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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

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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