/ Press releases

Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy, Finland’s biggest and most diverse film festival, has announced this year’s gala films. The Opening Gala presents Gurinder Chadha’s Sundance surprise hit BLINDED BY THE LIGHT. Zaida Bergroth’s MARIA’S PARADISE will be shown in the Finnish Film Gala while Céline Sciamma’s PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE will be the L&A Gala Film. The first-ever R&A Shorts Gala presents the eagerly awaited ONE-OFF INCIDENT. The festival culminates with Terrence Malick’s new masterpiece A HIDDEN LIFE. Films of the festival’s traditional open-air screenings have also been announced. The 32nd HIFF is held on September 19–29, 2019.

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, the new film by the British director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham, HIFF 2002), opens this year’s edition of HIFF. Sundance festival’s biggest surprise hit takes place in the gloomy late-1980s Luton where Javed, a 16-year-old aspiring writer of Pakistani origin, finds salvation in Bruce Springsteen’s music. An energetic feel-good rock musical, it feels like an uplifting cocktail of one’s favourite tunes. Distributed by SF studios, Blinded by the Light will hit the Finnish cinemas in Autumn 2019.

A HIDDEN LIFE, the long-awaited new film by the legendary director Terrence Malick, closes the festival in an epic mood. A poetic telling of the story of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian WWII conscientious objector, it is a masterful tour de force of cinema and marks the return of its director to the limelight. The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and features an important role by the Swiss actor Bruno Ganz who passed away this spring. SF Studios will bring A Hidden Life to theaters by the end of 2019.

The Finnish Gala presents MARIA’S PARADISE, the new film by director Zaida Bergroth (The Good Son, HIFF 2011, and Miami, HIFF 2017), that comes to HIFF freshly after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Based on real events, the film transports its viewers into the 1920s and to the religious sect led by Maria Åkerblom (Pihla Viitala). The suspenseful film tells of Salome (Satu Tuuli Karhu), a teenager who adores Åkerblom, but comes to question her loyalties when she begins to see the truth behind the sect’s actions. Distributed by Nordisk Film, Maria’s Paradise will reach theaters on October 4.

PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu), the Cannes Best Screenplay winner, will be screened in the Love & Anarchy Gala that celebrates the new currents of cinematic art. Written and directed by the French Céline Sciamma (Tomboy, HIFF 2011, and Girlhood, HIFF 2014), it is a love story set in 18th century Brittany where Marianne, a portraitist (Noémie Merlant), travels to an isolated island to paint the wedding portrait of a reluctant bride (Adèle Haenel). Their relationship grows into love in a masterpiece that has been called The Piano of the 21stt century. Cinemanse brings Portrait of a Lady on Fire to cinemas on December 27.

The first ever R&A Shorts Gala provides a unique opportunity to see the year’s most eagerly anticipated domestic short film event on the silver screen. The short film series ONE-OFF INCIDENT constitutes of eleven short films that raise awareness of the exercise of power towards women in private lives as well as in society. The new gala is part of the Cut to the Chase – R&A Shorts event organized in conjunction with HIFF. FORCE OF HABIT, a feature film based on six of the One-Off Incident shorts will have its Finnish premiere on September 27 distributed by Tuffi Films.

HIFF Fights Climate Change

A number of HIFF films seek solutions to the historic challenge presented by climate change. Among them are the breathtaking ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH that portrays the traces left on Earth by mankind, the Sundance award winner HONEYLAND about Macedonia’s last beekeeper, and the gently humoristic VILLAGE OF SWIMMING COWS. The fight against climate change is also featured in the festival events.

– Mankind faces a huge crisis, but many of the keys to the solution already exist. What is essential is that we collectively, socially, and politically change our way of thinking about and to relate to our environment. This is the mental challenge that we want to examine while we consider the role that film can have in this fight, says Anna Möttölä, Executive Director of HIFF.

As of this year, HIFF will pay increased attention to environmental sustainability in its production. An important step is joining the Think Sustainably project of the City of Helsinki. By its activities, HIFF wishes to encourage the entire Finnish film industry to take steps towards an ecologically sustainable future.

Open-Air Screenings and Important Dates

The traditional Love & Anarchy open-air screenings will return to the Lasipalatsi Square in early September. Catch Harmony Korine’s cult film SPRING BREAKERS (2012), Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning MOONLIGHT (2014) and the touching FACES PLACES (Visages villages, 2017) by Agnès Varda who passed away in the spring. The traditional outdoor screenings will take place on September 6–8.

During the eleven festival days, some 160 feature films and 190 shorts will be shown in approximately 470 screenings at a total of 20 auditoriums in the cinemas of the metropolitan region. The cinemas of the 32nd HIFF are Finnkino Itis, Kino Engel, Kinopalatsi, Kino Regina, Kino Tapiola, Korjaamo Kino Bio Rex & Töölö, Maxim, Orion, Riviera, Savoy Theatre, Tennispalatsi and WHS Teatteri Union.

More information on the programme, guests, and events of the festival will be announced at the HIFF press conference on September 5 at 12.00 in Kinopalatsi 2 (Kaisaniemenkatu 2). The programme and the festival catalogue will be available for the public on September 5. The Cut to the Chase – R&A Shorts programme will be announced on August 29. Tickets for individual screenings will be sold from September 12th onwards.

More programme announcements will follow on the R&A Media website (hiff.fi/en/ajankohtaista/ra-media) that takes the traditional festival magazine into the web and in social media.