The Midnight Sun Film Festival comes to a close with the ecstatic atmosphere of sold out screenings

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The Midnight Sun Film Festival comes to a close this Sunday with eagerly awaited re-screenings. During the five festival days there were altogether 28 000 festival goers and 30 sold out screenings. The most popular screenings included the silent film concert The Patsy and the Hitchcock rarity The Ring (1927), which was a culmination of the sound artists’ Master Class. The karaoke screenings and Guy Maddin’s The Green Fog also sold out the Big Tent, for example.

This year’s main guests were the legendary French actress Bulle Ogier, director Barbet Schroeder, whose films delve into the darker side of humanity, German director Dominik Graf captivated the audience with his extensive retrospective and the acclaimed Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, whose potent refugee film A Season in France was this year’s opening film, shaking the sold out Lapinsuu audience to the core. French director Oliver Assayas returned to Sodankylä to host a Master Class on Ingmar Bergman, while the younger generation of film directors was represented by Switzerland’s Anja Kofmel and Katherine Wyss as well as the German director Thomas Stuber.

This year The Midnight Sun Film Festival hosted more Finnish filmmaker guests than ever before. Kristiina Halkola and Eero Melasniemi presented the essential sixties films Girl of Finland and Hot Cat?, with Halkola also acting as pre-singer with Olavi Uusivirta at Thursday’s supremely popular karaoke screening of Revolution. Tommi Korpela and Heikki Kujanpää introduced the most popular Finnish films at this year’s festival – The Eternal Road and Laugh or Die. Kari Väänänen charmed the audience as Santa Claus in the New Zealand children’s film Kiwi Christmas, while Finland’s number one author Kjell Westö presented his favourite films in the festival’s carte blanche Master Class.  

The festival started on Wednesday morning with a film education matinee led by Nathalie Bourgeois. The often forgotten aspect of sound was a central theme at this year’s festival with a Master Class, silent film concert and seminar focusing on sound in cinema. During Thursday’s The Sounds of Space in Cinema seminar, the charismatic sound artist guests of the festival as well as researchers from the Sodankylä observatory discussed sound from artistic and scientific points of view. Throughout the festival, sound artists Heikki Kossi, Nicolas Becker and Peter Albrechtsen hosted screenings of their work ranging from The Little Prince to Arrival, and on Saturday culminated their Master Class with a unique silent film experience at the sold out Big Tent.

German film critic Olaf Möller once again hosted an eagerly awaited series of Master Classes. This year he had chosen the theme of football films, in connection with the World Cup that started at the same time as The Midnight Sun Film Festival. This year’s Sodankylä Prize was awarded to Ville Walo, the man behind Helsinki’s WHS Union arthouse cinema.

The festival reaches its climax on Sunday with eagerly anticipated re-screenings. The audience voted to re-screen Mikko Mäkelä’s debut film A Moment in the Reeds, which had its Finnish premiere on the festival’s opening day.

The Midnight Sun Film Festival thanks all the guests, partners, members of press and the audience and will be back in 2019 on June 12 – 16.