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The Cannes Competition...on the dancefloor

Rotterdam's winners from 2018

by Wendy Mitchell


We could christen it the Viking d’Or -- the hottest competition in Cannes outside of, ya know, the films. On Monday night the annual Nordic beach party (invite only) will be the place in Cannes to get your groove on as they host the annual competition of film festival teams competing on the DJ decks.


The Nordic party, hosted by Haugesund’s New Nordic Films market and Goteborg’s Nordic Film market, with support from Nordic Film Commissions, asks each festival team to select three tracks to see which group wins over the dancefloor. The winning team each year judges the following year. So last year’s winners from Rotterdam will judge this year.


This year will feature DJ teams from Karlovy Vary, Tokyo, Les Arcs/Tribeca, Sarajevo, Cannes Marché du Film, Scandinavian Terrace/New Europe Film Sales, Berlinale, Istanbul and hopefully Cannes Critics’ Week for the first time.


Cia Edstrom from Goteborg explains the competition was created more than a decade ago because “it brings people together. The competitors have a lot fun and so do all the guests dancing.” One year, the dancing was so feverish that it continued even after sea water flooded the dancefloor.


Some of her own personal favourite songs to hear might include New Order’s "Blue Monday"; Blondie’s "Heart of Glass"; and Madonna’s "Ray of Light".

Gyda Myklebust from Haugesund knows that by Monday night, people are tired of schmoozing and small talking. “We love to make a fun party with no more talking, only dancing and joy,” she says. Some of her fave dance songs include Prince’s "Gett Off", Curtis Mayfield’s "Move on Up" or OutKast’s "Hey Ya!".


Frederic Boyer and his team from Les Arcs won the competition in 2017 so they were in the judges' hotseat in 2018.


This year they are back choosing their own tunes. Boyer has some guidelines to suggest. “I think the two first tunes have to be personal -- even very personal or unknown – the Rotterdam team is the best at this. The third one has to be a hit, a revival hit or a surprise hit ("All Night Long" by Lionel Richie was a huge success few years ago.”

But the choice can’t be tooooo obvious – Boyer has a personal ban on playing “Kiss” by Prince, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash, "Lust for Life" by Iggy Pop or anything by Daft Punk. For the record, the Les Arcs winning songs in 2017 were Justice’s "Genesis" (as heard in The Square), Mark Ronson’s "Uptown Funk" and Pulp’s "Common People."


When Les Arcs was judging last year, Rotterdam was pushed to the top spot in part because their team was “dancing behind the speakers and knowing all the lyrics by heart.”


Rotterdam’s winning trio was Chemical Brothers’ "Hey Boy ,Hey Girl"; The Killers’ "Somebody Told Me", and Anasthasia's "T99".


Mykleburst’s advice is to “pick at least one original song that people love, but have forgotten they love.”


Chris Schouten, head of the programme department at IFFR by day and soon-to-be-judge by night, has this advice for this year’s teams: “A: Although you want everyone to dance to your songs: you have to stay true to yourself and take some risk. And B: Listen to every song to place them in the right order, very important.”

In addition to the competition, you can also hear from resident DJ for the evening, Christoffer Berg, who composed Border’s soundtrack. Swedish dancehall group Blackout Family will also perform.


Meanwhile, the winners always come away with a Norwegian Viking hat or a Swedish flower wreath, as well as bragging rights for a whole year…

Note to competitors: if nobody plays Lizzo’s "Juice" I’m staging a walkout...or should that be a sitdown?


crowds on the dancefloor in 2018


Cia Edstrom and Frederic Boyer

Wendy Mitchell is a film and entertainment journalist, film festival consultant, and panel and Q&A moderator.