The festival's most spellbinding and surprising opening shots come from Norway with a sow and her piglets in the spotlight. In the prestigious main slate, where some of the best films of the year are highlighted, the Norwegian documentary "Gunda" stands out. Oscar winning actor Joaquin Phoenix is the executive producer for this black and white gem that chronicles the daily life of the sow Gunda and other animals on a farm, meeting them on their own terms. Without humans or dialog, the dramatic tensions shudder in every frame with help from otherworldly beautiful and crisp photography and strong sound mix. In the most humble way, this film could argue for veganism without pointing fingers and change perspectives on levels we barely knew. Regardless, Gunda stays in the mind long afterward.

Other films that shouldn’t be missed include the Georgian debut "Beginning," an ascetic Michael Haneke-inspired drama about a persecuted family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Steve McQueen ("12 Years a Slave") kicked off the festival with the outstanding musical romance "Lovers Rock" and dives into the main slate with three films, out of five from Amazon's TV series "Small Ax." Together with "Mangrove" and "Red, White and Blue," McQueen portrays various lives of West Indians in London back in the 70s and 80s, and the rotten racism and injustice they encounter.
Shot during the pandemic, Spanish master Pedro Almodóvar ("Talk To Her") returns with the 30-minutes-long "The Human Voice." This time he puts Tilda Swinton, isolated in an apartment, in an irresistible one-woman show in his first English speaking film.


Worth your time are Taiwan's "Days" and China's "The Calming." Also "Night of the Kings" from the Ivory Coast and the already hyped Frances McDormand feature "Nomadland" from USA, screening as the festival's Centerpiece selection. Not to mention the quietly devastating nonfiction "Notturno" and the very French "The Salt of Tears," where love makes the day.

Stay home or drive in
How can you see these films? After difficult decisions during many months, the organizers decided to make a virtual platform for people all over the country to get access. Every film has a maximum allotment of tickets with a few hours limited viewing window.
To save and support the festival this year, people can also attend drive-in screenings in their cars at locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. To pull this off, the non-profit Rooftop Films, known for its outdoor summer screenings in New York, became a crucial key player and partner. While the significant U.S. film festivals Tribeca, South by Southwest and Telluride were forced to cancel due the pandemic, New York Film Festival keeps the movie ball rolling. For more information, see

By Niclas Goldberg

Neon, the distributor of the Oscar winning "Parasite," will release "Gunda" in North America.

The Nordic International Film Festival will this year also team up with Rooftop Films and A24 for two nights of Nordic films at the Brooklyn Army Terminal on October 15 and 16. The official selection will be viewable online October 16 - October 20. For more info, see