When Toronto Film Festival wrapped up its 41st annual event in September, the cinematic joy "La La Land” from the U.S. took home the top honor. Unlike this sun-drenched, romantic homage to the classic movie musicals, the Swedish films at the festival had a less than splashing rhythm. But they sure gave a long lasting impression.
Coming straight out of Venice Film Festival with two prestigious prizes, Amanda Kernell's debut "Sami Blood” stirs up emotions with beauty and its dreadful theme. This coming-of-age tale about Elle-Marja, a bright Sami girl’s troubled childhood and the prejudices against Sami people in 1930s Sweden, is a compelling piece of filmmaking. From the perspective of this young teenage girl, Keller is shedding a light on the shameful treatment of these native people of Lappland. Elle-Marja and her sister, and all Sami girls in the area, are forcefully removed from their families and sent to boarding school that is intended to raise their level of “acceptance” to the rest of the Swedish society. But Elle-Marja, wonderfully played by Lene Cecilia Sparrok, is strong minded and refuses to accept her destiny.

Another story worth mentioning covers prejudices, norms, being excluded and the wish for acceptance, inclusion ... the original "The Giant.” This blend of docu-drama realism and fantasy follows the severely deformed and autistic Rikard (Christian Andrèn) and he strives to win a pétanque championship in order to earn his mothers love. Johannes Nyholm’s feature debut explore this young mans journey with a rare touch and brave approach — Rikards daydreaming of being a Titan walking grandiose Swedish landscapes gives the film refreshing proportions. An outsider’s struggle has many different shapes.


Two Swedish short films also made the cut to the big festival in Canada. Dawid Ullgren’s “Mr. Sugar Daddy” depicts a love story that never happened, about an older man who falls in love with a younger man, and is thrown into a game with no winners. "Because the World Never Stops” by Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson is a revealing and funny short documentary shot live in the studio during the evening broadcast on Swedish public television — a hidden place we never visit.

At the heart of Swedish director Kasper Collin’s brilliant feature documentary "I Called Him Morgan,” we follow the absorbing yet contradicting relationship between the great jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and his street smart wife Helen. In stunning images mixed with rare footage and interviews Collins manages to create one of the best portraits in years. This story-within-a-story is not only mellow, tragic and utterly beautiful but also an artistic homage to jazz music and to what New York City used to be. You will really fly high on this on. "I called him Morgan” will also be screened at the New York Film Festival in October.

Niclas Goldberg for Nordstjernan