This year Helsinki International Film Festival showcasts a wide selection of films featuring music – raging rock stars, rapping street children, cheating students and an Elvis imitator in distress, among others. The festival also screens two of the most talked-about music-themed documentaries this year, giving fans of The National and The Stone Roses a real treat.
THE STONE ROSES: MADE OF STONE
This documentary about The Stone Roses provides an outline of the band’s history as well as amazing concert images. The film has left both critics and audiences awestruck and is definitely mandatory watching for all fans of the Madchester movement. Be warned: the music in this film may cause audiences to feel like they are in a rock concert – and maybe behave like that as well.
MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS
In Mistaken for Strangers, director Tom Berninger sets out to follow indie rock sensation The National on tour for six months, working on their road team and trying to make a documentary about the band at the same time. The director being the little brother of singer Matt Berninger, the documentary ends up saying perhaps more about brotherly rivalry and finding one’s own place in the shadow of a famous family member than it says about the National. This hilarious flick is a good warm-up for fans of the National who are planning to see the band perform in Helsinki in October.
BEWARE OF MR. BAKER
Who is afraid of Mr. Baker? Perhaps director Jay Bulker, who directed a documentary about legendary drummer Ginger Baker. Mr. Baker became famous as the hell-raising drummer of Eric Clapton’s bands Cream and Blind Fate. His ferocious temper doesn’t seem to have become any milder with age – at 73 the drummer still has the energy to hit the director with his walking stick. Those who are unfamiliar with Baker may have the urge to roam the Internet in search of proof that this man of mythological proportions is not a work of fiction. Rest assured, he is real.
THE SUICIDE SHOP
A hilarious 3D musical animation about a city where everyone is so unhappy that all they want to do is die. The most successful family business specializes in poison, rope and other tools that come in handy when planning a suicide. The thriving business is suddenly threatened when a baby who is happy as a clam is born into the family.
THE GREAT HIP HOP HOAX
The Great Hip Hop Hoax is a humorous documentary about Californian hip hop duo Silibil n’ Brains, who wants to succeed at any price. There is only one problem: the boys are actually Scottish, and both their identities and their accents are fake. The film is an incredible tale about truth, lies and faking.
THE LAST ELVIS
Elvis is alive and feeling bad in Argentina in this fictional film about the power of music. In daytime “Elvis” Gutiérrez is an ordinary factory worker, but at night he is reborn as Elvis, performing at dark clubs as an Elvis imitator. Gutiérrez is more motivated by the prospect of touring than taking care of his daughte until fate steps into the picture. John McInerny, who is an Elvis imitator himself, plays the main character.
HARRY DEAN STANTON: PARTLY FICTION
The star of this documentary is legendary actor Harry Dean Stanton, who has starred in films by directors Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, David Lynch and many more. Stanton is also touring actively as a folk singer, but his songs have never been recorded, so the gigs featured in the film are rather exclusive.
Kinshasa Kids is a fictional film with a documentary feel about street kids in Kinshasa, Congo, who form a rap band. The film is an energetic story about dreams, perseverance, and survival. The child actors are former street kids themselves. One of them, Rachel Mwanza, who is the only girl, later came to play the leading role in War Witch, for which she won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale in 2012.
YEH JAWAANI HAI DEEWANI
This Indian romantic comedy is sure to make Bollywood lovers of all ages feel like dancing. Naima is a nerdie young woman whose former class mate teaches her how to have fun. Ranbir Kapoor, who is one of the most popular actors India at the moment, plays the leading male character. Kapoor can be seen in another Love & Anarchy film at the festival Barfi, which is also an Indian romantic comedy.