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The abundant programme and the guests of the Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy (HIFF) have been announced. The biggest and most beautiful film festival in Finland celebrates its 35th year with a dazzling wealth of films and events including a birthday party. Things kick off with Ruben Östlund’s no-holds-barred satire Triangle of Sadness. A total of 141 feature films and more than 160 shorts will be screened in eleven days. Sales of single tickets will begin a week from now on Thursday, September 8. The year’s most sparkling film festival will take place on September 15–25.

Gala films – a feast for the eyes

The HIFF gala films represent the most eagerly anticipated advance premieres of the latter part of the year. Triangle of Sadness (SF Studios), a harrowing satire by Ruben Östlund, kicks off the proceedings while Mikko Myllylahti’s laconically absurd The Woodcutter Story (B-plan) is shown as the Finnish gala film. The brand-new Next Level gala spot goes to Anna Eriksson’s ultra-modern W (Pirkanmaa Film Centre). Other gala films include Decision to Leave (Cinemanse), a romantic thriller by the HIFF favourite Park Chan-Wook, and The Banshees of Inisherin (The Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Finland) by Martin McDonagh as the closing film with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson locking horns once more. The opening night ends with Don’t Worry Darling (Warner Bros. Finland), an already much-talked-about psychological thriller by Olivia Wilde with Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, that currently premieres at the Venice Film Festival.

Festival favourites and award-winners from around the world

Crimes of the Future, the new soul-searing and gut-wrenching exercise in body horror by the cult director David Cronenberg (premiere on October 7, 2022, distributor Cinema Mondo), ranks among the films that HIFF fans have most eagerly waited for. Brooding atmospheres are also on offer in Holy Spider (premiere on December 23, 2022, distributed by Future Film), a chillingly topical depiction of a serial killer by Ali Abbasi best known for his award-winning Border (HIFF 2018).

The Quiet Girl, an exceptionally delicate Irish prize-winner about the life of the 9-year-old Cáit by the director-screenwriter Colm Bairéad, has recently been nominated for the Academy Award for Best International Film. Mr Bairéad will arrive in Helsinki to present his film. Unconventional families are often in the focus of Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s (Shoplifters, HIFF 2018) films, and Broker is no exception. This time, a random occurrence brings together child traffickers, a mother who has given up her child, and a runaway from an orphanage (premiere this Christmas, distributor Cinema Mondo). The family theme is also strongly present in Carla Simòn’s Berlin Golden Bear winner Alcarrás (premiere on October 28. 2022, distributor Cinemanse), a naturalist tour-de-force that takes the spectator to the peach orchards of Catalonia.

The thematic categories of the programme highlight scathingly topical subjects that filmmakers have found to be of interest. The Framing Ukraine theme illustrates a state where life and films go on in spite of everything. Included are e.g. Simon Lereng Wilmont‘s Sundance-winning documentary The House Made of Splinters and Kateryna Gornostai‘s Stop-Zemlia about the tortuous but readily relatable human relationships of Ukrainian high school students. The third edition of the African Express theme is a shining example of diversity that covers for instance both Once Upon a Time in Uganda, an unbridled documentary by Cathryne Czubek and Hugo Perez on the Ugandan action movie culture, and Neptune Frost, an Afrofuturistic Rwandan sci-fi musical by Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams.

The Believe in Miracles theme dives into the realms of tradition and mystery. Donagh Coleman‘s Tukdam – Between Worlds takes us to Tibet where researches try to unravel the eternal mystery of death by studying Tibetan monks who have died while in meditation. Coleman will also be a festival guest. Enys Men, a folk-horror film by Mark Jenkin (Bait, HIFF 2018) wanders about on a desert island where time and memory blend with illusions and lichen (premiere on December 2, 2022, distributor Cinema Mondo).

This year too, the Next Level theme presents films that challenge traditional modes of cinematic narration and description. Apart from Anna Eriksson’s W, it includes e.g. Michelangelo Frammartino’s The Hole, a lingering story based on true events where the dive of speleologists deep into the earth assumes mystically cosmic traits, and Gustavo Vinagre’s Three Tidy Tigers Tied a Tie Tighter, unofficially designated Most Unusual Film Title of the Festival, in which the young protagonists wander around a São Paulo that has fallen prey to the pandemic and to capitalism.

The festival also presents all five candidates for the Nordic Council Film Prize.

The HIFF pays homage to the memory of the trailblazing filmmaker Lina Wertmüller, who passed away at the end of last year at the respectable age of 93 and to whom the festival owes its Love & Anarchy name, with a screening of her Seven Beauties.

Seek Bromance, an identity trip by Samira Elagoz shot in the middle of the pandemic, ranks among the most highly anticipated special screenings of the festival. She will be seen on the Bio Rex stage in her work that combines performance, multimedia, and documentary filmmaking and recently won the Silver Lion theatre award at the Venice Biennale.

The botanical garden of Kaisaniemi provides the decor for a special Tunneilmasto screening where Elena López Rivera’s El Agua about eternal myths can be seen on a lawn field under a blanket of stars.

The long-standing cooperation of HIFF with the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) goes on as the festival presents   Playing with Gods, a documentary directed by Marjaana Mykkänen on the genesis of the mammoth “Der Ring” production at the Finnish National Opera. This Yle-produced film is also accessible via Yle Areena.

The guests as the toast of the festival

The festival welcomes an awesome array of award-winning filmmakers as its guests in Helsinki. Apart from those already mentioned, the actor Zlatko Buric from Triangle of Sadness and Pusher is coming as is the Icelandic director Valdimar Jóhannsson with his combination of psychological drama and black humour called Lamb. Nina Menkes, the director of the Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power documentary seen at Sundance, will be there too. The director Simon Lereng Wilmont and the producer Monica Hellström (also remembered for producing the award-winning Flee seen at HIFF) from The House Made of Splinters team will equally attend. As for the French director Lola Quivoron, she will present to the HIFF audience Rodeo, her first feature-length fiction film that won the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes this year.

Special events and a birthday party!

In addition to a wide selection of films, the 35-year-old HIFF has a wealth of discussions, special events, and panels on offer – not to mention celebrations of its 35 years of existence. The spoken part of the programme includes debates curated by Renaz Ebrahimi and stage poetry. Even though the festival only kicks off officially in mid-September, there is a lot happening from the start of the month already. Cooperative screenings enable watching films e.g. in the Botanical Garden and in a dumb waiter for example. The official 35-year birthday party of the festival will take place at the Konttori space of the Cable Factory on Saturday, September 17.

Finnish Film Affair

The Finnish Film Affair organized as part of HIFF brings the most prominent international film buyers, journalists, and festivals to Finland for the 11th time already on September 21–23. The pitch day of the event highlights 30 Nordic films in development or in production as well as four series projects in the development stage and also includes news about new films with or by Pamela Tola, Selma Vilhunen, Katja Gauriloff and Arto Halonen. In addition, the three-day event will attract quite a crowd of guests from Netflix, from the Cannes, Venice, and Berlin Film festivals, and from the American Variety, the foremost international film publication, to Helsinki.

Media accreditations for the festival are underway until Sunday, September 4, at https://hiff.fi/press/akkreditointi/.