24 August 2013

Espoo Ciné selects its Méliès d'Argent winners

This year eight feature-length and seven short films competed for the Méliès d'Argent competition for the best European fantastic film at the Espoo Ciné International Film Festival. The jury has now selected the winners. The jury's comments can be found below.

Winners and the jury's comments:


Feature-length films:

Aleksander Nordaas, Thale
The jury wishes to reward a promising talent. Aleksander Nordaas has made a film almost entirely by himself and with a very small budget. Nevertheless, Thale manages to outshine many other films that have been far more expensive to make in its originality and scariness. Thale combines northern fantasy, original humour and aptly portrayed characters. It is also a warm-hearted film.

Short films:

Chema García Ibarra, Mystery (Misterio)
Misterio combines the strangeness of everyday life with twisted humour, visual epiphanies and a real mystery. Moreover, a film that features an 'ordinary' middle-aged woman as its main character is a pleasant exception in this genre.

The  Méliès jury of 2013 included the following members: Mr Jan Forsström, screenwriter-director (chair), Ms  Laura Birn, actor, Mr Misha Jaari, producer, and Ms Kati Sinisalo, producer.

6 August 2013

Cannes Critics' Week winners at Espoo Ciné

Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza

Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza are Sicilian screenwriter-directors. They work as screenwriters and script consultants in several Italian production companies.

In 2010, Grassadonia and Piazza wrote and directed their debut film, a short film called Rita set in Palermo, which became one of the most successful Italian shorts of the past few years. The film has been screened at over one hundred international festivals and has won dozens of awards, including an honorary mention at the Tampere Film Festival in 2010.

Inspired by the success of their short film, the men directed their debut feature Salvo, a visually extravagant and stylish mafia film with a new touch, also set in Palermo. The film was completed in the spring of 2013, and it premiered in the esteemed Semaine de la Critique selection in Cannes, winning both the Grand Prix and the Prix Révélation. The directors introduce their film at Espoo Ciné on Saturday (17 Aug) at 7 pm in Kino Tapiola, and on Sunday (18 Aug) at 5 pm in Louhisali.

Anja Daelemans & Frederik Van de Moortel

Anja Daelemans, who previously attended Espoo Ciné 2007 as the producer of a short film, is the key person in one of the most extraordinary films of the season: Comrade Kim Goes Flying, a genuine Belgian-British-North Korean romantic music comedy that has become a festival hit all over the world! Understandably not a critical examination North Korea's human rights situation, the film attempts to provide a different perspective to life in the little known land and to remind that people under dictatorships also have their own lives and dreams that they pursue.

Director-producer Anja Daelemans is accompanied at the festival by the Belgian sound designer and composer Frederik Van de Moortel, who is in charge of music for the film together with the North Korean composer Ham Chol.

Daelemans and Van de Moortel will introduce the film on Friday (23 Aug) at 5 pm in Kino Tapiola, and on Saturday (24 Aug) in Bio Rex Sello 5 in Leppävaara.

Viviane Blumenschein & Oliver Weiss

Mittsommernachtstango ("Midsummer Night Tango") is a German-Argentinian-Finnish co-production, a music documentary that was born out of love of tango. The starting point of the Berlin-based director Viviane Blumenschein was Aki Kaurismäki's claim that tango was, as a matter of fact, invented in Finland and spread to South American with Finnish sailors. This outrageous statement has also been heard in Argentina, where three tango musicians set out for Finland to find out whether there is any truth in it. In the delightful film, Finnish and Argentinian tango come together in a wonderful union. The director comes to the festival with the film's editor Oliver Weiss, who has formerly worked with filmmakers including Volker Schlöndorff, Wim Wenders and Mika Kaurismäki.

Blumenschein and Weiss are present at the festival from Sunday (18 Aug) to Wednesday (21 Aug), and introduce their film in the screening on Tuesday (20 Aug). The film will be distributed theatrically in Finland later this year.

Mittsommernachtstango will be screened with Finnish subtitles on Tuesday (20 Aug) in Louhisali with director Blumenschein and editor Weiss present. Later on Tuesday evening, Espoo Ciné will host a special Cheek to Cheek Tango Evening in the nearby Tapiola Garden with an Argentinean tango performance followed by both Finnish and Argentinian tango. For further information, see the Events section of the festival website.

Jaco Van Dormael & MichEle Anne De Mey

Belgian filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael (Mr. Nobody, The Eighth Day, Totó the Hero) and his partner, one of Belgium's foremost choreographers, Michèle Anne De Mey, present one of the most extraordinary entries in the festival programme: a live film entitled Kiss & Cry. During the opening weekend of the festival, Tapiolasali will on three successive nights host a finger-dance nanoperformance executed on a miniature stage and simultaneously shot on high-definition video and projected on the big screen. The result is pure magic, which deservedly won the esteemed Prix de la Critique in its homeland.

