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The festival is drawing nearer and Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy is happy to present this year’s Gala Selection, Spotlight Series and special screenings. This year the festival showcases a record number of films – a grand total of 300 films with 160 feature length movies and an extensive short film series.  

The Opening Film of HIFF 2013 is Cannes Palme d’Or winner Adèle: Chapters 1 & 2 (La Vie d’Adèle: Chapitre 1 & 2). In this intimate and tender film, director Abdellatif Kechiche tells the love story of two young women. The film has won the hearts of critics and audiences around the world praising the director for his groundbreaking cinematic treatment of love and sex.

Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster and Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha in Special Screenings

The HIFF Gala Film this year is The Grandmaster, the highly anticipated new film by director Wong Kar-wai. The film, which spans the five first decades of the 20th Century in China, depicts the life of legendary kung fu master Ip Man, portrayed by Tony Leung. The Grandmaster is a beautiful ballad of unfulfilled love, featuring striking martial arts choreographies and a heart-wrenching soundtrack by Shigeru Umebayashi. The auteur director’s worldwide audience has been waiting eagerly for the new release, which went through eight years of preparations and three years of filming.

The festival’s Closing Film is Frances Ha by Greenberg director Noah Baumbach. In this black-and-white drama comedy Greta Gerwig plays a young dancer who tries, at times desperately, to find herself and her place in New York City. Adam Driver from the TV series Girls stars in one of the supporting roles.

Dome Karukoski’s new drama about a neo-nazi is the Finnish Gala Selection

The Finnish Film Gala Selection is Heart of a Lion by Dome Karukoski (Lapland Odyssey, Forbidden Fruit). In this intense drama, neo-nazi Teppo (Peter Franzén) tries to be a good stepfather for the coloured son of the woman he has fallen passionately in love with (Sari, played by Laura Birn). Karukoski treats the rather grim subject of racism with humanism and humour, creating a story of love and hate, loyalty and ideals, where Teppo risks paying a high price for his happiness.

Gus Van Sant and new Nordic drama in the Spotlight Selection 

Other films featured in HIFF’s Spotlight Selection include Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land and Pioneer, a high-octane thriller by Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjærg. Pioneer depicts the boom of Norwegian offshore oil exploration and will get its international premier at Toronto International Film Festival.

Internationally acclaimed Finnish director Pirjo Honkasalo’s (director of award-winning documentary The 3 Rooms of Melancholia) new drama Concrete Night will get its domestic premiere at HIFF. The film, which is based on a novel by author Pirkko Saisio, depicts one tragic night in the life of two brothers in powerful black-and-white images. Concrete Night does not adhere to film conventions or the viewers’ expectations, but makes for a highly rewarding film experience.

Conflicts from all around the world

Perhaps it’s a sign of the state of the world, but conflict is a recurring theme in many HIFF films this year. Joshua Oppenheimer’s chilling documentary The Act of Killing follows members of Indonesia’s former death squads who try to explain the atrocities they have committed by making their own fiction film about the events. Paradise Now director Hany Abu-Assad also features a conflict in his new drama Omar, which won the Special Jury Prize Un Certain Regard in Cannes. The film draws a nuanced picture of the Middle East through the story of three youngsters planning an attack on an Israeli soldier. Srdan Golubović shows the far-reaching consequences of acts committed during the Bosnian war in the intense drama Circles.

The popular Culinary Screenings are back

Foodies are up for a treat when the culinary series Haute Cuisine serves up a yummy selection of culinary films. Red Obsession by documentary filmmakers Warwick Ross and David Roach shows what happened when Chinese nouveau riche wine enthusiasts started dictating the prices of legendary Bordeaux wines. The visually stunning documentary Mussels in Love follows mussels from the sea all the way to the kitchen. The special culinary screenings culminate in Restaurant Sunn, which offers unique dinner experiences inspired by the themes in the films.

Images from films Adèle: Chapters 1 & 2, Heart of a Lion, Promised Land, Frances Ha, The Act of Killing, Mussels in Love, Concrete Night and The Grandmaster.