Midnight Sun Film Festival Gathered a Record-Breaking Audience under the Midnight Sun

 The 38th Midnight Sun Film Festival ended on Sunday, June 18. Breaking its ticket sales record, the festival gathered 35 000 visitors under the shining midnight sun.

Midnight Sun Film Festival was held for the 38th time on June 14-18. Throughout the sunny and warm festival week, the screenings and events were attended by 35 000 visitors altogether, which is an all time high for the festival. 64 screenings sold out. “When the only problem is as positive as a record number of sold out screenings (increasingly even screenings of classic films – such as Czech animation from the 1950s!), we can only be extremely proud and happily grateful,” says the festival’s Artistic Director Timo Malmi. “Particularly compared to the previous year, affected by post-COVID and cold weather, this year summery Lapland showed its best, sunniest sides.”

One of the top documentarists in the world, Ukrainian Sergei Loznitsa presented both his documentary and fictional works in popular screenings. The festival audience got to enjoy films from throughout American editor, producer, screenwriter, and director Mary Sweeney’s career, including her collaborations with David Lynch and her own directorial works. French Emmanuel Mouret’s films charmed the audience with their romance and wit. On the final festival day, Austrian David Wagner (Eismayer), Estonian Anna Hints (Smoke Sauna Sisterhood), and Icelandic Sigurþór Hallbjörnsson (Megas) presented their films to the audience.

The festival’s traditional silent film concerts sold out the Big Tent on Friday and Saturday nights. Matti Bye, Lau Nau ja Leo Svensson’s music gently accompanied Victor Sjöström’s 110-year-old Ingeborg Holm. Lau Nau, Topias Tiheäsalo and Hermanni Yli-Tepsa’s band Seitsemäs taivas lead the audience into the romantic atmosphere of Frank Borzage’s 7th Heaven. The band Maustetytöt performed their music in a unique film concert, creating a new soundtrack for Aki Kaurismäki’s classic The Match Factory Girl. In the festival’s beloved karaoke screenings, Olavi Uusivirta and Ismo Alanko lead the full audiences in singing Finnish tunes.

Aki Kaurismäki’s Cannes-winning Fallen Leaves had its Finnish premiere in Sodankylä in three sold out screenings. The audience went wild for the film in the first screening in the Big Tent on Saturday, in which Kaurismäki, the film’s stars Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen, as well as Alma the dog were present. Finnish premieres were also celebrated by Juha Suonpää’s documentary Lynx Man and Hanna Västinsalo’s scifi drama Palimpsest, which also screened at the festival for full audiences in the presence of filmmaker guests.

The festival ended on Sunday night with three audience favourite reruns, which featured Fallen Leaves, Georgia Oakley’s strong debut Blue Jean, and Veljko Vidak’s Cinéma Laika, screened in the presence of the director.

During the festival, a petition was put together by current and former members of Finnish film clubs encouraging people to found film clubs around the country. The signers of the petition include Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto.

We would like to thank our partners:

Trade Union Pro, EU/Creative Media, Finland Festivals, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Laitilan Wirvoitusjuomatehdas, Niilo Helander Foundation, the National Audiovisual Institute (KAVI), the Ministry of Education and Culture (OKM), the Finnish Film Foundation (SES), the Sodankylä Municipality, YLE Teema, the French Institute in Finland, Embassy of Mexico.

Image: Jacky Law