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The 31st HIFF Opening Gala Film is COLD WAR by the Polish auteur Pawel Pawlikowski. It is followed by the Finnish Gala Film STUPID YOUNG HEART by Selma Vilhunen and Ali Abbasi’s Love & Anarchy Gala Film BORDER. The festival closes with Russian Kirill Serebrennikov’s epic Soviet rock movie SUMMER. 

The 31stHelsinki International Film Festival launches off on September 20 with the Opening Night Gala screening of the Cannes Film Festival’s Best Director winner COLD WAR (Zimna wojna). Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski’s (Ida, L&A 2014) breathtakingly beautiful film tells the story of star-crossed lovers Zula (Joanna Kulig) and Wictor (Tomasz Kot) who travel around the Cold War era Europe in search of freedom and love.

Kirill Serebrennikov’srock epic SUMMER (Leto) ends the festival on a high note. The nostalgic and energetic romance evokes the birth of Soviet rock in 1980s Leningrad, but also serves as a love letter for the freedom of artistic expression. It is apt for a director who’s been arrested and held in his home in St. Petersburg since August 2017. Helsinki International Film Festival hopes to welcome Mr. Serebrennikov to the festival as an honorary guest in September.

The Finnish Gala Film is the eagerly awaited STUPID YOUNG HEART from the Academy Award nominated director Selma Vilhunen. The film will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September before traveling to the silver screens of Helsinki. It is an energetic love story about two 15-year-olds navigating pregnancy, teenage confusion and extreme right ideas encroaching in their multicultural neighbourhood.

The Love & Anarchy Gala Film is Ali Abbasi’s Swedish fantasy drama BORDER (Gräns), which won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard competition in Cannes. “Destined to be a cult classic”, according to Variety, the movie follows Tina (Eva Melander), a customs officer, who catches smugglers using her extraordinary sense of smell. Secrets are revealed when she meets a stranger (Eero Milonoff) with similar abilities.

Movies to make your autumn hot!

The 31stedition of HIFF brings a mind-bending array of this year’s hottest films to Helsinki. The sneak peeks of the festival include Aleksi Salmenperä’sviciously funny black comedy VOID (premiere September 28, B-Plan Distribution) and Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s no-holds-barred adaptation of British junkie-turned-pugilist Billy Moore’s Thai prison memoir A PRAYER BEFORE DAWN (Cinema Mondo).

Other highly anticipated titles in this year’s selection are Boots Riley’s absurd comedy SORRY TO BOTHER YOU and Italian-Canadian Panos Cosmatos’harrowing and hilarious bloodfest MANDY with its lead actor Nicolas Cage at his most flabbergasting best.

The traditional HIFF pre-screenings will take place at Teurastamo on September 7–9. The Teurastamo Pop-Up movies are the neo-noir classic DRIVE (L&A 2011), late Studio Ghibli maestro Isao Takahata’s THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA (L&A 2014) and the Docventures screening of exploration documentary EASTERN MEMORIES, accompanied live by Rasmus Hedlund. The outdoor pre-screenings are free of charge.

The eleven days of festival madness bring 160 feature films and 190 short films to 19 cinema screens in 470 screenings.

The 2018 festival tabloid and the complete festival programme will be published on September 7. Pre-sale of festival passes and catalogues begins on the same day. Single tickets will be available from September 13.

The 31stedition of HIFF takes place between 20 – 30 September.