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Five films, chosen by Helsinki International Film Festival and The National Audiovisual Institute compete for the festival’s annual Audience Award. The winner will be screened as Film of the Month in Orion Cinema in November.

Romanian director Radu Jude was awarded the Silver Bear for Best Director at Berlin International Film Festival for his black and white western AFERIM! set in the 19th century Romania. The film follows the journey a sheriff and his apprentice who are looking for an escaped Roma slave from the countryside. The film unveils the roots of racism and other prejudices of Eastern Europe. The elements of black comedy emphasise but also bring relief to the dark subject.

THE CLUB is the Chilean director Pablo Larraín‘s intimate drama about a community of Catholic priests serving a unique form of spiritual punishment in a remote house in a small Chilean beach town of La Boca. The priests’ dark secrets are threatened by an unwelcome guest who begins recounting in detail the sexual abuses that he has been victim of. This provokes a shocking scene that is only the beginning for the tormenting and sharp film that won the Jury Grand Prix in Berlin.

In IXCANUL Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante tells a beautiful and strongly symbolic story of protecting life in a clash of two cultures. The young Maya woman Maria lives at the feet of a volcano and dreams of the city lights of the world existing on the other side of the mountain. When the two worlds finally meet, it won’t be easy, and the film takes a strong stand for the rights of the indigenous peoples.

Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov‘s THE LESSON depicts the spiral of poverty in small-town Bulgaria. The tragedy and randomness of life test the integrity of the English teacher Nadezhda. When the desperate teacher tries by all means to avoid the looming financial ruin, she is pulled into a debt that reveals the true nature of other people. Eventually Nadezhda will have to ask herself if she is any better than the others. The Lesson is one of the three contenders for the European Parliament’s Lux Film Prize 2015.

Icelandic Baldvin Zophoníasson‘s film LIFE IN A FISHBOWL follows the lives of three persons that don’t seem to have anything in common. The stories of a mother living in poverty, an alcoholic writer and a former football star are intertwined by coincidence, and the differences between the characters narrow as more about them is revealed. In the end each one of them will have to make hard choices to find salvation.

The audience can vote for Orion’s Film of the Month 17-27 September on the website of the National Audiovisual Institute (KAVI). The winner will be announced on September 27 and screened five times in Orion: 6.11, 10.11, 22.11, 24.11. & 28.11. The Film of the Month series introduces new international films that would otherwise get less attention in Finnish cinemas. Last year’s Audience Award winner IDA went on to become a Finnish audience favorite in a wider release.