TIFF 2021 Highlights

The 31st Tromsø International Film Festival was a celebration of the film, watched either at home or outside under the Northern Lights.

Photo: Mats Gangvik

The plan for TIFF 2021 was to put on a hybrid festival, with theatre screenings in combination with an online program. But 8 days before the fetsival, with the new national restrictions that came early January, the physical part of the festival was downscaled, leaving the Winter Cinema at Tromsø’s main square as the only physical festival venue. The online program was expanded from the planned 30 films to 57 feature films and short film programs.

Theatre sceenings or not, the TIFF audience was ready to watch movies! More than 14.000 tickets was sold to online screenings in the TIFF Digital program. And, despite temperatures dropping below 6° Celcius 2225 people flocked to the Winter Cinema to see films under the northern lights during the festival week.

Yngvild Sve Flikke, cast and crew from NINJABABY in Tromsø. Photo: Sebastian Wilches

HAN på utekinoen
World premiere of HIM at the Winter Cinema. Photo: Jøran Lynum
GRITT had its world premiere at TIFF Digital. Photo: MERFilm

Three Norwegian World Premieres

Three films from Norwegian directors, one sophomore and two feature debutants had their world premiere at the Tromsø International Film Festival 2021.

Ninjababy, directed by Yngvild Sve Flikke premiered on Monday Jan 18 as the festival’s official opening film. The film had parallell premiere screenings on TIFF’s digital platform and at the Winter Cinema, located at Tromsø’s main square with the director, cast and crew present.

Director Itonje Søjmer Guttormsen’s feature debut Gritt had its world premiere on TIFF’s digital platform Tuesday January 19. The third Norwegian film premiering at TIFF was HIM by feature debutant Guro Bruusgaard, with parallell screenings online and at the Winter Cinema, with the director present Wendesday January 20.

– We are really happy that we could offer three world premieres of new Norwegian films of such high quality. All three directed by women, all three combining wit and seriousness and each of them asking existential questions about modern Norwegian society, says TIFF’s Festival and Program Director Lisa Hoen.

The documentary Jeanne D’Arc of the North by director Fredrik Horn Akselsen also had its word premiere on the TIFF Digital platform. The film was part of the Films from the North Feature sidebar.

International premieres

TIFF 2021 also featured three international feature premieres: Scarecrow and There Is No God But Me, both by Russian director Dmitry Davydov and Goodbye Soviet Union by Estonian director Lauri Randla.

– Considering the circumstances, with the current Covid restrictions we really feel that we still had a proper festival, with actual world premieres and combining online screenings with outdoor screenings at our Winter Cinema, says Festival and Program Director Lisa Hoen.

SCARECROW by Dmitry Davidov had its international premiere at TIFF.
Goodbye Soviet Union
GOODBYE SOVIET UNION by Estonian director Lauri Randla had its international premiere at TIFF.

Films from the North

Films from the North, the festival’s largest sidebar with documentaries and feature films from the circum polar area, included 36 films, all of which was presented in the TIFF Digital platform. This year’s program featured films from northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada, Denmark/Greenland and Iceland. 20 of the films had their world premiere at TIFF, while 15 had their Norwegian premiere at the festival.

JeanneD'Arc of the North CROP
JEANNE D'ARC OF THE NORTH by director Fredrik Horn Akselsen had its world premiere at TIFF.
EPA by Swedish directors Jakob Arevärn and Fredrik Oskarsson won the Tromsø Palm Award.


Saturday night, the official award ceremony took place at TIFF’s own cinema Verdensteatret (The World Theatre) and was broadcasted online. The documentary The Truffle Hunters by directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw received both the festival’s main award, The Aurora Prize and the FIPRESCI intentational critics’ award.

The Russian film Scarecrow by Dmitry Davydov won the Faith in Film Award, while the Norwegian Peace Film Award was given to There Is No Evil by Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof. The Tromsø Palm, awarded to the best film in the short/doc sidebar Films from the North, with films from the Barents region went to EPA by Swedish directors Jakob Arevärn and Fredrik Oskarsson.

The Tromsø Audience Award went to the official opening film, Ninjababy by Norwegian director Yngvild Sve Flikke.

Closing ceremony
THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS won the Aurora Prize and the FIPRESCI Award at TIFF 2021. Directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw received the awards online. Photo: Jamie M. Bivard

Online industry events

Apart from screening films, the Tromsø International Film Festival feature many off screen events for the film industry as well as the audience. With his year’s festival going all-digital, the off screen program was presented on screen and renamed «Off Screen Digital» presenting live online broadcasts on the festival’s website and on Facebook live.

TIFF’s film politial opening conference on Monday is an important event for the Norwegian industry and kicked off the Off Screen Digital program on the festival’s opening day. Other highlights in the program was Film Talks with directors in collaboration with film website Montages, online Q&A’s with directors and cast from the Norwegian films who had their world premiere at TIFF. The North Pitch financing forum for documentary films focusing on the polar region was also done as an online event.

We welcome you back to the 32nd Tromsø International Film Festival, 17-23 January 2022.