Midnight Sun Film Festival to Feature Ecstatic Karaoke Screenings and Masterclasses from Top Film Experts

Held on June 12-16, the Midnight Sun Film Festival features special screenings, where experts delve into the secrets of film history and the audience breaks out in song.

Midnight Sun Film Festival’s spirited and beloved karaoke screenings will once again delight the audience in June. A guest of the first ever festival in 1986, Jonathan Demme’s legendary concert film Stop Making Sense (1984) will rile up the Big Tent crowd, when the oversized suit of Talking Heads frontman David Byrne will be thrown on by Sodankylä audience favourite, singer Olavi Uusivirta.

In the other karaoke screening, we present Alek Keshishian’s genre-bending nineties hit In Bed with Madonna (1991), which takes us to the stages and backstages of the queen of pop’s Blonde Ambition tour. In Sodankylä, Madonna’s biggest hits will be sung with lead vocals by actor and singer Oona Airola.

The slate of silent film concerts announced earlier will be completed by Olipa kerran talvi – ja lunta (1934), a visually stunning early Finnish short from 90 years ago. The documentary depicting wintertime Helsinki will be accompanied by The Shubie Brothers lead by Janne Haavisto, and it will open a screening of new Finnish short films. The film’s few glimpses of the icy Gulf of Finland are familiar from Peter von Bagh’s classic documentary Helsinki, Forever (2008). The other silent film concerts feature a selection of silent comedy shorts accompanied by Neil Brand, Charles Vanel’s Dans la nuit (1929) with music by Cleaning Women members CW03 and CW04, and F.W. Murnau’s City Girl (1930) accompanied by Neil Brand and The Dodge Brothers.

In the festival’s masterclasses, international film experts lead the audience to the hidden corners of film history. Arriving in Sodankylä with his band The Dodge Brothers from the UK, noted BBC critic and radio host Mark Kermode will hold a masterclass that explores recently deceased William Friedkin’s hardboiled American classic The French Connection (1971).

Head of Berlinale’s Forum section and Soviet cinema expert Barbara Wurm will attend the festival and present two works by 95-year-old director Lana Gogoberidze in her masterclasses. In the recent unique documentary Mother and Daughter, or the Night Is Never Complete (2023), Gogoberidze explores her relationship with her mother Nutsa, the first female director in Georgia, who in the 1930s directed two acclaimed films that were banned and disappeared for decades, and who was held in a prison camp. Lana directed the documentary together with her own daughter, third generation filmmaker Salome Aleksi. Wurm also presents Gogoberidze’s 1978 work Some Interviews on Personal Matters, a feminist Soviet classic, which shows how the daughter has continued in her mother’s footsteps.

Familiar film specialists also return to the festival to share their wide knowledge of cinema with the audience. German film expert Olaf Möller brings to the festival a selection titled Seasons in the Sun, featuring five films all set on the beach, a microcosmos of society that fills up and empties out by the season. Subjects vary from frivolous teen shenanigans made in the GDR to melancholic indictments of society’s Janus-faced nature as seen in Italy. The selection includes films from acclaimed directors like Italian Alberto Lattuada, Polish Tadeusz Konwicki, and Bulgarian Rangel Vulchanov.

Film studies professor Jennifer Barker from the US presents animation history to the audience with a selection titled Animated Dreams. Showing the power of animated film to take us beyond reality, the screening includes Estonian animations from the 1960s and 1970s. The films fly us beyond the clouds, dive into mysterious oceans, and explore the strange corners of our mind, transforming passive matter into surprisingly vivid life.

Director and visual artist Mika Taanila’s Night School of Experimental Cinema will again bring a selection of limit-breaking experimental shorts from decades ago to our current day to the festival. The screening includes Polish Natalia Kozieł-Kalliomäki’s expanded cinema work Warm Data.

The quirky festival tradition Leffaraati will continue with actor Elina Knihtilä taking the helm this time around. Knihtilä and panelists revealed only at the start of the event will rate and review a selection of surprise films – verbal acrobatics and unswerving opinions are sure to come.

The Midnight Sun Film Festival will be held on June 12-16, 2024. Serial card sales start on Monday, May 27, and the festival schedule will be released on Tuesday, May 28. The screening ticket sales begin online on Thursday, May 30.

Midnight Sun Film Festival would like to thank our partners:

Ammattiliitto Pro ry, Finland Festivals ry, EU/Creative Media, Laitilan Wirvoitusjuomatehdas, Niilo Helander Foundation, The Ministry of Education and Culture (OKM), The National Audiovisual Institute (KAVI), Finnish Film Foundation (SES), The Sodankylä Municipality, Taike, YLE Teema, The French Institute in Finland, Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Helsinki