The Helsinki Film Festival ফিরে a return to love and anarchy, an occasion to celebrate the exhibition nationally in person, said Anna Muttali, executive director of the event, now on the occasion of its 34th edition.
Although movies in Helsinki still have to be limited to 50% capacity due to epidemic warnings, hot film titles such as the opening of gala film Lewis Caracas’ tragic comic musical “Annette” and the opening of close Mia Hansen-Lev’s “Bergman Island” have already sold out. After the main online event of the year, the expectations of the audience for the favorite festival this year are clear. Foreign guests like Ninja Thiberg are also buzzing this year by screening his Sundance Sensation “Pleasure”.
Already the event has been able to maintain its dedication to diversity and inclusion despite the coveted challenge, with 46% of the 131 features and 149 short screenings by female or non-binary filmmakers.
The popular spotlight segment has seen rapid ticket sales for its program, including “The Gravediggers Wife” by Finnish gala night star Aidarus Ahmed.
Of the many live events coming back this year, do you think the audience was the most fascinated?
It’s great to be able to get international guests again because last year we weren’t really capable and now we have about 15. Short film in 2016. Her film “Pleasure” was already in the works and now we are really looking forward to seeing her debut feature. I just think he’s going to skyrocket after that.
And our program always has a strong Nordic selection and we are happy to welcome Nordic guests such as the experimental documentary painter Maza Borg (“Passion”) and Iceland’s Kristan Johannesdatti (“Alma”). Nordic films are doing very well now.
So while love and anarchy are dedicated to bringing world cinema to Finland, are the local heroes also a big draw?
We are really proud that we were able to present Juho Kuosmanen and his “compartment number 6”. It is great to see the Finnish audience so enthusiastic about a Finnish film. Also Timu Nikki’s “The Blind Man Who Wants to the Titanic”, which just won the Audience Award in Venice – two great finishes that we’re really excited about.
What was the main lesson of being forced to go online in 2020 during the Kovid outbreak in Europe?
We learned a lot, along with many other festivals, about doing things from afar. So this year we are partnering with the Asian Film Awards Academy for the first time because Asian film has always been a powerful part of the love and anarchy that has brought modern Asian cinema to Finland. Our section Asian Cuts has always been a favorite of our visitors and we are conducting an online master class with Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan (“Rouge,” “Lan Yu”), a director who has featured us.
Coming back to Finland right now via live screening, do you think viewers are interested in returning to the big screen?
We’re so much more about celebrating the movie experience and we’re looking forward to getting back to the movies and bringing our viewers back to the movies, while we look for all sorts of new possibilities. We’re collaborating with Festival Scope to make an online program so I think it’s going to be an evolving topic even though we’ve included these new ways to make the epidemic easier.
Flying among foreign guests is still a challenge for most festivals so how did it go?
I think in the future travel will be much less and people will not travel as much with their films, which is a wise thing to do. So how do we maintain the guest tradition of that special festival? We can already see that our visitors are so happy now that these guests of ours are coming. We have the director of the Greek / Polish / Slovenian non-fiction film “Apple” Christos Niku, and we are impressed by the enthusiasm of the directors.
Even just a week and a half ago we weren’t sure we could make a live festival and it’s always going to be a hybrid festival. Local restrictions in Finland were really, really strict. In Finnish cinema and in all cultural life it was really difficult, all the theaters were closed. But now we can use 50% of our capacity. Last year we could only do a quarter but we were still able to use movies and we were planning restrictions but now they have relaxed those.
Great time – and does that mean a significant reduction in the number of scheduled movies?
We have more screenings in every film so that people can actually see them. We have some less feature films – only 131 but 600 screenings in 11 days. Typically we have 475 screenings, including about 140 films and 110 national premieres. Our mission and our goal is to really cover the whole world and see the best movies out there.
Do you think that this year you will be able to fulfill your goal of bringing unique films to Finnish audiences that they would not otherwise see?
Commercial distribution in Finland is quite narrow so it is really important that festivals like Love and Anarchy show all the offers that are available around the world. And it’s really important to us that we have a major launching pad for Earthhouse movies here. And we have a very diverse section called the African Express, which is very popular. It is a spectator festival. The mission of Love and Anarchy is to bring bold and groundbreaking, visually appealing films from all over the world.