Cinema Interviews

Exploring the female’s strength from behind the camera


Assisting to the recent Tampere Film Festival was director Petri Kotwica. Do not get mistaken by the Polish surname; Kotwica is 100% Finnish, and he happens to be the great winner in the past Jussi awards ceremony (the Oscars of the Finnish Film Industry). He got the awards for best director, best script and best film and his film Musta Jää (Black Ice) was also awarded for having the best soundtrack. Before going back to gather with the rest of the jury members for choosing the festival winners, he had time for a nice talk with FREE! Magazine. 

Musta Jää was the huge winner in the last Jussi Awards, so I suppose you must feel really satisfied with it. How long did it take to put all the film together?

Well, of course when you receive a prize, you cannot less than be very happy. The film took me about six years. I was not working on it all the time. In the middle I made another movie.

What was your motivation for creating such a script?

Well, I think that at some point I had messed my own personal life. Well of course nothing that happened in the film really happened to me but I started to think about what would happen if I changed the perspective of it and would take the point of view of the women.

And certainly in the film the women´s characters are the strongest ones. Was it difficult for you to direct women in such strong leading roles?

Yes, that took extra time… to create the emotional aspects, you know. I had to spend time on discussions with women. There is a long tradition in having female characters in the leading roles, but usually the scripts are written from the male point of view. So those films are done by men, directed by men, etc. I think that I would be happy to see more films from the female´s point of view


I heard that your next film will feature also women as main characters. Is that true?

Actually it will change order a bit and won´t be my next one. My next one will be about young people who are playing too much computer games…  We will start shooting it in February-March.

In Musta Jää, you counted for the soundtrack with the collaboration of Eicca Toppinen, one of the members of Apocalyptica. Are you a fan of the band?

Yes, I got in contact with him because my motivation was to have very contradictory music: I wanted very traditional music but at the same time containing some disturbing elements and I had always found those features in Apocalyptica. I follow a lot of rock music.

In Musta Jää appears a German character in a small role. What is your general opinion about the integration of foreigners in Finland?

Well, that was requested by the German co-producers when signing the contract. In any case, I love that part about integration. I think the more the relation we have with foreigners, the more we learn. I am a very peaceful person, and you know that you do not want to have a fight with people you know. That is the aspect I like in globalization. Economical aspects are more complicated…

In my native country, Spain, we have had for many years this “Almodovar´s effect” in cinema industry, so seemed like there was no life after him. Is something like that happening in Finland with Kaurismäki´s fame?

Well, I was just in Berlin Film Festival and the first question everybody made was always “what do you think about Kaurismäki” but well, it is ok. It is important that now other films start to be known outside Finland.



"It is the first time that Hollywood shows interest in making a remake of a Finnish movie"

Petri Kotwica – Film Director {mosimage}


I can see some common features in recent Finnish movies like the mentioned Musta Jää, Valkoinen Kaupunki or Suden Vuosi.: Helsinki portrayed as a cold dark city, twisted love triangles, relations of young girls with older men who belong to academic world… Do you think that the same than in music, people talk about “Finnish melancholia”, is there a Finnish style in making movies?

I think so, yeah. Well I must say I have not seen Suden Vuosi although I know there is an older professor also there. In any case, I tried with my drama to show something a little bit different.

Is there anything you want to share with our readers?

Actually I wanted to comment you that there are some offers to make a remake film of Musta Jää in English language. It has never happened to a Finnish film before. The offers came from Hollywood. They contacted the production company, but well, for the moment it is only a speculation, not confirmed at all.

If you could choose, what English speaking actresses would you like to see in that version?

Well, I would like to see some strong female characters like Susan Sarandon or Sigourney Weaver. Before that they contacted us also from Russia and South Korea. Actually South Koreans producers were offering straight away to buy the rights and make a remake during last Berlin festival, of course in Korean language. I was thinking… “whaaaaat!!!???".

Photos: Eduardo Alonso.

Cinema DVD

I now Pronounce you Chuck & Larry

{mosimage}What happens when you have to take the relation with your best friend to a new level? 

