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Russian Films Take Spotlight in Finland

Published: June 21, 2014 (Issue # 1816)



  • The Midnight Sun Film Festival attracted 25,000 peopleto the Arctic Circle this year.
    Photo: Ella Karttunen / MSFF

SODANKYLA, Finland — The Midnight Sun Film Festival in the Finnish town of Sodankylä has been welcoming Russian films since it was founded in 1986, with the help of Aki and Mika Kaurismäki, the country's most famous directors.

Last week, the festival, which takes place in the constant sunlight of the Arctic Circle and attracted 25,000 people, opened with veteran filmmaker Gleb Panfilov's classic 1970 film "Debut" about a provincial factory worker who falls in love with a married man.

"It is probably the best festival in the world," film critic Boris Nelepo said. "Literally everything here happens only because of love and passion for cinema."

Nelepo spoke before a showing of Friedrikh Ermler's 1934 film "Peasants." The film is a propaganda attack on the kulaks, the richer farmers who would suffer so much in the 1930s. Introducing the film, Nelepo told the audience "not to enjoy the film, but to find it interesting."

Set in a collective farm, it shows a deceitful kulak's attempts to undermine the farm. Set in a claustrophobic collective farm it features jarringly contrasting episodes, both murder and a goofy subplot about beards.

The founder of the festival, Peter von Bagh, showed his latest film, "Socialism," which mixes footage from Soviet classics, such as Sergei Eisenstein's "October" and Aleksander Dovzhenko's "Earth" to take a look at the ideology behind the Bolshevik state.

Von Bagh takes a humanistic tack towards his subject, enthralled by its aims but horrified by the gruesome outcomes. When asked if he believes in socialism, von Bagh said: "Yes, because of my background in a mental hospital."

In "Voice of Sokurov," Finnish director Leena Kilpeläinen looks at Russian auteur Aleksander Sokurov, whose "Faust" won the Golden Bear at Viennna film festival in 2011. Sokurov goes around many of his favorite St. Petersburg locations talking candidly about his struggles with state censorship and the film market. "We have great art, literature, philosophy — and with no results whatsoever," he says at one point. It also looks at his battles to preserve historic buildings and the film studio Lenfilm in his hometown.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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