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27th Midnight Sun Film Festival celebrates screen gems

The 27th Midnight Sun Film Festival (13.-17.6.2012) will be graced by the presence of two female actors who began their career in the 1950s: Finland's only Hollywood star Taina Elg, and Ingmar Bergman's protégé Harriet Andersson. Of directors, together with their productions, the American cult movie maker Alan Rudoph, Hungarian Béla Tarr, whose quite personal films never fail to cause a stir, two Swedish talents of a younger generation - Ruben Östlund and Axel Petersén - and the Portuguese Rodrigo Areias, also acclaimed as a producer, have so far confirmed their upcoming visit to Lapland.

Top experts like Foster Hirsch, the American guru of movie acting, the British specialist of Far Eastern cinema Tony Rayns, and Olaf Möller from Germany will be holding the Master Classes. Premiere screenings of Finnish films will include at least Jarmo Lampela's Miesten välisiä keskusteluja, Watermark by Rax Rinnekangas, and Juho Kuosmanen's Romu-Mattila ja kaunis nainen. In addition to the directors, Finnish actor guests venturing north of the Arctic Circle will include Rea Mauranen, Ilkka Heiskanen, Kari-Pekka Toivonen, and Juha Kukkonen.

The silent film concerts, crowned by live music, will include Sunrise, the compelling American masterpiece of the silent era, with music performed by Yrjänä Sauros and Mikko Perkola, as well as two separate performances by the Dutch orchestra of Maud Nelissen, accompanying the screenings of Chaplin’s The Immigrant, The Overcoat, based on the short story by Gogol, and the French films Nothing But The Hours and The Smiling Madame Beudet.

In addition, the programme of the Midnight Sun Film Festival, to be completed later, will include e.g. the most fascinating pearls of modern cinema from around the world, the best Finnish films of the past season, and a series of films under the theme of The Train, arranged in co-operation with VR. Festival Director Peter von Bagh and the members of the Artistic Committee, Aki Kaurismäki, Mika Kaurismäki and Timo Malmi continue to be responsible for the programme.


 
Guests

ALAN RUDOLPH (b. 1943), the man of many swinging cult films, is a director too unusual for the jaded taste of modern Hollywood. As the result, Rudolph has not made a single film in ten years although he used to direct one, even two films per year - now popular, now award-winning ones. He grew up in Hollywood, under the influence of his director father. Rudolph did, however, receive a rather un-Hollywood-like boost for his career as the assistant director of the outstanding 70s works of his mentor Robert Altman, of which at least The Long Goodbye, based on the novel by Chandler, will be screened in Sodankylä. Rudolph’s most successful achievements were the personal projects alternating with his studio productions, like the film noir melodrama Remember My Name (1978), the erotic comedy/drama Choose Me (1984), the dark crime melodrama Trouble In Mind, and The Moderns, a depiction of American artists in Paris. They move splendidly between modernism and the conventions of Hollywood by combining romance and irony into a dream-like, slightly claustrophobic world into which superbly used music weaves an intense atmosphere. The actors favoured by Rudolph, like Geraldine Chaplin, Keith Carradine, Genevieve Bujold, and Kris Kristofferson, have received some of their most rewarding roles from him. Nick Nolte and Julie Christie joined the list in Afterglow (1977), a romantic comedy. Christie was nominated for an Oscar in her role in the film.

BÉLA TARR (b. 1955) was for long one of Eastern European cinema’s most enchanting secrets until his hypnotic, roughly poetic and visually dazzling production received vociferous supporters among the top representatives of Western cinema writers (Susan Sontag, Jonathan Rosenbaum) and directors (Jim Jarmusch, Gus Van Sant). It is ironic that just as Tarr received his widest public recognition with his film The Turin Horse (The Berlin Silver Bear in 2011), the film is also an obvious testament, the conclusion of an ambitious career. Tarr’s career in film, commenced in the 1970s, received international attention when the director’s profound collaboration with the author Laszlo Kraznahorkai started to take shape with Damnation (1988). The films Tarr has shot in black-and-white have formed one of the most consistent re-evaluation of cinema aesthetics in modern cinema, with Tarr’s wife, editor Ágnes Hranitzky as one essential player in his filmmaking team. We will screen a most imposing selection of the top Tarr works exploring the recent history of Hungary, his native country, all impressive in their musical force: in addition to the ones mentioned earlier, Werckmeister Harmonies and The Man from London.

