Goteborg Film Festival sends nurse to isolated, island cinema for a week

The frontline worker will watch up to 70 films in a former lighthouse off Sweden's west coast

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A front-line Swedish nurse is getting some Covid-19 downtime with a week of private screenings of the Goteborg Film Festival, in a former lighthouse off the country's west coast.

More than 12,000 candidates from 45 countries applied to watch the festival's films in almost near isolation on an island 400 kilometres from Stockholm.

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It has been hectic, so it's a nice opportunity just to be able to land and to reflect over the year

The prize is a week viewing as many of the festival's 70 premieres as they like in a hotel in the former Pater Noster Lighthouse. But they will be in isolation and will have no access to their own computer or laptop.

The bright-red lighthouse, built on a tiny island off Sweden's west coast in 1868, is surrounded by a scattering of squat, red buildings originally built to house the lighthouse keeper's family. It can only be reached by boat or helicopter, depending on the weather.

After a series of interviews and tests, festival organisers chose emergency nurse and film buff Lisa Enroth for the prize, in keeping with the 2021 festival's theme, Social Distances.

The Pater Noster lighthouse is pictured on the island of Hamneskar off Sweden's west coast, on January 30, 2021, north west of Gothenburg.  The island will be nurse Lisa Enroth's home for a week after she won a competition by Gothenburg Film Festival to enjoy her own isolated cinema, watching films on her own on the island with little contact with the outside world. The lighthouse was built in 1868 to guide ships into the port of Gothenburg and decommissioned in 1977. / AFP / Jonathan NACKSTRAND / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Tom LITTLE

Before boarding a small speedboat out to the island on the clear, chill winter's morning, Enroth said she had applied not only out of her love for the cinema, but also to seek respite from her hectic work as an emergency nurse during the pandemic.

"It has been hectic, so it's a nice opportunity just to be able to land and to reflect over the year," she said.

Months working amid Covid crisis 

Sweden, which has taken a light-touch approach to the pandemic compared to its neighbours, has been facing a stronger than expected second wave of the virus. So far, more than 11,500 people have died from Covid-19 across the country.

Enroth works in the emergency ward of a hospital in Skovde in central Sweden. Since the start of the pandemic, her hospital's work caring for virus patients on top of their regular workload has been intense.

"We had a lot of Covid cases during this year and every patient that has been admitted to the hospital has been passing through the emergency ward," she told journalists.

The organisers said they were surprised by the numbers of applicants for the prize, but were confident they had chosen the right candidate, not only for her love of cinema.

"She has also dedicated this past year in the frontline against the Covid-19 pandemic," the festival's creative director Jonas Holmberg said to AFP.

"That's also one of the reasons we chose her".

Isolated screenings 

Boarding the boat dressed in a thick survival suit, Enroth sped over the calm, icy waters, jumping off in the island's tiny harbour and disappearing into her lodgings.

A screen has been set up in the lantern room at the top of the windswept island's lighthouse, offering a 360-degree view of the sea and coastline around.

Another wide screen has been set up in one of the island's buildings.

A small screen is placed inside the Pater Noster lighthouse on the island of Hamneskar off Sweden's west coast, on January 30, 2021, north west of Gothenburg. The island will be nurse Lisa Enroth's home for a week after she won a competition by Gothenburg Film Festival to enjoy her own isolated cinema, watching films on her own on the island with little contact with the outside world. The lighthouse was built in 1868 to guide ships into the port of Gothenburg and decommissioned in 1977. / AFP / Jonathan NACKSTRAND / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Tom LITTLE

Enroth will also have a tablet and headphones if she wants to watch films elsewhere on the island, which measures just 250 metres by 150 metres.

With only one other person staying permanently on the island, a safety precaution, Enroth's only contact with the outside world will be through her video diary about the films she has viewed.

The festival's films will be shown online and two venues in Gothenburg itself will allow screenings for just one person at a time.

Holmberg, the festival's creative director, said he hoped events such as these would maintain interest in the industry at a time when many screens are closed because of pandemic restrictions.

"We are longing so much to come back to the cinemas and in the meantime we have to be creative and do the things that we can to create discussion," he said.

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