Director: Karin af Klintberg, Anders Helgeson - Sweden
There are over 40,000 Somalis living in Sweden as well as over 17,000 born in Sweden with at least one Somali parent. In Borlänge, a town of some 41,000 residents, there are 3,000 Somalis, about seven percent of the population. When asked, many people in the town exhibited xenophobic beliefs when it came to the Somalis. In an effort to help bring together the Somali and Swedish residents of Borlänge, an eccentric businessman, Patrik Andersson, decided to create a Somalian National Bandy Team. Bandy is a sport that is like field hockey on ice and is most popular in Northern European countries, though there are teams from around the world. Nice People is the touching story about how a team was put together in less than a year and participated in the 2014 Bandy World Championship.
In a time where Europe is facing a great refugee crisis, it is wonderful to see an uplifting film about bringing refugees and Europeans together under a common banner: the love of sports. Although the Somalis had never played Bandy or, in fact, ever ice skated before, their enthusiasm for trying something new is infectious. Their business manager Patrik Andersson is indeed eccentric, but his partner is also an immigrant and he has a passion for bringing people together, which includes getting Per Fosshaug, a Bandy legend, to be the coach of the team. There is nothing too deep here. Nice People is just another sports film with its highs and lows, but its arrival is timely considering the worries some people have about integration. It shows that the refugees are just people too and that maybe through the power of sports it might be possible to bring cultures together. Perhaps that is why Nice People won the Commerzbank Audience Award at the festival.