Adam Sandler is, together with Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell, the golden boy of the American comedy for adults nowadays. Together with Kevin James, he offers here a deliciously funny performance as Larry, a fireman and well known gigolo who will have to return the favor of having his life saved by his best friend in a very special way: getting married with Chuck so the insurance can cover his children after the death of his previous wife. 

Added to the couple, the presence of a very sexy lawyer, Jessica Biel, who is going to turn Larry´s mind totally crazy, and the hardest inspector of the city of NY trying to discover if they are a fake gay couple, impersonated by no other than Steve Buscemi.

Apart from the unavoidable funny situations, the movie becomes also a scream for the respect of election of everyone; friendship taken until the last consequences, even if that means to go to jail, and braveness to be natural against a much closed minded society. A good plot, and as a highlight, an exhilarating scene in the showers of the firemen´s brigade, with huge Ving Rhames putting the cherry on top of the cake. It will certainly entertain you!

Rate 4/5.

Cinema DVD

2 Days in Paris

{mosimage}Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg are not having exactly a romantic stay in the French capital. 

Relations are never easy, and cross-cultural relations add even a bit more of complication to the issue. Marion and Jack (Delpy and Goldberg) are heading to Paris with big expectations, but life is not always as easy as fairytales. Condensed in just a couple of days, both actors are going to give a good display of the problems that every couple has to face nowadays: jealousy against old relations, patience for the manias of the other, sex not always working as great as both would expect, the problems of communications with the in-laws, etc…

The idea is promising, and some moments of the film are certainly good, like the lunch with Delpy´s parents (who happen to be the actress ´real parents) or the night party where Jack feels so overwhelmed by Marion´s ex boyfriends. But all in all, in general dialogues lack of that touch of sharpness to be remembered, and the sense of humor is quite poor all over the film.

Stereotypes about French and Americans overflow the film, and it is just in the end, with Delpy´s off voice reflecting about relationships melting with images of the fight in her room and others of happiness in the streets of Paris, when the essence of the film can be fully caught. With a sharper script it could have been deliver a much better final movie, but in the end, the product is boring.

Rate 2/5.

Cinema DVD

The Kingdom

{mosimage}Saudi Arabia is the destiny of a group of FBI agents leaded by Jamie Foxx on pursuit of islamic terrorists. 

The Kingdom has positive and negative features almost on equal quantities. The film is certainly thrilling and has some amazingly shocking visual moments, like the terrorists attacks at the beginning. The acting skills of Jamie Foxx and Chris Cooper are certainly excellent, but we cannot say the same of Jennifer Garner, in a role too big for her. She does not look plausible as a tough F.B.I. agent in the middle of Middle East.

Director Peter Berg achieves a film that makes you catch your breath during most of the action, but on the other hand the final message sounds too much like old American propaganda from Bush administration, where the best solution is to kill all the terrorists quickly and efficiently.

It looks also that the new rule in Hollywood is to show the collaborative side of the native security forces, something that we saw not so long time ago in A Mighty Heart with the Pakistani  police helping in the case, and now it is repeated with the role of colonel Faris (Ali Suliman).Maybe when USA, including their cinema industry, realizes that the world is not all black or white, we will have a better future. Meanwhile, get entertained with The Kingdom and try not to take it too politically serious. 

Rate 3/5

Cinema DVD

Negative – In The Eye of the Hurricane

{mosimage}The glam band from Tampere features their first DVD, recorded in their hometown. 

Negative has step by step been able to get a place in the hearts of, not only the Finnish bands, but also an increasing international audience. Without being revolutionary, but drinking directly from the glam bands of the eighties and showing the correct attitude on stage, Negative is nowadays one of the most successful Finnish rock bands. Added to this, his vocalist, Jonne Aaron, is a charismatic front man beloved by the female fans (if not, just watch out the first rows of the concert in Pakkahuone, literally crowded by young girls) with a kind of fragile beauty similar to a young Sebastian Bach. Together with the other 5 components, they release a great doses of glam and AOR in Pakkahuone, the legendary concert venue in Tampere. Nothing better than releasing their first official DVD in their hometown, and you can feel that the band is happy to be there. Good chemistry on stage, with the members having fun and sometimes recording directly with video cameras all what is happening on the stage.