HARRIET ANDERSSON (b. 1932) is above all the star of the greatest of Swedish directors, Ingmar Bergman. He considered Andersson a natural prodigy and “a genius of film work.” The title role of a working-class girl in Summer with Monika (1953), her first collaboration with Bergman, thrust Andersson immediately into international limelight: here was a young representative of the 1950s, a young erotic female rebel. Andersson’s career continued as convincingly in the next four Bergman films, most impressively as the mistress of a circus troupe director in Sawdust And Tinsel. In Sodankylä, Andersson can also be seen in Bergman’s two key works of the 60s and the 70s: Through A glass Darkly, and Cries And Whispers. In Finland, Andersson is also remembered from several 60s films directed by her then-husband, Jörn Donner. The Festival also screens several samples showcasing the high quality of Andersson’s work, who also acted on stage and in TV, under many other directors (e.g. in Sidney Lumet’s John le Carré thriller The Deadly Affair, Maj Zetterling’s feminist film Loving Couples, and Lars von Trier’s Dogville).

RUBEN ÖSTLUND (b. 1974) is one of the few current Swedish director talents whose works are accepted for the Cannes Film Festival Official Selection – like Involuntary (2008), a mosaic exploring Swedish group behaviour, or Play (2011), an immigrant-themed heist film questioning the limits of political correctness. Incident by a Bank (2010), which already brilliantly employed the same real-time one-shot technique, won both the Golden Bear for the best short film at the Berlin Film Festival and the Grand Prix at the Tampere Film Festival. The Guitar Mongoloid (2004), Östlund’s first feature film, the absurdly humoristic pseudo-documentary about Gothenburg, will also be screened in Sodankylä. His style slightly resembles the films of Roy Andersson, another Gothenburgian maestro, but Östlund does have a recognizable technique of his own.

AXEL PETERSÉN (b. 1979) is another addition to the Festival’s exceptionally strong Swedish quotient. His film Avalon, admitted to the Venice Film Festival and awarded the Price of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) at the Toronto International Film Festival, is an exceptionally spontaneous Swedish portrait of the lifestyle of people who have never grown up, now in their sixties living the nightclub scene of the Båstad tennis paradise. The director knows what he describes: he has grown up in Båstad, and inspiration for the film cam from his aunt, seen in the leading female role. Petersén has learned the skills of his trade at FAMU, The National Film Academy in Prague. His previous film A Good Friend of Mr World, a thriller about a youth addicted to gambling and threatened by a gangster, notched a Guldbagge nomination for Best Swedish Short Film of 2010.

The 33-year-old Portuguese director RODRIGO AREIAS comes to Sodankylä with his second feature film Hay Road, an adaptation of the Western. Its story commences in Lapland, continuing in the Portugal of the early 1900s. The inspiration for the laconically stylish work, accompanied by swinging guitar music, arose from the essay “Civil Disobedience” by philosopher and author Henry David Thoreau. As its Portuguese co-producer, Areias will also present Katja Gauriloff’s acclaimed documentary Canned Dreams at the Festival. Currently Areias is producing an episodic film with such top names living in the Iberian Peninsular as Aki Kaurismäki, Manoel de Oliveira, Victor Erice, and Pedro Costa.

