Berlinale winner and other film gems

The 34th Midnight Sun Film Festival’s (12.–16.6.2019) scheduled festival programme is now out. Prepare for the latest picks from Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals with other interesting, praised and controversial gems of the new cinema. As always, there will be themed collections presenting new documentaries about filmmakers side by side with their beloved but rarely seen classics. On top of this, there will be a selection of the most fresh and finest music films as well as some rare treats of the master classes.

On top of the new cinema´s finest is the rarely undisputed winner of the Berlinare’s Golden Bear award, Nadar Lapid’s Synonyms, the autobiographical drama about the problems of a young boy, named Israeli, who emigrates to Paris. Some well-earned attention was also given to the enigmatic portrayal of a village, Ghost Town Anthology, by the French Canadian Denis Cotê, a guest of the Midnight Sun Film Festival.

The festival will introduce another previous guest of Sodankylä, Claire Denis, her sci-fi film High Life with Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche. The last giant of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard, will be crowning his career with The Image Book, a firework of essays that confronts media and politics.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan star as a married couple in the stylish film debut of actor Paul Dano, Wildlife, a portrait of a family. Also representing the top of the American indie productions, is the nature-loving reflection of detachment and a story of personal growth, Debra Granik’s  Leave No Trace. From Latin America the festival will introduce the clever and thrillerish Rojo, a film from Argentinian director Benjamin Naishtat, that shines light to the athmosphere of the military dictatorship of the 1970s.

Representing Japan is the poetically dreamlike romance film, Asako I & II, by Ryüshuke Hamaguchin. A Family Tour, film made in exile by Chinese director Liang Ying, is a political family drama about the predicament of an dissident artist with dissent.

Representing horror film will be Irish director Lee Cronin’s Finnish co-production, The Hole in the Ground, with Kati Outinen’s impressing performance in a supporting role. Another previous guest of the Midnight Sun Film Festival, Portuguese director Rodrigo Areias will present another Finnish co-production in its Finnish premiere, a documentary film about a fishing village in the Azores, Blue Breath. One of festival’s top documentaries is Honeyland from directors Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, a film about ”the last female wild beekeeper”.

From Eastern Europe there will also be I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians, Romanian’s top director Radu Jude’s distinctive analysis of the country’s history and the present. Reviving the best traditions of Czech productions is the Winter Flies, a road movie and a comedy about personal growth by Olmo Omerzun, the director originally from Slovenia. Belarus, a country not so well known from it’s films, will be representing with another road movie, Darya Zhuk’s Crystal Swan, a comedy presenting a strong female lead as well as touching the theme of the prohibition on leaving the territory. The Kazakh cult film director, Adilkhan Yerzhanov, is on display with his colourful melodrama The Gentle Indifference of The World.

Masterclasses and specialties

One of the festival’s guest film maker, Kent Jones, will be presenting in his masterclasses films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller The Lady Vanishes, as an expert of Kazakhstan’s New Wave of the 90s, Jermek Šinarbajev’s true rarity, Revenge and another classic finding restored by the World Cinema Project, Touki Bouki, a movie representing African film by the Senegalese director Dribril Djiop Mambétyn.

What do we know about the films of the Baltic States? The artistic director of the heartfelt Riga International Film Festival, Sonora Broka, will be leading the audience to the joyful cult film specialties from musical films to erotic horror: included in the ”Baltic 101” theme will be Estonian director Rainer Sarmet’s November, Lithuanian Arünas Zebriünas’s The Devil’s Bride and Latvian Vasili Massi’s The Spider as well as Ronald Kalnis’s Four White Skirts.

Finland’s internationally best known festival curator, Mika Taanila will return to Sodankylä once again presenting not only the newest short film treasures of experimental films from all around the world, but also in a special show, the legendary short film sensation Christmas on Earth, by the shooting star of the 60s underground, Barbara Rubin, complemented with Chuck Smith’s documentary Barbara Rubin and the Exploiding NY Underground.

Music films and auteur portraits

Traditionally, music films and documentaries about filmmakers with production samples are a part of the programme at MSFF. The great actor Ethan Hawke has once again been behind the camera and directed a successful biography Blaze about Texas singer legend Blaze Foley. Airbek Daiyerbekov’s The Song of The Tree is a unique Kyrgyz musical. This time jazz is represented in two elegant documentaries: Leslie Woodhead’s singer portrait Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things and Eric Friendler’s It Must Schwing: The Blue Note Story.

The honored late filmmakers of MSFF guests Agnès Varda and Milos Forman, as well as cinematographer Robby Müller’s and director William Friedkin’s production is displayed on the films Cléo from 5 to 7, Black Peter, The American Friend and Cruising. In addition, the program includes portraits of Buster Keaton and Robert Mitchum.

Carte blanche and comedies

Pirjo Honkasalo presents her favourite films in Carte blanhce, and has chosen a set of films with young main characters. The series is a stunning mini-collection of classics: Indian Satyajit Ray’s Song of the Road, Italian Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Mamma Roma, French Robert Bresson’s Mouchette, Iran Forouk Farrokzhad’s short film The House Is Black and Polish Anna Zamecka’s documentary Communion.

The big circus tent is filled with laughter at midnight sun as the early comedies of European director masters are shown in their very own class: Dutch Paul Verhoeven’s Business is Business, Spanish Pedro Almodóvar’s Law of Desire, Italian Roberto Benigni’s Johnny Stecchino and Serbian Emir Kusturica’s Black Cat, White Cat.