Kiss & Cry will be performed three times: on Friday (16 Aug), Saturday (17 Aug) and Sunday (18 Aug) of the opening weekend at 7 pm. The performance on Saturday will be followed by an Q&A session with the artists.

Van Dormael and De Mey have been invited to Finland in collaboration with Helsinki Festival.

Tomasz Wasilewski & Mateusz Banasiuk

Floating Skyscrapers premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April and has been dubbed the first LGBT film made in Poland. The film will be introduced at Espoo Ciné by director Tomasz Wasilewski and the film's lead actor Mateusz Banasiuk.

Tomasz Wasilewski debuted with In a Bedroom, an psychological erotic thriller which premiered in Karlovy Vary in July 2012 and became a considerable success on the festival circuit. Before making his first feature film, Wasilewski's merits include working as the assistant director for his compatriot Małgorzata Szumowska. (Szumowska's Berlinale award-winner In the Name Of is also screened at the festival.) Floating Skyscrapers, which won the main award in the East of the West programme in Karlovy Vary this year, is set to become the international breakthrough of this highly talented polish filmmaker.

Mateusz Banasiuk started his acting career at the age of 17, and belongs to the greatest talents of his generation of actors in Poland. In his homeland, Banasiuk is known for his stage appearances as well as his numerous television roles. His role in Floating Skyscrapers won great acclaim from the film critics of New York at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Wasilewski and Banasiuk are at the festival from Friday 23 August to Sunday 25 August, and will attend in the screening of their film on Saturday (24 Aug).

Cercueil (Nicolas Devos & Pénélope Michel)

French musicians Nico Devos (guitar, synthesizer) and Pénélope Michel (cello, synthesizer) form a duo called Cercueil ('The Casket'), and will provide a new sound-world to Eraserhead (1977), the legendary debut film by David Lynch.

Established in Lille in 2005 and enjoying a strong cult following in its homeland, Cercueil has released two albums (Shoo Straight Shout in 2009 and Erostrate in 2011) and has toured experimental music festivals in Europe and Canada extensively. In addition to Cercueil, the two are involved in another band, Puce Moment (named after the Kenneth Anger short film), whose debut record is set to be released later this year.

The film concert Eraserhead by Cercueil takes place on Wednesday, August 21 at 6 pm in Louhisali.

23 July 2013

Espoo Ciné International Film Festival: full programme details published

The full programme of the 24th edition of Espoo Ciné International Film Festival has now been revealed. The festival (16-25 August) opens with Steven Soderberg's My Life with Liberace (Behind the Candelabra), followed by an opening party at Casino Helsinki, and closes with Baltasar Kormákur's chilling The Deep.

This year's festival programme is organised into themed categories. The festival's Love theme extends from the larger-than-life love between a Belgian bluegrass musician and tattoo artist (Felix van Groeningen: The Broken Circle Breakdown) to a North-Korean mine worker's dreams of becoming a trapeze artist (Kim Gang Hun, Anja Daelemans and Nicholas Bonner: Comrade Kim Goes Flying) and a British family's crisis after the father is jailed (Michael Winterbottom: Everyday).

This year's outdoor screenings are also inspired by love. The festival programme includes two films screened out of doors: Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the festival's closing film a few years ago, now screened in collaboration with Helsinki Festival on Helsinki's Kansalaistori ('Citizens' Square'), and Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise, screened at the WeeGee Exhibition Centre in Tapiola in collaboration with the EMMA - Espoo Museum of Modern Art.

The festival's sneak previews of films distributed theatrically in Finland later this year have been collected into a separate Première programme, which in addition to the festival's opening and closing films features titles such as Emmanuelle Bercot's French drama On My Way and Anne Fontaine's daring Perfect Mothers, starring the excellent Naomi Watts and Robin Wright.
The Conflict category includes politically coloured films with the common denominator of conflict. The programme includes films such as My Sweet Pepper, by the most notable Kurdish film director of our time, Hiner Saleem, and Yariv Horowitz's Rock the Casbah, which analyses the Israeli-Palestine conflict from a fresh perspective.

The Past programme includes two kinds of films: historical dramas and films where the characters of the film confront their own pasts. Historical drama at its finest is represented by Jan Troell's new film The Last Sentence, the true story of the Gothenburg-based newspaperman Torny Segerstedt who openly spoke against the Nazi Germany, and Arnaus des Pallières' Cannes competitor Michael Kohlhaas, where the always charismatic Mads Mikkelsen gives the performance of his life in the title role. The always politically sharp Ken Loach has, after a long spell of working with fiction, made a documentary film. His film, The Spirit of '45, is concerned with the rise and fall of the British welfare state.

Films in the Dare category challenge the spectator in one way or another. One of them is David Lynch's cult classic Eraserhead accompanied by live music by the French duo Cercueil in a special screening.

Films in the Betrayal category reveal the many faces of human treacherousness. Titles included in this themed selection include Sophie Blondy's circus tale for adults, The Morning Star, with a cast of star actors including Iggy Pop in the role of Denis Lavant's conscience.

