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FESTIVALS Finland

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Carlos Saura and Hanna Schygulla to bask in the spirit of Sodankylä

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- Unspooling from 14-18 June, Finland’s 32nd Midnight Sun Film Festival will screen a remake of the first film in Finnish cinema history

Carlos Saura and Hanna Schygulla to bask in the spirit of Sodankylä
Nocturama by Bertrand Bonello

The Midnight Sun Film Festival was the brainchild of Finnish directors Aki and Mika Kaurismäki and Anssi Mänttäri, who were once in Helsinki discussing where it would be impossible to set up a film festival. They decided on Sodankylä – a village 120 km north of the Arctic Circle, with (then) 5,000 inhabitants, one hotel, one restaurant and one cinema. Finnish film historian and director Peter von Bagh was also involved, becoming the first festival director (from 1986 up until his death in 2014).

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The 32nd festival, which unspools from 14-18 June, will – as usual – screen more than 100 films, ranging from old classics by veteran filmmakers to contemporary and experimental films, at the Lapinsuu Theatre and three other venues, for 24 hours a day. The sun does not set there during the summertime, so when you leave the festival club at 5:00 am, you meet festival guests on the way to their first screening. And since 1986, the world’s most famous filmmakers have made the journey to Sodankylä, which now boasts a population of 8,000 people, and several hotels and restaurants. 

This year’s contingent of international guests is spearheaded by Spanish writer-director (also an actor, photographer and producer) Carlos Saura, who made his first films in the 1950s. Besides “a hefty suitcase full of stories”, he will bring a film programme consisting of, among others, his Lorca adaptation Blood Wedding (1981), Carmen (1983) and Flamenco (1995). Already honoured with a European Film Award for his Lifetime Achievement, he was last year given a special Award for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema at the Moscow International Film Festival.

He will be joined by German actress Hanna Schygulla, who made more than 20 films with German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Two of them will be on show (The Marriage of Maria Braun, from 1979, and 1981’s Lili Marleen), as will her works with Volker Schlöndorff and Jean-Luc Godard, plus Anne Imbert’s 2012 documentary about her, Whatever the Dream Is. Her performance in Marco Ferreri’s The Story of Piera (1983) earned her a Best Actress Award at Cannes, and she has also received an Honorary Golden Bear from the Berlinale.

Midnight Sun’s artistic director, Timo Malmi, and programme manager, Milja Mikkola, will also welcome French director Bertrand Bonello and his Nocturama [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Bertrand Bonello
film profile
]
, “a hypnotic example of pure cinema”; Danish director Per Fly, who will soon premiere his Backstabbing for Beginners, and his actress wife Charlotte Fich; Russian director Aleksandr Mindadze; and Brazilian and German directors Gabe Klinger and Kai Wessel, both with their first features, Porto [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Gabe Klinger
film profile
]
and Fog in August [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
(about Nazi Germany’s euthanasia programme). 

The film schedule includes Personal Shopper [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Artemio Benki
interview: Olivier Assayas
film profile
]
 by French director Olivier Assayas (who was in Sodankylä in 2014), Certain Women by US director Kelly ReichardtA Quiet Passion [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
 by British director Terence Davies (a guest in 2010) and Sieranevada [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
Q&A: Cristi Puiu
film profile
]
by Romanian director Cristi Puiu. The festival will honour Polish director Andrzej Wajda, who died last year aged 90, by screening his last film, Afterimage [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Zofia Wichlacz
film profile
]
. Among the special events being organised is the traditional Film Karaoke, featuring US director Hal Ashby’s Let’s Spend the Night Together (1982). 

Finnish filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen, whose The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Juho Kuosmanen
film profile
]
won ten international festival awards (including the Un Certain Regard Prize at Cannes), will show his remake of the silent short The Moonshiners, the first film in Finnish cinema history, accompanied by Heikki Kossi and the Ykspihlajan Kino Orchestra. Kuosmanen’s 2012 silent short Romu-Mattila and the Beautiful Woman is also on the programme, and there will be some more silent films to boot: Canadian conductor Gabriel Thibaudeau will lead the Avanti Chamber Orchestra and Finnish soprano Reetta Haavisto through Phantom of the Opera, US-New Zealand director Rupert Julian’s 1925 adaptation of French author Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel, and Austrian director Hanns Schwarz’s The Wonderful Lies of Nina Petrovna (1929) will unspool to a piano accompaniment by Thibaudeau.

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