The Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy has announced its programme. The Cannes Grand Prix-winning concentration camp drama THE ZONE OF INTEREST is presented as the Masters Gala film. The freshest film smorgasbord in the country also has Pedro Almodóvar’s new shorts as well as heaps of winners and audience favourites from the world’s major film festivals. Filmmaker guests of the festival include the director Catherine Corsini and the documentarist Lea Glob. The 36th edition of HIFF takes place on September 14–24, 2023.
HIFF adds another gala to its roster. THE ZONE OF INTEREST that caused quite a stir and won the Grand Prix at Cannes is screened at the new Masters Gala. As previously announced, the festival’s other gala films are the Opening Film MONSTER (dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda), the Love & Anarchy Gala film POOR THINGS (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos), the Human Rights Gala film JE’VIDA (dir. Katja Gauriloff), the Finnish Gala film DEATH IS A PROBLEM FOR THE LIVING (dir. Teemu Nikki), and the Closing Film PAST LIVES (dir. Celine Song).
The Zone of Interest by the British director Jonathan Glazer (e.g. Under the Skin, Season FF 2015) provides a scathing portrayal of everyday evil and fascism via the family life of Rudolf Höss, the commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The German star Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann, 2016) gives a striking performance as the family matriarch. Based on a novel by Martin Amis who passed away in May, The Zone of Interest is brought to cinemas by SF Studios early 2024.
The R&A Shorts programme is complemented by two newest short-form works by Pedro Almodóvar. Seen in Cannes this year, STRANGE WAY OF LIFE featuring Hollywood stars Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal as gunslingers and former lovers is a queer western that bears the unmistakable touch of its director. It is screened in tandem with the intense lockdown short THE HUMAN VOICE (2021) starring Tilda Swinton.
Cinematic manna rains from film heaven with 141 feature films. The most coveted new outings include SHOWING UP by the U.S. indie maven Kelly Reichardt, the Senegalese-French director Ramata-Toulaye Sy’s BANEL & ADAMA which was the only debut effort in this year’s Cannes competition and the Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s ABOUT DRY GRASSES that earned Merve Dizdar the Best Actress Award at Cannes. Among the international festival hits are the Bollywood-meets-martial-arts genre-blending POLITE SOCIETY, the Orthodox monk kung-fu slugfest THE INVISIBLE FIGHT helmed by the HIFF’s favourite Estonian director Rainer Sarnet, and the rockumentary KISS THE FUTURE about the attempts of U2 to raise worldwide awareness of the horrors of wartime Sarajevo.
The entire HIFF programme can now be found on the festival’s website. Sales of festival passes have also begun. Single ticket sales will start a week from now on Thursday, September 7.
Top guests come from around Europe
HIFF welcomes among its main guests the French director Catherine Corsini, whose latest film HOMECOMING made waves in the Cannes competition. The Danish documentarist Lea Glob brings to Helsinki her work APOLONIA, APOLONIA for which she followed the contemporary artist Apolonia Sokol’s life for 13 years. Filmmakers behind several contenders for the Nordic Council Film Prize are also visiting. For more information about the filmmakers arriving in Helsinki, please consult the HIFF guest press release.
Kaurismäki in English and intimate choreography
The HIFF programme features an exceptionally wide array of best new Finnish films. The cream of the crop is naturally Aki Kaurismäki’s FALLEN LEAVES that was recently voted the Best Film of the Year by the International Federation of Film Critics. The festival provides the non-Finnish-speaking audience with a possibility to see this gentle tragicomedy with English subtitles.
Other Finnish highlights of the programme are Selma Vilhunen’s FOUR LITTLE ADULTS, Tia Kouvo’s FAMILY TIME, Kaisa El Ramly’s debut feature film GETAWAYS & DREAMS, and the world premiere of the sensual German-Finnish co-production POWER OF LOVE starring Saara Kotkaniemi and Nicola Perot. To coincide with the film’s screening, the festival organizes a panel discussion about the work of intimacy coordinators at the HIFF festival centre in Bio Rex Lasipalatsi. This year’s festival also features Saturday morning coffee sessions with filmmakers.
The Finnish Film Affair brings a James Bond casting director to Finland
The 12th edition of the Finnish Film Affair (FFA), a HIFF event aimed at industry professionals, brings the international film industry experts to Helsinki on September 20–22. 31 Nordic films and TV shows in production or in development are pitched at the event. New projects include works by Miia Tervo, Jenni Toivoniemi, Tonislav Hristov and last year’s R&A Shorts National Competition winner Mari Mantela, as well as the upcoming children’s film Itty Bitty Princess.
This year, FFA’s popular Nordic Flair training programme focuses on actors. The 20 Nordic actors selected for the programme get to participate in self-tape and CV training under the direction of international top professionals. The CV’s of the casting directors who arrive in Finland include i.a. the James Bond film Skyfall and the TV hit show Exit.
The three-day Finnish Film Affair attracts guests from the Venice and Tribeca Film Festivals, from the Sheffield DocFest, and from the Variety and Screen trade magazines.