From Norway to South London for a film festival first

James Perrett meets Paola Melli, director of the South Social Film Festival, to talk about its latest success and what it will offer South Londoners in the coming months


Ingar Gimle in Going West
Ingar Gimle in Going West

South London will host both a top Norwegian director and the lead of his latest film in a first for the South Social Film Festival.

Festival director Paola Melli is urging local people to see the film that is”full of humour” and quips.

The latest SSFF offering is a Norwegian-themed immersive event at Theatre Peckham in Camberwell on Saturday 21 April as part of its South Social Meets the World series.

The night promises to be a Scandi-smash with drinks, an authentic smörgåsbord from Scandikitchen, live music from Norwegian singer-songwriter EERA and a special preview of indie comedy drama Going West, from Norwegian director Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken.

Created in 2015, South Social Film Festival is a not-for-profit showcase for cultural diversity that brings together independent cinema, music, food, art and dance from a different country each month in one immersive experience, celebrating the diversity of the city and the South London community in particular.

“Because we’re only showing one film per night and it’s a special event, I have to find the film that is not only interesting and intriguing but uplifting,” says artistic director Paola Melli.

“I try to find a film that’s maybe a drama, with some kind of positive outcome.

“I always try to get the director to come, or the lead, so there’s always a Q&A and it’s pretty interactive: people come in, have some food and drinks, mingle, socialise, then they get in and listen to the music and sometimes they dance.

“It’s usually a very immersive experience.”

Both Henrik Dahlsbakken and the lead actor Ingar Gimle will be coming from Oslo for the event and having both director and actor is a first for the film festival.

“It’s pretty fantastic, it’s the first time I’ve got both of them,” says Melli.

“Sometimes it’s one or the other, never both of them together.” Dahlsbakken is a very busy man,” she says. “He’s only 27, but he’s made three feature long films and he’s actually post-production on the other three – so it’s very, very hectic for him at the moment.”

Going Westis a dramedy about a son taking his estranged transgender father across to the west coast of Norway on a road trip, telling a story of life, loss and love.

Dahlsbakken has won multiple awards in the last two years and is already shortlisted as the Norwegian Oscar candidate for best foreign film.

Going West is more about family identities and relationships than anything else,” says Melli. “I would really suggest this for a family with children.

“It’s a bit quirky, Norwegians are intriguing people; they have their own humour.

“The film is full of humour and quips, you have to watch it to appreciate it.”


Next … Congo and Japan

Next in the pipeline for South Social is an African-themed event with a screening of the film Félicité, set in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After that, the festival will bring Japan to London in September.

The festival has a loyal following, but Melli wants new people to join an already great audience.

“We’re making this for the public, for the audience,” she says.

“It’s open to everybody and it’s really fun; everybody who comes also comes back because they love what they’ve seen.”

South Social Meets Norway is at Theatre Peckham on 21 April doors open at 6pm.

Buy tickets here


  1. Thanks a lot James! It was a pleasure talking to you. Hope you can make it to the festival. Looking forward meeting you.

Comments are closed.