TAINA ELG (b. 1930) is the most successful Finnish actor and dancer to build a career in Hollywood. Elg’s visits to her home country in the fifties were true star happenings. Taina Elg, who had embarked on a promising international dancing career, was discovered by Hollywood from Sadler’s Wells ballet dance company in London, landing a seven-year contract with the legendary MGM Studios. From 1955 on she acted with Gene Kelly, Lana Turner, Glenn Ford, and Leslie Caron (who starred in Gaby, for which Elg was honoured with a Golden Globe award for female “Foreign Newcomer” in 1956). She received the same award for “Best Actress” in 1957 from the indisputable pinnacle of her career, the 1957 George Cukor classic Les Girls, a musical adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomonin and a tale of different kinds of truths and lies behind the scenery of the show world, a combination of visual splendour and verbal fireworks. Later, Taina Elg has also acted in films other than American, in TV, and on the stage, receiving a nomination for the Tony Award, “the Broadway Oscar” in 1975. Her later career includes roles in films starring such diverse household names as Barbra Streisand and Arnold Schwarzenegger, all the way to Kummelin Jackpot (2006) by a Finnish comedy group.


Master Classes and The Actor Seminar

The Master Classes, held by leading critics and cinema writers lecturing in various corners of the Earth, again offer even more presentations and specials: this summer, it is once again possible to enjoy the classics and new top films through perceptive analyses.

FOSTER HIRSCH is an American cinema, stage, and acting guru. He has published close to twenty books on their different genres, e.g. Elizabeth Taylor (1975), Film Noir: The Dark Side of the Screen (1983), A Method to Their Madness: The History of the Actors Studio (1984), and Acting Hollywood Style (1991). In the Master Classes he will hold, this passionate and colourful performer will deepen the viewing experience by analyzing the relationships of Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront (1954), Marlon Brando, and Actors Studio, the legendary acting school. Professor Hirsch will also hold an Actors Studio Seminar on film acting for our top actor guests. On Wednesday June 13, the audience will have a unique opportunity to follow a seminar before the Seminar proper at the Lapinsuu cinema.

TONY RAYNS, world’s leading expert on the Far Eastern cinema, comes to the Festival from the United Kingdom. He has written books about e.g. the Korean cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wong Kar-wai and assisted regularly publications Sight & Sound, Time Out London, Film Comment, and Cinema Scope during his career as a critic, commenced already in 1970s. In addition, Rayns has curated festivals and translated films from several Asian languages, as well as worked as a scriptwriter and made film programmes for TV. The Festival will screen his documentary New Chinese Cinema (1987) in order to prepare the ground for the breathtaking series of the seminal works by the renowned “Fifth Generation” directors Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou, Jia Zhangke, and Lou Ye - from Yellow Earth (1985) to Suzhou River (2000), presented by Rayns.

Thanks to his 2011 visit and assistance to the Festival, OLAF MÖLLER from Germany is already considered part of the Sodankylä scenery. Articles by Möller are regularly published e.g. in Filmihullu, Cinema Scope, and Film Comment. This creator of many fine books on cinema also acts as the Curator of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, and The Austrian Film Archive. The theme of the 2012 Master Class to be held by this excellent lecturer and internationally renowned multitalented champion of cinema culture will be announced later.


Silent Film Concerts

Silent film concerts in the large circus tent, accompanied by live music performances, have always been the high points of the Festival. Sunrise (1927), the beautifully poetic melodrama and the Queen of silent films directed by the German F.W. Murnau in the USA, is the film a large part of the directors who have visited the Festival would take along them on a desert island. The silent classic will be accompanied by mononen, a group of two gifted and acclaimed multi-instrumentalists, YRJÄNÄ SAUROS and MIKKO PERKOLA. Mononen will fill the Circus Tent with melodies from the guitar, harmonium, chromatic harmonica, saurophone, and viola da gamba.

The Dutch MAUD NELISSEN, who charmed the audience at the Festival already in 2010, will conduct two silent film concerts. The first will be introduced by Charles Chaplin’s The Immigrant, (1917), a tragicomically funny short film about the position of an immigrant, based on actual experiences. The main feature will be The Overcoat (1926), a film based on a short story by Gogol, directed by young Soviet directors Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg. It is also the all-time St. Petersburg film: a tragedy of a miserable hard-up man caught in the middle of czarist bureaucracy. This magnificent work will be accompanied by MAUD NELISSEN, (piano), EEVA KOSKINEN (violin), PAMELA SMITS (cello) and FEDOR TEUNISSE (percussion).

