A selection of this year’s best Finnish films. The films are screened with English subtitles.

Bordertown (2018)

Detective Inspector Kari Sorjonen is one of the most respected officers at the National Bureau of Investigation in Finland. When his wife barely survives brain cancer, Sorjonen decides to take his family to an idyllic small town near the border of Russia, to live a quiet peaceful life. But how peaceful is life on the border between two worlds? Bordertown is the first Finnish Nordic noir series. The highly acclaimed first season has premiered in over 40 countries already – and counting. The first season won the Venla Award (Finnish Emmy) for the best drama series and the first episode gained over one million viewers in Finland. The anticipated second season includes 10 new episodes and 5 new crimes. HIFF will screen the two first episodes of the second season. Production notes
Screenings

Boys Who Like Girls (2018)

Teenager Ved comes from a violent home in the Mumbai slums. When he joins a project aiming to foster healthy masculinity, he begins to realise there may be a brighter path for his future than the one paved by his abusive, controlling father. One of Ved’s mentors is Harish, a gentle man in his 50s who has dedicated his life to abolishing toxic masculinity. Through the support Ved gets, he takes his first wobbly steps into adult life while developing an unlikely new passion: dancing. Boys Who Like Girls is a coming of age story set in the aftermath of the infamous 2012 Delhi gang rape and the rise of the #MeToo movement. The world is in the midst of furious discussion about gendered violence and what it means to be a man. Will Ved’s generation of boys be the first that actually likes girls? Production notes Director Inka Achté
Screenings

Cinema Dadaab (2018)

Dadaab is a dreamlike place forgotten by the rest of the world: a huge refugee camp on Kenya’s border to Somalia. The refugees cannot leave, but they let their minds escape by going to cinema to watch films and to dream of other countries – which they only know of by watching films. But the luxury of films is available for men only. Women of Dadaab are too busy to watch movies – too busy to dream of another kind of life. They are confined to their roles as wives and mothers. The main protagonist of the film is Abdikafi Mohamed, the manager of the cinema, who dreams of a life in the West as a film star. Other characters include Osman with a lovely past in Mogadishu; his wife Dainab who would not want yet another pregnancy; and Sidow, a healer-tailor. The men’s lives are interlinked by the cinema.
Screenings

Comrade, Where Are You Today ? (2016)

In summer 1988, [director Kirsi Marie Liimatainen] arrived at Wilhelm Pieck College near the Bogensee, a lake some 25 km north of East Berlin run by the Free German Youth (FDJ), a communist youth organisation. […] [T]he Soviet forces handed over the area to the East German youth organisation in 1946 |…]. Students from 80-odd countries studied there each year until the Wall came down in autumn 1989. Ms. Liimatainen’s year was the last one. She was captivated and deeply impressed by the spirit of solidarity there on the Bogensee. She was curious and visited youth clubs and discotheques in East Berlin at weekends where she met young people who did not join the FDJ. She soon realised she was not in a workers’ paradise, and quickly came to understand why East Germans were protesting for the freedom to travel and to express their opinions. The Wall fell, Germany reunited,
Screenings

Eastern Memories (2018)

Eastern Memories is an unexpected road movie into the Far East of Mongolia and Japan. Seamlessly intertwining the past and the present into a visually stunning journey of adventure and exploration, love and death, conspiracies and the fall of nations. All told by a dead Finn from the distant north. It is also the story of Finnish linguist and diplomat G. J. Ramstedt and his travels into the age old world of beliefs and traditions of the late 19th century, a world replaced today by market economy. He witnessed the events that changed the past one hundred years, and now he reminds us of why we are here today. Martti Kaartinen is a filmmaker and scriptwriter. He has acted as a lead in several awarded short films and is currently involved in various film projects as a director, writer and actor. Martti is currently based in Berlin. Niklas Kullström is
Screenings

Entrepreneur (2018)

Virpi Suutari has directed a visually mesmerising motion picture that plays with a sound and rhythm in a remarkable way. The Finnish documentary entitled Entrepreneur depicts two universes and cleverly shows the differences and similarities between them. It is truly a piece of art. Entrepreneur focuses on entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. It tells the story of the success of the start-up named Gold&Green Foods founded by Maija Itkonen and Reetta Kivelä, and the decay of Akseli Laine’s family businesses. They are all entrepreneurs, and live in Finland, but while the former two embarked on a journey because they wanted to, Akseli needed to because he lost his job.[…] Itkonen and Kivelä’s business grows rapidly and has several investors, Akseli and his wife can hardly sell meat and their amusement rides don’t attract so many people anymore. Entrepreneur reflects on […] traditional and modern entrepreneurship as well as Finland’s current status as
Screenings

Kääntöpiste (2018)

