It was an interesting year– actually a little scary. We are all painfully aware of the state of the economy. Funding from abroad trickled to a halt. Everybody is in a “hold” pattern. Financing a film festival is no “cake walk.” “Maybe next year.” is not a good enough response when you’re concerned about THIS year! But we forged on– with more films than ever. And, thank God, more audience than ever! We’ve always had excellent audiences at the festival from the very beginning. But this year attendance was up by 40%! That makes me VERY happy– because it helps pay the rent! But even more so, it makes me happy to see awareness and audience for the films grow!
I love to share excellent films– and I love the sense of “discovery” when an audience experiences something new– something different, something that evokes a response. And what a wide range of expression there is between films like Klaus Haro’s LETTERS TO FATHER JACOB, and Henrik Ruben Genz’s TERRIBLY HAPPY, and Espen Sandberg’s epic MAX MANUS. And I believe we offer a unique opportunity for an annual full program of films from one part of the world. Some entertain. Some inform. Some inspire. And, as they say– “the cream rises.”
I firmly believe that art builds bridges– I’ve experienced that constantly as a classical singer whether performing in opera, musical theater, concerts, or recital venues for varied audiences in different parts of the world. I also know that teaching builds bridges. I teach singing privately already since graduate school at Northwestern University. I also teach at a wonderful summer program in Florence, Italy– the Bel Canto Institute www.belcantoinst.com . I also see an educational process going on at Scandinavian film festival L.A. Some of our audience takes advantage of the full immersion course seeing nearly every film. Others see films from a particular country. Then they respond– there’s passion, or not, and discussions ensue. There’s an educational and cultural process happening. I always say that the networking and “social” process that happens at the festival is an important component. We’re also happy when we can have wonderful directors like Klaus Haro and Henrik Ruben Genz at the festival to engage in “the conversation.” Our audience also included Iranian, Bulgarian, Mexican, Chinese, Czeck, and Lebanese film makers. That made me happy! Film is best when it brings people together. I supposed you can experience film in isolation. But we have all too much isolation in the world. Certainly we respond to films individually– but it’s nice to have a venue to share response, to keep “the conversation” going.
I know I’ve had strong response to film since I was a little kid– I really believed what I was seeing. So much so that when I was in kindergarten I came home from a Saturday matinee where a cartoon character kept using an umbrella as a parachute. That afternoon I got an umbrella and tried it from the garage roof! Fortunately it was into a sand-pile and I didn’t break anything.” Later, in high school, I’d sneak off across town to the only “art house” theater that screened foreign films with titles like “The Virgin Spring” and “Cries and Whispers.” My relationship with Scandinavian film had begun before I even knew it!
When we experience the “cinema-cultural exchange” of film we engage in an art form that, with varied vocabulary, gives voice to our deepest feelings– the good, the bad, the ugly. And not only do we express our own– we experience other peoples pain and joy and triumphs and follies. Art is the only world in which feelings can’t really be enslaved, or forbidden, or suppressed. Because somebody will pick up a pen, or musical instrument, or a camera and use it to share their story, their humor, their outrage, their response to beauty or to pain.