In their second production, Nelissen’s orchestra offers an assuredly unforgettable French evening with two films. Alberto Cavalcanti was born in Brazil and worked in many countries. His documentary Nothing But The Hours (1926) is a journey into the heart of a metropolis, a fine description of the Paris of the underprivileged. The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923), is the powerful story of a wise woman whose destiny is to languish in a loveless marriage by Germaine Dulac, the leading radical feminist of her era. Along Nelissen, these two “half-length” silent films will be accompanied by EEVA KOSKINEN (violin) and PAMELA SMITS (cello).


Pearls Of New Cinema

The most fascinating films of the previous year from around the world will again burst onto the four screens of the Festival in a wide-ranging selection of “hand-picked” pearls, with more additions to be announced later. 

Almayer’s Folly, the sensual adaptation of the novel by Conrad by the Belgian Chantal Akerman explores the relations between Europeanism and the native population of Malaysia. The latest landmark by her fellow countrymen Jean & Luc Dardenne, The Kid with a Bike, rich in nuances, follows an eleven-year-old boy between his undependable father and a mother figure. 17 Girls by the French sisters Delphine & Muriel Coulin successfully captures the patterns of group behaviour in a true story about a group of schoolgirls getting pregnant together. Bertrand Bonello’s House of Tolerance is an elegant view on the realities of a Parisian high-class bordello at the turn of the 20th century.

Tabu, for which the Portuguese director Miguel Gomez received an award at The Berlin Film Festival, pays homage to silent cinema with its sophisticated melodrama from the era of Colonial Africa. Aleksandr Zeldovich’s philosophic sci-fi epic Target paints us an impressive dystopia of Russia in year 2020. Filippos Tsitos from Greece won the Silver Shell for Best Director for Unfair World, a tragicomedy of a police detective’s crime and love. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, for which the Turkish Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the Cannes Grand Prix follows in a masterly fashion the moral issues of a police investigation in the countryside night. Death For Sale by Faouzi Bensaïd from Morocco is a passionately poetic thriller of the crimes and love of three youths of the country’s lost generation.

From Israel, now a formidable film country, two films about the nation’s internal tensions and anguish: Joseph Cedar’s Footnote, an ironic and intelligent description of the competitive relationship between father and son, both scientists, for which he won an award in Cannes, and Nadav Lapid’s Policeman, a stringently critical outlook on the police and terrorist youths. Short-listed for the Canadian Oscar nominations, Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar is a lively humane portrayal of immigrants and problems at school in the shadow of a tragedy. Anna Paguin, Mark Ruffalo and Matt Damon perform the leading roles in Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret, description of trauma caused by an accident, a film legendarily long in the making. American nightmares are also deconstructed in Take Shelter, the stylish handiwork of another indie talent, Jeff Nichols, starring Michael Shannon. In Miss Bala, a critical thriller by Mexican Gerardo Naranjo, a beauty queen finds herself in the middle of border country drug wars. Back to Stay by Milagros Mumenthaler, the Argentine winner of the Locarno Film Festival main prize, describes the losses and  growing up of three sisters. Another Argentine director Pablo Giorgelli won the Golden Camera prize for the best first feature film in Cannes for Las acacias, a love story and a road movie about a trucker and a single mother. Of our two animations for adults, the full-blooded Tatsumi by Eric Khoon from Singapore celebrates the life and work of a famous Japanese comic artist, and Tomás Lunák’s Alois Nebel, a film that garnered the Czech Oscar nomination, tells the story of a station master from the turmoil of the post-war days to the Velvet Revolution. Mila Turajlic’s Cinema Komunisto, too, explores the near past of Eastern Europe, unrelentingly documenting the former Yugoslav as a cinema state helmed by President Tito, a film buff.


Finnish Premiere Screenings and Guests

The cream of the previous Finnish cinema season will be screened at Sodankylä again. There will also be an abundance of visiting guests and premiere screenings, introduced in more detail at our next press conference.

