This week St Petersburg will host the annual Finnish Film Week organised by the Consulate General of Finland. The festival will bring a diverse selection of movies, from short films to classic masterpieces of the Finnish cinema, giving the spectators a taste of Finnish culture
All fans of Finland and Finnish culture are going to have a great time this week, for St Petersburg welcomes the opening of the Finnish Film Festival for the 28th time – an event that has turned into a beloved tradition aimed at fostering friendly relations between Russia and Finland. The week opened Friday with the gripping drama On the Other Side of Hope shot by the famous Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, which attracted a great number of the Finnish cinema admirers. The main treat of the opening ceremony was a surprise visit of the film’s lead actor Sherwan Haji to the screening, who was happy to answer questions from the audience. It is worth mentioning that this year’s film week holds a special meaning for Finland as the country celebrates 100 years of its independence, which is reflected in the festive atmosphere of the event.
Looking at the film selection for this year’s festival, it’s clear that the organisers have brought the finest motion pictures for Petersburgers to enjoy. Two movies particularly stand out: the black-and-white Finnish classic The White Reindeer and the critically acclaimed Little Feather. Erik Blomberg’s The White Reindeer is a 1952 horror film that picked up awards at the Golden Globes and at Cannes and is one of the best known Finnish films. What is particularly intriguing about this screening is that it comes with a brand new Russian translation prepared specifically for the Finnish Film Week. Little Feather, on the other hand, is a fresh awardee of the main film prize at the Council of the North that has received wide recognition in Scandinavian countries. Directed by Selma Vilhunen, the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016 and has already participated in over 20 international film festivals.
The festival also includes a lineup of fascinating documentaries. For example, Vyborg 360 Degrees by Mariia Seppälä premiered in Finland in January this year, and demonstrates Vyborg from the standpoint of an ordinary resident, aiming to acquaint the Finnish film-goers with the reality of this little-known town in Leningradskaya oblast. The documentary consists of interviews with Vyborg residents, who talk to the director about their hometown that they so faithfully and ardently love. A journalist, hairdresser, festival organiser, tour guide, sports coach, musician, pensioner, and war hostage share their everyday routines, thus displaying the real, undercover life of the city. It’s fair to say that Vyborg 360 Gradusov will prove to be enlightening and revealing for Russian viewers as well, who will surely uncover many discoveries about the city they thought they knew so well.
Curiously enough, a significant portion of the films presented at the festival tell stories about children or put the theme of relationships with children in the epicentre of the plot. Three movies—Onneli and Anneli, Man and the Baby, and Revolution of Horses—draw attention to childhood and the importance of good relations with kids, which is a popular narrative in contemporary Scandinavian culture. For instance, the hilarious comedy Man and the Baby portrays the tale of a man who deals with the duties traditionally associated with the role of a mother and looks after his infant son, challenging the public’s perception of parental roles in the family.
The 28th Finnish Film Week will continue until 30th November with film screenings in the three following cinemas: Aurora, Lenfilm, and Angleterre. The schedule of screenings can be found on the official website of the Finnish Consulate General and the web pages of the hosting cinemas.