmmaking. This year is even stronger, we picked up two films direct from the Cannes Film Festival including the winner of Un Certain Regard called RAMS which is a stunning Icelandic drama and an unmissable festival highlight.

Tell us a little bit about how the curation for the festival works?

To curate the festival we see films either sent to us by the film institutes, or by attending festivals like Berlin, Cannes, Toronto and Venice in order to see and select the best new films, many have only just been released in their own countries and are highly awarded.

What are your 3 highlights / must see films of this year?

My three favourites are UNDERDOG which is a terrific drama about a 23-year-old woman who has fled mass unemployment in Sweden in search of more opportunities in Oslo, Norway, only to end up in the centre of a love triangle. Our festival guest Bianca Kronlof is brilliant in this film and she has been an absolute delight to work with; LIFE IN A FISHBOWL is a moving drama with interweaving stories that cleaned up at the Icelandic Academy awards; and RAMS which grabbed my attention in Cannes where it screened to packed cinemas and won Un Certain Regard, is about two estranged brothers from remote Iceland who come together to save their prize-winning flock of sheep, it’s a wonderful film on many levels.

For those unfamiliar with Scandinavian cinema, what should they watch, from the history of their cinema, to get them in the spirit?

Watch any of the wonderfully made Nordic Noir TV series to get in the mood for this new cinematic wave of crime thrillers such as THE ABSENT ONE which is the highly anticipated follow up to last year’s hit THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES. Also our Closing Night selection INGRID BERGMAN – IN HER OWN WORDS is a fascinating documentary about the Swedish girl who became one of the most beloved actresses from Hollywood to Rome, it captures three important periods of Bergman’s career – the Swedish period, the American period and the Italian period – including footage from classic films, interviews and never-before-seen footage so it is a great history lesson on cinema from that golden era.

To learn more about the Scandinavian Film Festival head to the official website HERE