Apart from the almost 2 hours of concert, where anthems like The Moment of Our Love, In Memoriam or Frozen to Lose it All could not be left behind, the DVD includes also a second cd with a lot of extra material: 5 music videos, an Interview with Negative, a documentary of the band touring around the world and some videos recorded by the fans. 

A praising effort to make the fans happy and eager to pursue the DVD. If you like hard rock and glam from the eighties, and you admire bands like Guns & Roses, the earlier Bon Jovi or Skid Row, surely you will be delighted watching In the Eye of the Hurricane. 

Rate 4/5.

Cinema DVD

Elizabeth – The Golden Age

{mosimage}English Queen Elizabeth´s life is once more taken to cinema, again being Cate Blanchett the one responsible to impersonate her. 

It is difficult for me, being native Spanish, to give an objective opinion about the historical facts of the film. Obviously, the point of view is pretty pro-English, portraying the Spanish as dark people dressed in black and behaving like catholic zealots (which in part could be true). Nevertheless, what the English ships did against the Spanish float that traveled to America cannot be less than considered as simply piracy. In any case, good to see Jordi Mollá in the role of King Phillip the II of Spain. Every time he is given a minor role in a big super production, he knows how to show some classy actor´s skills. Hopefully he will get soon or later the big chance he deserves.

This movie do not have the astonishing battle scenes or thrilling action of some others, but nevertheless the strong point is to see the life in the English court, and the triangle of love among Cate Blanchett as the queen, Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh and Abbie Cornish as the sensual Queen´s maid, all of it observed by Geoffrey Rush.

Owen and Blanchett are enjoying a sweet moment in their careers, and the good chemistry when they share some sequences is the best of the movie. Forget other details like the unnecessary speech of the Queen to the troops before facing the Spanish Armada (why lately every historical movie must have a speech before a battle? "Braveheart´s effect" does not always work the same…) and enjoy the struggle of a powerful couple between their passions and dreams, and the love for their country and their compulsory duties.

Rate 3/5.  

Cinema DVD


{mosimage}A new generation of American comedy is settled after titles like Knocked Up or this exhilarating Superbad. 

It seems that the genre of teenage comedy does not stop to get renewed and reinvented. If some years ago, we saw with astonishing the raw, non political correct but still very funny saga of American Pie (too much extended lately with films that are not even the shadow of the best couple of movies of the saga), a group of young talented American had done it again. Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill have been able to create two of the most successful comedies of the last year in the cinema theaters: Knocked Up and Superbad.

Opposite to American Pie, here the jokes are a bit less “disgusting” and the plot is more imaginative, although the centre of the action has similar foundations: the first sexual experiences of not very popular teenagers, and the strong bounds after many years of friendship that cannot be easily broken, even when in the middle of the action appear two crazy policemen (Seth Rogen and Bill Hader), that together with the role of Christopher Mint-Plasse (how to forget his fake driving license) are the best of the movie.

Although all in all, the movie maybe does not deserve the huge attention enjoyed in the media during the last months, it is true that will provide you with an entertaining time. I bet that we won´t have to wait long to see an incoming second part of the saga… 

Rate 3/5.

Cinema DVD

The Who – Amazing Journey. The Story of The Who

{mosimage}A double DVD spanning four decades of one of the most influential rock band of all times, the English The Who.

The Who´s spirit can be very well resumed in a comment made by Noel Gallagher during his appearance in the DVD “everybody was playing lead in The Who. Keith Moon was the lead drummer, John Entwistle the lead bass player, Pete Townsend the lead guitar and Roger Daltrey the lead vocals”. The Who was founded on the extreme competitiveness of their members, huge talents put together in a single band able to sound like an orchestra just with a guitar, a bass and the demolition work in the drums of Keith Moon, who will undoubtedly pass to the history as one of the best drummers ever born?