The Journey category showcases the many sides of the road film. A cause of special pride this year is Bike Shorts, a collection of short films about bicycling curated by Interfilm Berlin, the awarder of the VELOBerlin Film Award. The film is part of the biking theme that is central to Espoo Ciné's programme this year in more ways than one.

The Pink series, the long-standing favourite of our LGBT audience, forms an important part of the festival's programme. This year's selection of films in the programme includes both Teddy Award winners of 2013: a documentary Bambi by Sébastien Lifshitzs, already an Espoo Ciné regular, and the Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska's religiously themed In the Name Of. In addition to Bambi, themes relating to transsexuality come to the foreground in Negar Azarbayjan's Iranian drama Facing Mirrors and Jeffrey Schwarz's fresh biopic I Am Divine, where the life and times of John Waters' muse Harris Glenn Milstead is given a thorough inspection.

The competition of European fantastic films also forms one of the cornerstones of the festival's programme. One of the most expected films this year is Neil Jordan's anticipated vampire thriller Byzantium.

Kiss & Cry

Espoo Ciné collaborates this year with Helsinki Festival in a unique experimental performance: Belgian artists Jaco Van Dormael and Michèle Anne De Mey arrive in Tapiola on the first weekend of the festival with a magic, applauded live film Kiss & Cry, a nano-scale dance performance on a miniature stage that is simultaneously shot on high-definition video and projected over the heads of the performers onto the big screen in real time.

25 June 2013

Espoo Ciné International Film Festival Opens with Behind the Candelabra!

The 24th edition of Espoo Ciné International Film Festival takes place on 16th of August 2013 in Espoo, Finland. The festival opens with the film that was the talk of the town in Cannes in May: Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra (My Life with Liberace), starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. The closing film is also set: this year's festivities conclude with The Deep (Djúpið),  the latest film by Iceland's esteemed Baltasar Kormákur, with a story based on real events. Finnish theatrical premieres in the festival's line-up include Woody Allen's new film Blue Jasmine, featuring Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin in the lead roles.

New Finnish Film

Espoo Ciné is again proud to premiere a number of the coming season's Finnish films. One of the most anticipated of them is Princess of Egypt (Silmäterä),  the debut feature directed by Jan Forsström, one of Finland's foremost young screenwriters today. Taru Mäkelä makes a return to fiction features with the satiric comedy August Fools (Mieletön elokuu), starring Kati Outinen in a role like of which she has never played before. Ulrika Bengts has directed The Disciple (Lärjungen), a powerful drama about the difficult choices made by a lighthouse keeper's apprentice in the summer of 1939. The parade of new Finnish films is rounded off by a German-Argentinian-Finnish co-production Mittsommernachtstango, directed by the German filmmaker Viviane Blumenschein, where three Argentinian tango musicians travel to the land of the midnight sun to investigate the claim made by Aki Kaurismäki that tango music was actually born in Finland.

Celebration of European Cinema

Highlights of this year's selection of films at Espoo Ciné include two Italian entries: the new film by Giuseppe Tornatore, The Best Offer, with Geoffrey Rush in an unforgettable role, and Dormant Beauty (Bella addormentata), the latest film by the old master Marco Bellocchio, who also recently visited Midnight Sun Film Festival in Finland. The festival programme also features the winner of the Critics' Week Grand Prize in Cannes, Fabio Grassadonia's and Antonio Piazza's mafia film Salvo.

From Romania, one of the most interesting film countries of the past few years, we have Călin Peter Netzer's Golden Bear winner Child's Pose (Poziția copilului). Kazakhstan is represented by another Berlinale award winner, Emir Baigazin's remarkable debut feature Harmony Lessons (Уроки гармонии / Uroki garmonii).

Margarethe von Trotta, one of the masters of contemporary German cinema, has completed the final instalment in her trilogy of films about historical female heroes. The life of social scientist and philosopher Hannah Arendt provides the subject matter for von Trotta's latest film, titled after the heroine played by Barbara Sukowa. Another recently completed trilogy is the Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl's controversial Paradise suite. Espoo Ciné has the honour of premiering the three films, Paradise: Love, Faith and Hope, as a complete whole in Finland.

Spanish titles confirmed to the programme so far include last year's smash hit, Pablo Berger's black and white silent feature Blancanieves. The film that has charmed both audiences and the critics with its version of the story of Snow White set in the world of bullfights and matadors, and won no less than 10 Goya awards.

Kiss & Cry

Espoo Ciné collaborates this year with Helsinki Festival in a unique experimental performance: Belgian artists Jaco Van Dormael and Michèle Anne Mey arrive in Tapiola with a magic live film Kiss & Cry, a performance that combines film with dance, music, spoken word and theatre. In Kiss & Cry the stage in front of the silver screen is filled by a world of miniature sets where the artists dance with their fingers a nano-performance that is simultaneously shot on video and projected on the screen. Definitely an unforgettable experience not to be missed!