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The 28th Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy takes over the silver screens of Helsinki on September 17–27. In addition to films, a grand number of international guests will also be arriving at the festival. The festival’s guests include, among others, Oscar winner Luc Jacquet, Studio Ghibli animator and director Hiromasa Yonebayashi and the US indie director Alex Ross Perry. This year, guests will be present at more than 110 screenings.

The new Studio Ghibli anime WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE tells about a lonely and shy girl Anna who finds a new friend in the mysterious Marnie. Based on Joan G. Robinson’s fantasy novel by the same name, When Marnie Was There is the second feature length animation by long-time Ghibli key animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi (Arrietty, 2010). The director Yonebayashi and producer Yoshiaki Nishimura will visit the festival on 24–27 September and 25–27 September respectively.

Oscar winner Luc Jacquet (The March of Penguins, 2005) brings his new documentary film ICE AND THE SKY to Finland. The film tells the story of glaciologist Claude Lorius who discovered the way to interpret earth’s climate history from data gained from drilling the glaciers. Lorius predicted the present climate change and it’s consequences 30 years ago. Director Luc Jacquet visits HIFF on 24–27 September. He will be one of the speakers in the environmental seminar held by Ministry of the Environment on 25 September.

HIFF and The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE will introduce the American indie director Alex Ross Perry for the Finnish audiences. The festival program includes the director’s two latest films LISTEN UP PHILIP and QUEEN OF EARTH. Alex Ross Perry will visit the festival on 21–24 September. Perry will be giving a masterclass about the new rise of American indie cinema.

Another guest with two films is the British director Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio, 2012). THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY is a stylish, sensual and smart erotic film where a couple tests the limits of their relationship. Strickland is also one of the two directors of BJÖRK: BIOPHILIA LIVE concert film. Peter Strickland visits HIFF on 22–24 September.

Top of Iceland and the US indie cinema

The quality and originality of Icelandic cinema is shown in many films bound to become audience favourites also in Helsinki. The skew humour and original characters will be supplemented by the Icelandic filmmakers attending the festival.

RAMS tells about a distant valley where two brothers who haven’t spoken to each other in 40 years will have to get together to save their beloved sheep. The film won the Un Certain Regard Award in Cannes film festival. Director Grímur Hákonarson will attend the festival on 22–23 September. In VIRGIN MOUNTAIN, a 43-year-old man still living with his mother finds his life changed by the appearance of vibrant Alma. The film’s main actor Gunnar Jónsson will visit the festival (dates TBA).

LIFE IN A FISHBOWL tells about three very different Reykjavikian people whose lives are intertwined unexpectedly. Director Baldvin Zophoníasson visits HIFF on 17–20 September. In PARIS OF THE NORTH the day by day life of a small town consists of a three-person AA movement and the web course of Portuguese, until the town gets an uninvited guest. Director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson and actress Nanna Kristín Magnúsdóttir will be invited guests of HIFF on 21–23 and 23–25 September respectively.

Alongside Iceland, the vitality of the US indie cinema can be witnessed in the festival program. Indie from USA section includes anticipated new films such as Rick Famuyiwa’s crime comedy DOPE, the Beach Boys drama film LOVE & MERCY and the piquant genre movie GREEN ROOM in which a punk band has to escape a hostile crowd of Neo-Nazis.

Preview screenings of genre benders and human rights movies

As usual, HIFF’s program includes preview screenings of the year’s most interesting theatrical releases. The opening day’s preview screening is Denis Villeneuve’s SICARIO that is set in the drug war in the Mexico – US border. The film will get its theatrical release on 18 September.

2015 has been a good year for genre cinema. Prestigious film festivals have shown films that explore new directions for old genres. Italian Matteo Garrone’s (Gomorrah, 2008) new film TALE OF TALES combines fantasy film monsters and the narrative of Italian art house cinema. Tale of Tales is released in Finnish theatres on 25 September.

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s THE ASSASSIN renews the Chinese wuxia genre. Hou won the award for Best Director at this year’s Cannes competition. Theatrical release will be on 2 October.

Human rights are another visible theme in the festival’s preview screenings. Davis Guggenheim’sdocumentary film HE NAMED ME MALALA tells the inspiring story of the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s secretly filmed TAXI takes its audience on the streets of Teheran among today’s Iranians. He Named Me Malala will get its theatrical release on 27 November and Taxi on 13 November.

Young Finnish talents introduce themselves

New channels of producing and making movies are reflected in the festival’s Finnish short film and Finnish Indie Films sections. The short film day From Short to Long (25 September) will conclude with the screening of Uneton48 collective’s first feature-length film NIGHT GOES LONG.

The Finnish Indie Films section includes among others award-winning director Mara Jelinko’s (Indebted, 2011) new feature film GUILT and Dave Berg and Elina Reinikka’s ON HAPPINESS.

Young filmmakers are also part of Finnish preview screenings, which include SWING GAME, a documentary on founding a startup game company and THE SALESMEN OF HAPPINESS that takes a critical look on the business of selling happiness.

Experienced filmmakers are not forgotten either. Finnish cinephile Peter von Bagh’s (1943–2014) last film SOCIALISM will at last be screened in Helsinki in a one-off screening.

Photos from films Ice and the Sky, When Marnie Was There and Queen of Silence