Jere (Samuli Vauramo) is a single father and gym entrepreneur living on social security, Francis (David Nzinga) is a paperless man on the run, and Vera (Laura Birn) is an actress stalked by her child’s deadbeat dad. These well-meaning but helpless people are brought together by chance. By the beginning of the film there’s a dynamic scene where Jere and Francis meet in a cabin of a night train. From there on plot twists, lies and Vera’s theatrical scenes intertwine in a fabric of stories whose sinister atmosphere is reinforced by a fragmented timeline. Social issues are present in director-writer Simo Halinen’s portrayal of people’s actions when having limited possibilities. The film’s structure, combined with the city of Oulu’s wintry landscapes, frames melancholy and hopeless situations well. Moments of joy happen when people come together; but happiness is bound to vanish once you’re getting hold of it. Grand emotions inflate
Screenings
There’s an admirable quiet intensity to A Moment in the Reeds, a first feature by London-based Mikko Makela set in his native Finland. Superficially similar to God’s Own Country, this bittersweet tale of attraction between a prodigal son and a refugee worker is both a more straightforward romance for much of its runtime and a sadder one in the end. Thin, blond Leevi (Janne Puustinen) has reluctantly returned home to help father [Jouko] (Mika Melender) fix up the family summer cottage before it’s put on the market. […] [Jouko] can find scant common ground with a gay son who’s run off to Paris to study literature. […] Leevi isn’t the handy type, so his father has grudgingly hired a laborer through an agency to help with the renovation. […] [T]hat turns out to be Tareq (Boodi Kabbani), a handsome, hirsute Syrian refugee […]. A Moment in the Reeds is deliberately
Screenings

Tyhjiö (2018)

Aleksi Salmenperä (Bad Family 2010; Distractions 2015; The Mine, HIFF 2016) can, in good conscience, be considered an important or even the most important Finnish filmmaker of the ongoing decade. He can now also be thought of, if only for a fleeting moment, as Finland’s Charlie Kaufman – whether he so wishes or not. Salmenperä’s latest film, Void, is a discreetly scornful portrait of being a Finnish artist, being a Finnish celebrity artist and being a Finnish male or female artist. Tommi Korpela plays Eero, a successful writer with writer’s block, who stares through his glasses in a Jonathan Franzenesque manner. Laura Birn is Pihla, who is at first beckoned by shady foreign films and later Hollywood’s orb of effects and bubble of dreams. Both of them have visions of what art should be, but gender issues inevitably get in the way. Eero is far too deep to do anything
Screenings

Viulisti (2018)

The Violin Player begins with existential crisis, shifts into marital melodrama and ends as kind of morality play, evoking both Chloe Zhao’s The Rider [also screened at HIFF 2018] and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash [HIFF 2014] at different intervals. […] [T]he film poses a terrifying question – what happens when one’s fixed self-identity crumbles? [Matleena] Kuusniemi plays Karin, an internationally acclaimed concert violinist so singularly focused that even her birthday cake is shaped like a violin. A car accident early on leaves her with drastic nerve damage on her right hand, so bad that she can never play again. Much of The Violin Player’s powerful first third plays like a sophisticated European Yin to The Rider’s cowboy Yang, burrowing into Karin’s suddenly unmoored sense of self and tracing out the crises that evokes. Married to doting [Jaakko] (Samuli Edelmann) and owner of a lakefront estate straight out of a lifestyle magazine,
Screenings

Waiting For Barcelona (2018)

Barcelona’s labyrinthine streets are the epitome of romantic city life – as long as you don’t live on them. But 27-year-old Mou does – he left his homeland as a 13-year-old and has since lived a homeless life around Las Ramblas. But Mou is not just streetwise, he is also a popular man and his friends’ friend. A love affair with a Spanish girl gives him hope of a new life – and a happy ending? – but the past and the mental pressures of an impossible situation catch up with his otherwise so positive spirit. At the same time hundreds of vendors are trying to survive by selling their replicated products without permission in crowded tourist traps. The police tries to stop the selling violently. […] [T]he film also centers around the idea of how the dream of a city is very similar to everyone but in practice differs
Screenings

Wonderland (2017)

Helena (Milka Ahlroth) remedies her loneliness with wine. Harri (Tommi Korpela) has left her for a younger woman, and her grown-up daughter lives abroad. On top of that Christmas is approaching, so something has to be done. Helena’s friend Ulli (Mari Rantasila) decides to take her to the countryside, where they end up on an organic farm occupied by a former city couple. They’re soon visited by another loner, Oiva (Martti Suosalo), who has his eyes on Helena. Before you know it, Harri shows up and one of the farmers disappears. Happiness is rare in this appealingly laconic story by Inari Niemi. The tranquility of the farmland offers a backdrop for the urbanites’ confusion with life. Finnish awkwardness and the forced traditions of Christmas are abundant. Translation: Arttu Manninen Director Inari Niemi will be present at the screening on 25 September at Kinopalatsi 8 at 16.30.
Screenings