The double DVD is a must get for The Who fans, as well as for the new generations who want to discover one of the fundamental British band that leaded the “American invasion” during late sixties. The documentary features interviews with the two remaining members of the band (Entwistle died In 2002 and Moon in 1978) as well as with managers, roadies, members of the band´s family, etc. If that would not be enough, top class musicians who have admired and covered songs of The Who such as Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, Noel Gallagher from Oasis, Sting, The Edge from U2, etc. Some special winks to the fans like special footage never seen before, an analysis of every member´s skills, the film shot in 1964 The High Numbers at the Railway Hotel featuring the early stage of the band and much more.

Surely the title could have not been better chosen, since getting immersed in The Who´s history is an amazing journey that still has not got to an end. Just last year I could see them with my own eyes playing at Roskilde festival in Denmark, and be sure that The Who still rocks more than many of the younger bands.

Rate 5/5.

Cinema DVD


{mosimage}Director Markku Pölönen tells the story of a bohemian family that believes to be the descendents of the Romanov in Finland.

A finnish family that wanders around like gypsies, lost in memories and tales of other better past times, joined by a young guy who loses the memory, Samuli Vauramo, as Kasper. A family that is leaded by strong women, opposite to the brothers who do not seem to do anything more than drinking and spending the money with no sense.

Finnish director Markku Pölönen defends family values in a Finnish society that seems to be losing them too quickly at the present times.In any case, the action is slow during the first half of the movie, only spiced up by the moments when Kasper meets the young and pretty Kaisa (Sanna-Kaisa Palo) and it just start to become more interesting with the superb appearance of Peter Franzén as Laszlo, the black sheep of the family who has been travelling around Europe, and comes back to deceive the good feelings of the Kopeloinen family. He is probably the best of a film that tries to be deep but falls in the simplicity of the boredom too often. Unfortunately, for those of you who cannot understand Finnish, it can be difficult to follow since the DVD only counts with Swedish subtitles. 

Rate: 2/5.  

Cinema DVD

Stranger in You

{mosimage}What is left when your life is torn into pieces by cruel and heartless people? Revenge. 

Director Neil Jordan (Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire) has been able to put together another solid movie with this Stranger in You (also known as The Brave One). It looks like the feeling of vengeance is getting very present in Hollywood industry, since it seems that there are rumors that also an American version of the Asian hit Simpathy for Ms. Vengeance will be shot soon, having Charlize Theron as its main star.

Here we find the always admirable Jodie Foster, that although not completing the best role of her life, looks solid as the tormented radio journalist who is cruelly beaten and suffers the loss of her fiancée in front of her eyes, finding the peace of mind only when pulling the trigger to get New York rid of some disturbing and not much friendly human beings. But the nicest surprise of the movie is undoubtedly the excellent work of Terrence Howard as the methodic detective whose morality is going to face a serious dilemma while getting more and more involved with Foster´s character. Howard looks convincing, tough but funny and friendly at the same time, and steals the show from Foster whenever they share sequences.There are some fluctuations in the storytelling that could have been improved. Not much space for secondary roles, turning the end the movie is just a “tëte a tëte” between the two main characters. It could have been much more dynamic with some interventions of other side characters like the female radio boss, the neighbor or the closest friend.

In any case, there are a couple of features that make the film quite unique and rule-breaker, and I like that feeling of challenging the mainstream trends in the industry. One is the end: polemic and surely not correct at all for many conservative watchers, but that is exactly the feature that makes it great. For once, it runs away from Hollywood´s formulas and shows a character that can break the law without paying the final prize. Secondly, it also breaks the taboo of interracial couples in Hollywood; Foster´s murdered boyfriend is Indian, and the detective (with some slight flirting going on) is black. A good combination for an actress publicly declared lesbian.

All in all, not a masterpiece, but entertaining and challenging enough to make you have a good time and reflect about some moral questions and the fairness of revenge after watching it.