At this point, two premiere screenings of feature films have been confirmed. In JARMO LAMPELA’S comeback film Miesten välisiä keskusteluja, a talented scoundrel of an author finds a new direction in his life. Besides the director, JUHA KUKKONEN and REA MAURANEN from the film’s main cast will attend the Festival. Multiartistic RAX RINNEKANGAS will be here, bringing along his acclaimed first feature film Journey To Eden as well as his latest one, Watermark. The latter – with Hannu-Pekka Björkman, Kalle Holmberg and Seela Sella in leading roles – relates a story about a journey of apology to Venice by a half-Jewish photographer, son of a Professor who informed on Jews in Helsinki during WWII.

Other Finnish guests who have already confirmed their arrival include some of the most popular Finnish cinema and TV actors: ILKKA HEISKANEN (Silence), KARI-PEKKA TOIVONEN (The Storage) and KARI VÄÄNÄNEN (The Rise And Fall Of A Friendship, filmed in Sodankylä), and director, father of the idea for the Festival, ANSSI MÄNTTÄRI (The Rise And Fall Of A Friendship) as well as JUHO KUOSMANEN, “the Cannes award winner.” More of his latest feat of directing in the Special Programme section.


On The Tracks

In cooperation with VR and KAVA The National Audiovisual Archive, the Festival will screen an extensive series of train-themed films highlighting the crucial effect of trains on our life: how since their introduction, people have always lived on trains and on their terms. The series includes Finnish classics discovering their proper glow on the silver screen, e.g. Roland af Hällström’s Pikajuna pohjoiseen (1947) and Ville Salminen’s Evakko (1956), complemented with Peter Lichtefeld’s hilarious German comedy Train Birds (1998), inspired by our Festival.

Screenings are set in train with short films that, utilizing the means of both documentaries and fiction, awaken both touching and historical memories on the theme of trains, e.g. treasures like The Heart Of The Nation (1989) by Antti Peippo, or Station (1989) by Peter von Bagh. 

KAVA will continue the theme in its own screenings in the autumn with a premium selection of foreign train films. Our extensive cooperation with VR and KAVA also includes On The Tracks, an exhibition of still photographs from train-themed Finnish films to be opened at the Helsinki Railway Station in late 2012. More information of the Train Theme and audience competitions coupled to it will be given at our next Press Conference.


Special Programme

Romu-Mattila ja kaunis nainen, a melancholy and captivating thirty-minute new short fiction film by Juho Kuosmanen, whose The Painting Sellers won the Cinéfondation prize in Cannes, belongs to the category of silent film concerts, but the multimedia experience from the town of Kokkola on the West Coast of Finland is something else altogether: Ykspihlajan Kino-Orkesteri performs the music of Miika Snåre and Oona and Leena Airola. In addition, the leading Foley artist of the country Heikki Kossi will also deliver a live performance of all of the sound effects. After the short film screening comes a bonus: a concert of tunes familiar from films, with the orchestra fortified with the female duo Satamakadun Seireenit.

Hosted by Minna Joenniemi, The Poem Jury will strike again at the premiere of news films from 1940s prior to the advent of the TV, accompanied by actors reading poems,. The entertaining Movie Jury hosted by Jukka Virtanen will also make a comeback by popular demand: the films to be judged this time are Finnish short films screened at the festival.

Who wins the annual Sodankylä Award? That, too, will be revealed during the Festival. Another tradition is the part of the Festival that demands peak condition: the soccer match “Finland vs. Globalisation.” And one of the most delightful Sodankylä traditions, the karaoke screenings will continue, too – with films announced at a later stage. The same goes with the performers at the Festival Club.


Travel & Stay

Information on accommodation in Sodankylä: www.msfilmfestival.fi. You can reach Sodankylä conveniently by car, train (www.vr.fi), coach and bus, or by air. Trains and planes will take you to Rovaniemi, with bus connections to Sodankylä.


 
Enquiries:

  www.msfilmfestival.fi


 

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