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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, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during today’s Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the center’s Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonight’s performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Center’s Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodina’s website for more details.



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