Rating 3/5.

Cinema DVD

Shoot ´em Up

{mosimage}Guns, blood, millions of bullets flying around and… carrots!!?? A breathtaking action for a movie that takes the shooting scenes to a new level! 

Shoot ´em Up is just the perfect show for Clive Owen. After showing his skills as tough guy in Sin City, he comes back as the mysterious and lethal bulletproof “ bad ass” able to dispatch killers faster than eating carrots. Do not expect here a great drama or a huge developed plot. Dialogues just link action sequences, but what action sequences! All the best from shooting scenes in film history has been condensed (and mostly improved here).

And the main characters have also some sticky and funny lines, very according with the general relaxed atmosphere of a movie planned to entertain, not to reflect about. Monica Bellucci looks splendidly sensual (as always) and Paul Giamatti is quite convincing as the methodic leader of the organization trying to kill the innocent baby rescued by Mr. Smith.

Hundreds of different ways of watching a bad guy dying with a bullet inside any part of their bodies, slow motions purely “Made in Matrix”, a corrupted runner to the White House that gets what he deserves, teasing games with the guns,  one of the funniest torture scenes you can see lately (Tarantino and Roth can learn a bit for a hypothetic new Hostel´s film) and some splendid final credits are some of the good arguments of a film that will certainly entertain you for one hour and a half. And you can always learn a couple of new ways to use a carrot as a lethal weapon…

Rating 3/5.

Cinema DVD

A Mighty Heart

{mosimage}Controversial director Michael Winterbottom is back with a film that narrates the real story of the kidnapping and assassination of journalist Danny Pearl in Pakistan. 

Winterbottom´s cinema is far from the mainstream productions. The director of films like the highly erotic 9 Songs or the highly surrealistic A Cock and Bull Story is very influenced by the military intervention of USA after the sad attacks of September 11th in his last two films: A Road to Guantanamo and this A Mighty Heart. The film focuses on the kidnapping of American Jewish journalist Danny Pearl, but the main star of the film will be the role reserved for his wife, Marian Pearl, incarnated by Angelina Jolie. Personally I find her too much overacting in the film.

I would have preferred some other real Latina actress for the role. Since the end of Danny Pearl´s sad story is well known for most of the people before and while watching the movie, the excitement about the final solution for the plot is, in this case, transformed on an attention and curiosity to observe how people can react to such extreme situation as facing the kidnapping of a beloved relative in a foreign country. For me, the best parts of the movie are when the Pakistani police captain (Irfan Khan) is in action through the never ending streets and suburbs of the city of Karachi, or when the investigation team is sitting around the table analyzing the twisted situation in Pakistan and its special and tense relation with neighboring India.In any case, being a journalist myself,

I cannot less than feel proud of those colleagues that risk their lives all over the world, far from home, in search of the truth and honest information. May Danny Pearl not be forgotten, but just settle a message of peace and understanding among different cultures. Winterbottom´s delivers that message, and the final scenes with the birth of Adam, Pearl´s baby, symbolize that there is always a new chance for a better future in this world.

Rating 3/5.

Cinema DVD

Nuovomondo – (Kultainen Portti)

{mosimage}Vicenzo Amato and Charlotte Gainsbourg embarked in a tough trip from Sicily to USA in search of hope and a new better life. 

Italian director Emanuele Crialese has created a simple but beautiful story about strength, hope and the collapse of the new world symbolized by USA against the old World of the Italian immigrants that departed to America at the beginning of 20th century in search of a new world. Vicenzo Amato is Salvatore, a very poor Italian widow who is going to try his fortune leaving his native country and embarking with his peculiar family to the brave new world.  In his way he will meet Charlotte Gainsbourg, and English lady who will put the cosmopolitan touch to the group of immigrants.The journey is slow, and boring at some times. But Amato´s and Gainsbourg ´s acting skills stand out, and when they share the planes, you find the best of the movie. A plot especially interesting for the Italian and American public that surely can see now on big screen a real story made by their grandparents decades ago. 

