The 27th Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy takes over screens in Helsinki on September 18–28. In addition to films, a grand number of international guests will also be arriving at the festival. The festival’s guests include, among others, actors from the Love & Anarchy Gala Film The Dance of Reality and Ken Loach’s Jimmy’s Hall. This year, guests will be present at more than a hundred screenings. Central themes at the festival include political and Nordic films.
Ken Loach’s JIMMY’S HALL, which competed for the Palme d’Or in Cannes, is a drama based on a true story about Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward), who built a community dance hall in his local community in Ireland. The safe haven is not warmly welcomed by all, especially not certain politicians and the Catholic Church. Andrew Scott, who plays a progressive priest, visits HIFF 19–21 September. Scott is known for, among other things, his role as Jim Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock series.
THE DANCE OF REALITY is the first film in 23 years for cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky. Brontis Jodorowsky, who plays his own grandfather in the film, visits HIFF 24–27 September. In his autobiographical film, Alejandro Jodorowsky revisits the small Chilean village where he was born, stirring up childhood memories with metaphors, mythology and poetry. Finnish theatrical release is 14 November.
In the nostalgic documentary PULP: A FILM ABOUT LIFE, DEATH & SUPERMARKETS, Pulp and their front man Jarvis Cocker return to their hometown Sheffield to give their last concert as a band. Florian Habicht’s look behind the scenes at the concert is also a tribute to Pulp fans, who get to share their life stories and their memories of the band. Director Habicht, producer Alex Boden and Pulp drummer Nick Banks will be present at the opening day screening. Banks will also throw a rare DJ gig at the festival’s opening club at LeBonk.
Krista Kosonen makes her American debut with BIG SIGNIFICANT THINGS. Harry Lloyd, who is perhaps best known for his role in Game of Thrones, plays a young man working in advertisement who leaves on a secret road trip without his girlfriend knowing. On the road he meets a shy Finnish girl played by Kosonen. Director Bryan Reisberg will visit the festival 19–21 September to present his film and speak about how Kosonen ended up starring in his film.
The festival takes on hot political themes
Different political crises that have shaken the world are present both in HIFF’s documentaries and fiction films. Joshua Oppenheimer, whose The Act of Killing was a huge success among both the press and the audience last year at HIFF, returns to the festival with THE LOOK OF SILENCE. In his strong new documentary, Oppenheimer continues to investigate the 1960 massacres in Indonesia, this time around talking to victims and their loved ones instead of perpetrators. The film premiered at Venice Film Festival at the end of August to rave reviews. Oppenheimer’s colleague, editor Niels Pagh Andersen, visits HIFF in September. In his masterclass It takes two to tango, Andersen speaks about the role of the editor, drawing on experiences from a career spanning 30 years, speaking about working with both Oppenheimer and Finnish director Pirjo Honkasalo.
The exquisitely filmed documentary DAMNATION shows how attitudes towards dams and hydropower have changed in the US: instead of building new dams, old dams are being torn downat an accelerating pace. Matt Stoecker,who is one of the producers of DamNation,will arrive at HIFF September 23. Stocker will also take part in a seminar led by Finland’s Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto and actor and fishing activist Jasper Pääkkönen on September 24. The seminar gathers high profile Finnish politicians, researchers, river and fishing activists as well as representatives of hydropower companies to discuss the impact of hydro power construction on water systems and fish populations. Environmental themes are also present in Orlando von Einsiedel’s VIRUNGA. The documentary depicts a group of heroic people who are putting their lives at stake defending the mountain gorillas of the Virunga national park from poachers.
Talal Derki’s RETURN TO HOMS follows soccer star Abdul ”Basset” al-Sarout, who becomes a central figure in the peaceful demonstrations in Syria and eventually decides to take up arms in his struggle against Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian producer of the film, Orwa Nyrabia, visits HIFF 20–23 September. Nyrabia, who founded Syria’s first independent film production and distributing company as well as the country’s international documentary festival, has also been active in the Syrian opposition movement.
Pekka Lehto’s EMERGENCY CALL – A MURDER MYSTERY gives a behind the scenes look into one of the most bizarre unsolved court cases in recent Finnish history. Premiere in Helsinki 3 October.
The most interesting Nordic films in the limelight
Anna Odell, who has caused a stir in Sweden with her politically charged performances, made a smashing debut as a film director, receiving the Fipresci prize for best newcomer at the film festival in Venice last year as well as two Guldbagge-statues for Best Film and Best Screenplay in Sweden. Masks and expectations unravel when old classmates meet up after several years apart. Odell plays herself, while her former classmates are played by actors – the way Odell imagines them being today. Odell visits the festival 18–21 September. Finnish theatrical premiere is 7 November.
OF HORSES AND MEN, which has wowed audiences and critics alike, is an absurd drama set in wild Icelandic surroundings, where horses are sometimes more important than humans. The film is the Icelandic candidate for the Nordic Council Film Prize. Director Benedikt Erlingsson visits HIFF 21–24 September.
Ruben Östlund, who has received multiple awards for his previous films, received a warm response when screening his new film FORCE MAJEURE in the Un Certain Regards series in Cannes. Östlund’s new film is also competing for the Nordic Council Film Prize. Force Majeure depicts the identity crises of a middle-aged Swedish man while on a family holiday in the Alps. An avalanche brings about character traits in the man that both he and his family would rather not have learned existed. Force Majeure is distributed in Finland by Cinema Mondo.
IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE (KRAFTIDIOTEN), which competed for the Golden Bear in Berlin, is a Fargo-like dark crime comedy situated in the middle of Norwegian snowy landscapes. Crooks start disappearing in great numbers, ending up dead in the river, as Citizen of the Year Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgård) decides to avenge the death of his son. In theatres 24 October.
(Picture from The Reunion)