Toronto’s movie loving audience gets a yearly dose of treats in the beginning of the fall. And not only did Swedish films break a record during the 10-day event, but the country’s brightest actor also stepped up as one of the frontrunners for an Oscar.

Alicia Vikander’s time is now. In recent years the 27-year-old actress has made an extraordinary impression with her mixture of dynamism and sensuality in films like "Anna Karenina" (2012) and "The Royal Affair" (2012). But in 2015 she is rising fast and taking the A-list by storm. She has no fewer than eight films with meaty roles, like "The Man from U.N.C.L.E and "Ex Machina," which are both released this year. And she voices one of the most talked about documentaries: "Ingrid Bergman - in her own words" ("Jag är Ingrid").


In Toronto she was the talk of the town for her role in the anticipated British film "The Danish Girl" by Tom Hooper (The Kings Speech). She plays the wife of the transgender pioneer (played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne) and demonstrates an astonishing range of emotional depth and provocative strength, mixed with grace and receptivity — her Oscar odds look pretty solid.

Even more fascinating, but not gaining as much attention as Vikander, were the Swedish-made feature films in Toronto. All four, a record number at the festival, had a coming-of-age theme at the core. In Alexandra-Therese Keining's innovative fairytale “Girls Lost” (“Pojkarna”) the focus lies on three Swedish girls, gender identity and sexual awakening, with a supernatural twist. In Magnus von Horn’s excellent debut feature “The Here After” (“Efterskalv”), previously screened at Cannes, a teenage boy (pop singer Ulrik Munther) returns home to an environment that finds it hard to forgive after serving a prison sentence. This insanely dense and controlled drama unfolds a thoughtful psychological portrait that shakes the inner core and interrogates the essence of quilt.
Another powerful and surprisingly attention-grabbing film, but with a less accessible narration, was the ironically named “Granny’s Dancing on a Table” by Hanna Sköld. Here we follow a 13-year-old girl (Blanca Engström) who grows up with her violent father, isolated from society. The brutality she endures threatens her. Yet, through an unshakable fantasy depicted with dolls, she is able to create a world within, from which she draws the strength to survive.
The last Swedish film at the festival, which took home the audience award at Göteborg International Film Festival and the Crystal Bear in Berlin, was Sanna Lenken’s debut feature “My Skinny Sister” (“Min lilla syster”). Review: My Skinny Sister Here the perspective comes from the tubby girl Stella, superbly acted by Rebecca Josephson, the granddaughter of legendary Ingmar Bergman actor Erland Josephson. The complex little girl, who is on the tip of adolescence, idolizes her older sister: a good-looking ice-skater (Amy Diamond) who suffers from an eating disorder. With nuance, charm and unusually strong performances this touching film delivers an authentic light on a significant subject. Beautiful yet poignant “My Skinny Sister” deserves to be seen by a large audience, not only by Swedes and highly enthusiastic Canadians at Toronto International Film Festival.

By Niclas Goldberg

For more info, see (“My Skinny Sister”) (“Girls Lost”) (“Granny’s Dancing on a Table”) (“The Here After”)