The Locarno Festival has always had a close relationship with the Scandinavian region, showcasing films from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland on a regular basis (this year’s Concorso internazionale features the Danish drama Vinterbrødre – Winter Brothers, starring former Sherlock villain Lars Mikkelsen). Many filmmakers from these countries have gone on to enjoy success in Hollywood, including Tommy Wirkola, who directed the Død snø – Dead Snow films in his native Norway and then pulled off Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. His latest effort, What Happened to Monday?, a science fiction thriller starring Noomi Rapace and Willem Dafoe, is celebrating its world premiere in Piazza Grande before being released worldwide by Netflix later this month. To honor the occasion, here are a few other notable names who have combined a Nordic sensibility with American resources, often with a Locarno connection.Max Borg
The Bergen-born director became known internationally with his third feature film, Hodejegerne –Headhunters (based on the eponymous novel by Jo Nesbø), which premiered in Piazza Grande in 2011. He went on to direct Benedict Cumberbatch in the Oscar-winning biopic The Imitation Game, and made the transition to larger budgets with the sci-fi romance Passengers, starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.
Best known as a screenwriter, Arcel adapted Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy for the screen in Swedish, then returned to his Danish roots with Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Department Q series. The resulting film, Kvinden i buret – The Keeper of Lost Causes, was a Piazza Grande entry in 2013. In between those two endeavors he made his international breakthrough as a director with En kongelig affære – A Royal Affair, which won two awards in Berlin in 2012 and received an Oscar nomination a year later. His first English-language feature, based on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, opens in Swiss cinemas on August 9.
The Icelandic filmmaker qualifies as a genuine Locarno discovery: his 2000 debut 101 Reykjavik, featuring Victoria Abril, screened in the Concorso Internazionale. He returned to the Festival in 2013 with 2 Guns, starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, which was selected as that year’s opening film. His other English-language efforts include Contraband (based on an Icelandic film he starred in as an actor) and Everest.
The Swedish-born director has been a Hollywood mainstay since 1993, when he directed Leonardo DiCaprio to his first Oscar nomination in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?. He’s since made crowd-pleasers like Chocolat and Casanova, with a brief return to his home country in 2012 to make the thriller Hypnotisören – The Hypnotist. His 2014 film The Hundred-Foot Journey, a culinary comedy starring Helen Mirren, screened in Piazza Grande.
Born in Sweden, trained in Denmark, Espinosa shot to fame with his third film, Snabba cash – Easy Money, based on the first installment in Jens Lapidus’ Stockholm Noir trilogy. Two years later, in 2012, he made his Hollywood debut with Safe House, starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, and subsequently directed Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman in Child 44, based on the eponymous bestseller. His most recent feature, the science fiction/horror film Life, premiered in March 2017.
The Danish filmmaker, part of a select group of directors to have won the Palme d’Or twice (his first winning film, Pelle erobreren – Pelle the Conqueror, was shown out of competition in Locarno in 1988), made his English-language debut in 1993 with The House of the Spirits, based on the Isabel Allende novel and starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. He subsequently directed films like Les Misérables, Goodbye Bafana – The Color of Freedom, and Night Train to Lisbon.