Since 1979, the Gothenburg Film Festival has been one of Sweden’s biggest film events, and arguably the most important annual meeting place in the Nordic film industry. Every year, the festival takes place over 10 days, screens hundreds of films and welcomes over 100,000 visitors. But as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt the movie industry, not to mention international travel, the biggest movie-TV event in Scandinavia has announced a major change for 2021.
This year, the festival plans to stage one of the most dramatic experiments in recent memory and is taking social distancing to a whole new level by inviting one cinema fan to spend seven days on an isolated island, where they will watch the festival’s 60 premieres over the span of a week.
The festival’s website describes the opportunity as a way to discover what “film means to us when we are isolated from everything else.” To promote the event, Göteborg even released a clever trailer for what it calls ‘The Isolated Cinema’ experience on the North Sea rock.
The global interest for spending 7 days alone with films on a remote island is HUGE! In less than 48h, we received 2500 applications from all over the world! https://t.co/EIA2SKfhIv@latelateshow @JimmyKimmelLive @colbertlateshow @FallonTonight @ConanOBrien @LastWeekTonight— Göteborg Film Festival (@gbgfilmfestival) January 6, 2021
The chosen fan will be transported by boat to the Swedish island of Pater Noster — which Göteborg Film Festival artistic director Jonas Holmberg calls “one of the most beautiful and dramatic places I know.” Once there, they’ll be set up in the former lighthouse keeper’s house and spend a week from January 30 to February 6 spending their time watching movies. The participant will also be expected to film a video diary to talk about their stay, which people can follow.
“The Isolated Cinema on the island of Pater Noster is inaccessibly located at the very edge of the archipelago in one of Sweden’s most barren, windswept locations,” the website reads. “One solitary film enthusiast will experience total isolation from the outside world. No phone, no family, no friends. Just you, the sea and the festival’s film programme with 60 film premieres. For seven days.”
The Isolated Cinema marks the latest in a series of experiments— the Göteborg Film Festival once organized a showcase of religion-themed films in a church, mosque and synagogue, and even invited male fest goers to watch a film from a gynecologist’s chair. While this option is the most extreme, the festival is also offering isolated film screenings at the Scandinavium arena and the Draken Cinema. Though multiple films will be shown at each location, only one person will be able to attend each screening.
“The 2021 festival focus, Social Distances, examines the new world that has emerged in the wake of the pandemic, and the role of film in this new world,” Jonas Holmberg, the festival’s artistic director, said in a statement. “The creation of isolated film experiences for single-person audiences at iconic sites is a way of ensuring entirely safe festival screenings, but it is also an attempt to process how the pandemic has changed people’s relationships with film.”
“On Pater Noster it’s all about the total isolation experienced by so many people the world over this past year,” Holmberg added. “The sensation of being utterly alone … ties in with the altered relationship people now have to all those places that normally buzz with activity but are now deserted.”
According to the website, the festival will choose the person for “Isolated Cinema” by Jan. 19. People interested can apply on the website through January 17. Entries from all over the world are accepted.
The Göteborg Festival runs from Jan. 29 through Feb 8. Its program is to announced on Jan. 12.