From Ingmar Bergman to Lars von Trier, Scandinavia has had a massive impact on contemporary cinema.

This diverse region, encompassing Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark, is widely recognised for its social equality and high living standards. But its recent cinema tells another story. Dark, gritty films (Antichrist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Hunt) and grim TV shows (The Killing, Wallander) have given us a very different window into Scandinavian society.

This year’s Scandinavian Film Festival at Palace Cinemas reminds us that other stories are still being told. Playful comedies, emotional dramas and full-throttle action films all feature. And those darker shades of cinema are there too.

More than 20 films are being screened. To help you immerse yourself in these new tales from northern European lands, we’ve picked a few standouts.

The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
Opening night at the festival sees the screening of this delightfully funny film based on the international best-selling novel by Jonas Jonasson. It follows the unlikely story of Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson), a 100-year-old man with a colourful past, who acquires a suitcase full of cash and is pursued by a gang of criminals, including cockney wise-guy Pim (Alan Ford).

Easy Money (I, II and III)
This cult crime-drama trilogy, starring Joel Kinnaman as JW, will screen in full. The story begins with the 2010 original, with JW ditching a promising business career to pursue a life in organised crime. He returns in Easy Money: Hard to Kill (2012), struggling to get back on track as he deals with life in and after prison. In Easy Money: Life Deluxe, JW again finds himself entangled in crime. Determined to discover what happened to his missing sister, Camilla, he ends up at loggerheads with the Swedish mafia.

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Set in rugged, windswept rural Iceland, Ragnar Bragason’s Metalhead tracks the life of rebellious outcast Hera (Thorbjörg Helga Thorgilsdóttir). Born on a cow shed floor, Hera’s youth is carefree until the tragic death of her beloved older brother. Lost in grief, she finds solace in heavy metal music but continues to dream of escaping her rural life.

The Keeper of Lost Causes
Directed by Mikkel Nørgaard, this thrilling crime mystery follows police inspector Carl Mørck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his assistant Assad (Fares Fares) as they investigate the five-year-old cold case of missing politician Merete Lynggaard. The mystery of the case takes them into the dark Scandinavian underworld. From the scriptwriter of the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

The festival runs at Palace Cinemas across Sydney from July 9–27 and from July 10–27 in Melbourne from . Head to for the full programme, tickets and more.