Music for Weddings and Funerals

Director: Unni Straume
Screenwriters: Unni Straume

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


In a rapidly changing Europe, borders no longer keep "the other" out. As southerners penetrate pristinely homogenous Nordic countries, the severity and stoicism that typify these cultures begin to crack. In the highly accomplished Music for Weddings and Funerals, celebrated Norwegian director Unni Straume skillfully explores this phenomenon through vivid characters and a rich story full of unexpected turns.

Sarah, a famous writer, is coming out of isolation after years of mourning the death of her young son. Her immaculate home, a shining pinnacle of Scandinavian modernist aesthetics, has begun to feel cold and austere. To disrupt the solemnity, she rents the basement to Bogdan, a Serbian musician who invites in his noisy Balkan band to rehearse. Meanwhile, when Sarah's ex-husband's second wife and mistress also descend on the sterile residence, a delicious chaos and vitality flood in. Virtuosic photography by Harald Paalgard captures the house's stark beauty and minimalist lines, while Goran Bregovic's glorious score straddles southern and northern European sensibilities.

Both comic and reflective, Music for Weddings and Funerals is an elegant allegory for a Norway on the brink of change. It is also a meditation on grieving and the movement toward life as Sarah opens the door to passion, disorder, and an unconventional sense of family.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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