2019-04-24 08:52Press release

Swedish documentary Scheme Birds to compete at Tribeca Film Festival

Scheme Birds. Photo by Ellinor HallinScheme Birds. Photo by Ellinor Hallin

Swedish documentary Scheme Birds, directed by Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin, has been selected to compete at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, which starts today.

Scheme Birds is set in a poor part of Scotland, plagued by violence, unemployment and criminal gangs. The film follows Gemma, a teenage girl and so-called ‘scheme bird’ known by the local police for often getting into trouble. Behind her tough appearance, Gemma has a close relationship to her grandfather Joseph, who has rejected a life of violence and instead spends his time raising pigeons. Gemma, however, finds it hard to abandon her gang. She falls in love with jailbird Pat and soon finds herself pregnant, risking living a life of crime and hopelessness. Scheme Birds will have its world premier in the Documentary Competition section at Tribeca.

– This is so incredibly fun, massive, and such an honour!, Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin declare. The fact that Scheme Birds is competing at Tribeca, a festival with only a few yet very high-quality documentaries, is huge. As directors, we hope that by premiering our debut film at Tribeca, we will establish our filmmaking style and make contacts interested in our breed of storytelling. We hope to continue developing our style and making the same sorts of films in the future, they continue.

– Right from the start, we set out to reach as many people with our film as possible and ensure international exposure – which boiled down to securing a great deal of non-Swedish funding. Presenting the film to a North American audience feels fantastic. Gemma and the others in the film are never granted the opportunity to tell their story to anyone outside of the scheme. Finally the entire world can experience their tale, the directors conclude.

Ellen Fiske is a director and scriptwriter, a graduate in documentary filmmaking at the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts. She has both directed and produced a handful of short films, most recently Lone Dads (2016), which follows three single fathers in Scotland, a setting she has returned to on a number of occasions.

Ellinor Hallin is a cinematographer and director. Earlier this year, she was nominated for a Swedish Guldbagge Award for Best Cinematography for her work on Anders Hazelius’ psychological thriller Wasted (2018). Hallin is also the director of photography on Lukas Moodysson’s upcoming television series Gösta for HBO Nordic.

Fiske and Hallin are currently working on documentary Josefin & Florin, which is due for Swedish cinematic release this autumn. 

Scheme Birds is a Swedish-Scottish co-production, with Mario Adamson as Swedish producer for Sisyfos Film, and Ruth Reid as co-producer for Scottish Gid Films Ltd. 

The Tribeca Film Festival runs between the 24th of April and the 5th of May.

About The Swedish Film Institute

The Swedish Film Institute is a collective voice for film in Sweden, and a meeting-place for experiences and insights that elevate film on all levels. We preserve and make available Sweden’s film heritage, work to educate children and young people in film and moving images, support the production, distribution and screening of valuable film, and represent Swedish film internationally. A broad diversity of narratives establishes discussions and insights that strengthen the individual and our democracy. Together, we enable more people to create, experience and be enriched by film.


Jan Göransson
Head of Press
Jan Göransson
Per Perstrand
Communications Officer – Press
Per Perstrand