Dalarna University is competing at Venice Film Festival

On August 31, the 79th Venice Film Festival will get underway, and one of this year’s contenders is Dalarna's Audiovisual Academy (DAVA), Dalarna University. Involved in the creation of this year’s only entry from Sweden are a Dalarna University researcher and student.
Movie poster for Sorella's Story
Soul Vision Films

It is the film Sorella's Story that has been nominated in the section Venice Immersive. Set in 1941 in the Latvian city of Liepaja, the film dramatises the events surrounding the Liepaja massacres, where up to 3 000 Latvian Jews were executed, most of them women and children. Seen through a VR headset to achieve an emotional depth to the story, the viewer follows 10-year-old Sorella Epstein through a wintry landscape.

Sorella's Story is one of three films that form a large-scale project entitled To Never Forget, which has slowly developed over the past three years as a result of close collaboration with researchers and students at Griffith University in Australia and Dalarna University. The project addresses various aspects of the Holocaust and serves as a reminder of how prejudice can escalate into human tragedy.

Axel Grigor, artistic lecturer and director of the Film and TV Production Programme at Dalarna University, is the project's Swedish co-producer and artistic advisor.

Congratulations, Axel! Can you tell us about the collaboration and your role in the production?

– The film's director, Dr Peter Hegedus of Griffith Film School, invited me to be narrative and artistic advisor in 2019. Despite great geographical distance, new film technology and the pandemic, we were able to work really well with Brisbane. The team worked hard to bring to life and preserve the memory of what happened in Latvia in 1941. The fact that we have now received this invitation to attend the festival in Venice, which is considered the world's foremost festival for new and innovative film experiences, bodes very well for our ambition to reach out to a larger audience and initiate a dialogue around the story.

Mikael Rosén, a former student in the Film and TV Production Programme at Dalarna University, had the role of cinematographer during the production in Hungary in 2019.

Congratulations, Mikael! What was it like to be cinematographer in this production?

– To have been offered the opportunity to document behind the scenes, to film promotional material and work together with such a great team was incredible. On location, I filmed some of the plot and also had interesting discussions with others involved in making the film who spoke Hungarian, which I only know a few words of. It all worked out well thanks to such a successful team! One wish would be to do something else together in the future.

What are you currently working on? 

– Currently, I’m a freelance producer and photographer on commissioned films. The goal right now is to become established in the feature film industry.

The award ceremony at the Venice Film Festival will take place on September 10.

Read more about the film project: Dalarna University Part of an International Film Project on the Liepaja Massacres - Dalarna University (du.se).

Trailer for the film: Sorella’s Story.

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