During the lockdown season, Midnight Sun Film Festival’s online festival, MIDNIGHT SUN FOREVER, presents more than 50 films accompanied by unforgettable morning discussions and recent filmmaker interviews during 10–14 June 2020. In these exceptional circumstances, the films and talks (all arranged in Finnish) will be brought to the audience online.
The cornerstone of the Midnight Sun Film Festival’s unique spirit are the morning discussions. First two decades they were hosted by Peter von Bagh and have continued with the artistic director of the festival, Timo Malmi and many others. These cinema devotees’ gatherings, peppered by sleep deprivation and anarchy, have been recorded, and this summer sees the opportunity to present them to the wider audience. In never-before-seen recordings, Francis Ford Coppola marvels at the Northern sunlight and the fact that people in this northernmost corner of Europe even know who he is; Agnés Varda, the pioneer of feminist film, ponders the tug-of-war between intellect and intuition; Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, the most lauded filmmaker of the African continent, talks about his childhood; and Jörn Donner, the giant of Finnish culture, scolds our country’s lacklustre cultural scene. The acclaimed Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf and her father, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, recount astounding stories of their lives, often more amazing than fiction.
These morning discussion compilations set the stage for the films available for viewing through the festival website. Mike Leigh, the hallowed master of British realism, remembers his encounter with Alfred Hitchcock as a preface for the Finnish premiere of his most recent film, Peterloo (2018). Agnieszka Holland reveals the connection between film studios and the Communist regime of Poland as an introduction to the Finnish premiere of Charlatan (2020), depicting 1950s totalitarian rule. Another title from Holland to be screened is the breath-taking mystery and winner of a Silver Bear at Berlinale, Spoor (2017). Milos Forman reminisces about working with Jack Nicholson, and from his formidable career, we get to see the comedy Black Peter (1964), the worker satire The Loves of a Blonde (1965) and The Firemen’s Ball (1967), guffawing to the Socialist system. For his part, the Greek director Costa-Gavras scrutinizes the financial hardships of his country, both in his morning discussion and his new political drama, Adults in the Room.
The festival programme presents many films screened in Sodankylä that have rarely been seen elsewhere in Finland. Ruben Östlund ventured under the midnight sun to present The Guitar Mongoloid (2004), an unprecedentedly frenzied depiction of the Swedish mindscape. One of the most interesting Italian directors today, Alice Rohrwacher was snagged to the north of the Arctic Circle almost straight from the Cannes Film Festival, where her intense family portrait, The Wonders, was awarded the Grand Prix in 2014. The unassuming and intimate narration of the film also appealed to the audience in Sodankylä: The Wonders remains one of the biggest draws in the festival’s history. Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari‘s laconic but heartfelt Attenberg (2010) does not paint a rosy picture of the everyday life in a Greek mining town. The festival programme also includes last summer’s favourites, the German System Crasher and the Latvian rarity banned in the 1960s for nearly twenty years, Four White Shirts.
The Gems of New Cinema strand presents some of the most accomplished international films of recent years. A Frenchman by Andrei Smirnov depicts the love story between ballerina Kira Galkina and photographer Valera Uspensky, and Tommaso by Abel Ferrara follows the life of an American artist in Rome with his young wife and daughter. The award-winning The Invisible Life of Euridíce Gusmão by the Brazilian auteur Karim Aïnouz is a sprawling tale of two sisters, and Martin Eden by Pietro Marcello an impressive historical drama not lacking in romance. Worlds collide and merge in Ilker Çatak‘s second feature film I Was, I Am, I Will Be, and Mosotho director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese‘s This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection became one of the must-see films in Sundance earlier this year. Midnight Sun Forever also welcomes the filmmakers of these last two films to be interviewed by Olaf Möller.
A leading film expert and verbal virtuoso, Olaf Möller is also one of the four masterclass hosts of Midnight Sun Forever. Möller delves into 1960s Slovakian films, whereas American animation expert Jennifer Barker‘s masterclass introduces two feature animation films. French-Romanian Marona’s Fantastic Tale tells the life story of a small dog, while The Painting is an homage to master artists. In the masterclass held by Mika Taanila, the avantgarde maestro dissects an experimental short film by Mark Jenkin, David Bowie is Dead. An expert in Russian and Finnish film, Lauri Piispa talks about the lost 1930s films directed by Valentin Vaala and Teuvo Tulio. Film clips screened in the masterclass are from Vaala’s thriller Sininen varjo, Teuvo Tulio’s The Fight over the Heikkilä Mansion, and Sami van Ingen‘s exquisite experimental short Flame, based on damaged film material from Tulio’s Silja – Fallen Asleep When Young.
The silent film concerts held at the festival’s Big Tent are some of the absolute highlights of the Midnight Sun Film Festival. Sami van Ingen, a wizard of experimental film, has conjured a soundscape to this festival edition’s silent film, the classic by the master of early cinema, Moana (1926) by Robert J. Flaherty.
The Big Tent’s singalong screenings have served as the jubilant culminations of the festival’s weekend nights, often escalating into a whirlwind of song and dance. A medley of Finnish Cinema’s classic hits guarantees unabashed singalong fun in the comfort of your own home! The festival is also screening recent Finnish short film gems: Maija Blåfield‘s acclaimed The Fantastic, Antti Holma’s hilarious Christmas short, Kill Anneli, and Teemu Niukkanen’s Are You Hungry?, which was selected to Sundance early this year.
In addition to the film screenings, the programme includes several discussions and other side events. The festival fun is completed with the virtual Festival Bar, to be opened on Facebook on Wednesday, 10 June, the opening day of the festival. Welcome!
The films can be viewed online via a computer or a mobile device. The screenings require an internet connection, a viewing device and a payment card. The screening platform will be linked to the festival website starting from Monday, 8 June. The films are available for screening only in Finland, and the number of viewers per screening is limited. The screening schedule of the festival will be published on Wednesday, 3 June and the presales for serial and single tickets will commence on Monday, 8 June. More detailed instructions on the screenings will be updated to this website, and a helpline offering advice in Finnish will be opened.
In addition to the Midnight Sun Forever online festival, collaboration with the YLE Teema Channel, Desert Island Films will bring the unique atmosphere of Sodankylä to Finnish living rooms during 6 June – 29 August. Before each film, clips from the festival’s morning discussions will be screened revealing top directors’ choices for films to accompany them on a deserted island.
The Midnight Sun Film Festival Wishes to Thank the Partners and Sponsors
Trade Union Pro, EU/Creative Media, Finland Festivals, Festival Scope, The Promotion Center for Audiovisual Culture (AVEK), Shift72, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, The National Audiovisual Institute (KAVI), Laitilan Wirvoitusjuomatehdas Ltd, The Nordic Culture Fund, The Ministry of Education and Culture (OKM), The Finnish Film Foundation (SES), The Sodankylä Municipality, The Finnish Cultural Foundation – Lapland Regional Fund, Tieteen tiedotus ry, YLE Teema, The Goethe Institut.