In the middle of the poverty and the hard conditions, there is time for solidarity and love, but also for the stupidity of the rules and examinations awaiting the tired immigrants after the hard journey. A situation that can be extrapolated to the present days, when it seems that the world is more and more divided between first and second class citizens, depending on the place of destination. Maybe the Finnish watchers can take some wise advice from Crialese´s film and think twice about their tough and not much flexible immigration policy. At the end, just as the main characters, we are just foreigners swimming in the middle of a milky sea, trying to reach land, in hope of a better life.

Rating 3/5  

Cinema Features

It’s film time!

A typical Finnish weather welcomes the guests of this year’s Tampere Film Festival. But the festival offers a way to escape cold and snow and to travel to exotic places. In this edition the festival takes a look at the new films from South Korea, the current trends in Russian and the cinema done by Palestinians and their neighbours. The festival opens today and it will show nearly 500 films during five days.


As usual, the festival offers also interesting retrospectives on diverse filmmakers. One of the most outstanding British avant garde filmmakers, John Smith, will present Hotel Diaries, a series of video recordings made in hotel rooms. Smith will be in Tampere and will discuss his work on Saturday 7.3 after the screening of Hotel Diaries.

Swedish Johan Hagelbäck will show a collection of his animation and music videos. The festival also offers the opportunity of watching some of the short films by veteran Finnish director Kari Paljakka, who this year was commissioned to organize the special screening Carte Blanche, to which he chose short films by Roman Polanski, among others, and classic Finnish documentaries.

The Tampere Film Festival characterizes for premiering in Finland relevant music films and documentaries. In the last years, Neil Young’s Heart of Gold and RamonesEnd of the Century were shown at the festival. This year the focus is on Kurt Cobain with the screening of the documentary About a Son. Directed by AJ Schnack this is a portray of the leader of Nirvana based on more than 25 hours of interviews conducted by journalist Michael Azerrad for his book Come As You Are. The festival also premieres Jouko Aaltonen’s documentary about Finnish punk, Punksters & Youngsters (Punk – Tauti joka ei tapa).

Finally, the theme of the traditional night long Saturday party is devoted this year to Finland. The long Suomi Night Saturday proposes a celebration of the Peculiar Mentality of Finns. It’s Finland 101: eight hours with new and old Finnish short films, city promotion videos, music videos and Aki Kaurismäki’s Total Balalaika Show as the star of the night at midnight.
5-9 March
All screenings have English subtitles

Cinema DVD

Stardust (Tähtisumua)

{mosimage}A beautiful fantasy tale with a lot of love, humor, and one of the sexiest witches of film history: Michelle Pfeiffer.


I must recognize that I have a special weakness for fantasy tales. It can be Lord of the Rings, Labyrinth…etc. Saying so, I have to say that Stardust is probably the movie that I enjoyed the most in cinema theaters during last year. Saying so, I cannot less than praise this DVD edition.

The cast is superb, with the nice surprise of Charlie Cox as Tristan, and the always beautiful and angelical presence of Claire Danes, who really looks like coming from a star. But the show is stolen by the most veteran stars: Michelle Pfeiffer who looks deliciously sexy in her comeback to the big screen, repeating role as a witch 20 years after making the life impossible to Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick, and Robert de Niro who explodes again his comical side with a really hilarious role as the homosexual pirate captain of a ship that sails across the space. He is probably the best in the whole movie, and that is to say a lot, since there are many good features to highlight in Vaughn´s film.

The script is great, landscapes are astonishing, the magic atmosphere is credible, and the secondary character´s list is impressive and make the story dynamic, as the evil brothers (with Rupert Everett there included) that one after another become special guests of the story as ghosts , the always incredible Peter O´Toole as the dying king,  or  Siena Miller as the beautiful girl to whom Tristan promised love in first term make a rounded movie, that can be enjoyed every minute of it for 2 hours. Run and get it, since it will be one of the releases of the year 2008 in DVD!

Rate: 5/5.