Wednesday 6 December at 7.30pm: Gala Opening: Aki Kaurismäki’s Lights In the Dusk (Laitakaupungin valot) –
Aki Kaurismäki, Finland’s most acclaimed contemporary director, follows his international hits Drifting Clouds and The Man Without a Past with Lights In the Dusk (Finland 2006, 78 min) a beguiling exploration of loneliness on the cold faceless streets of Helsinki. A world-weary security guard becomes involved with a beautiful, callous femme fatale and her Russian gangster boyfriend, and ultimately loses both his job and his dreams.
Friday 8 December at 6.00pm: Frozen Land (Paha maa) and Barbican ScreenTalk with Aku Louhumies
Acclaimed at film festivals around the world, Aku Louhumies’ intense and fast-paced Frozen Land (Finland 2004,130 min) explores the interwoven lives of a computer hacker, a politically active student, and a down-at-heal alcoholic, and how a chain reaction of downwardly spiralling events begins after one of them forges a 500 euro note. Aku Louhumies will give a Barbican ScreenTalk following the screening.
Saturday 9 December at 11.00am Family Film Club: Pelicanman (Pelikanni Mies) Young audiences at film festivals worldwide have been enchanted by Liisa Helminem’ award winning fantasy tale, Pelicanman (Finland 2004, 89 min, cert U)). Ten years old and full of imagination, only Emil can see that the new stranger in town is actually a pelican, disguised in human form in order to understand us better. Emil and Pelicanman help each other through a series of increasingly daring escapades… It’s not always easy to be the new pelican on the block.
Saturday 9 December at 2pm: Mother of Mine (Äideistä parhain)
During the Second World War over 70,000 war children were sent from Finland to Sweden, Denmark and Norway in the biggest evacuation of children ever undertaken in the world. Klaus Härö’s Mother of Mine (Finland 2005,111 min), the first Finnish feature film to explore the fate of these war children, is set in 1943, in war-torn Finland. Nine-year-old Eero´s father is killed on the front, and his mother makes the painful decision to send him to safety in Sweden. Eero´s foster mother welcomes him to her home but not to her heart. Eero doesn´t speak any Swedish and feels unwelcome in the foster family while missing his mother terribly. All the long-awaited letters from his mother are kept from him, but one day he accidentally discovers a letter which he was not supposed to read…
Saturday 9 December at 4.15pm: Frozen City (Valkoinen kaupunki)
Frozen City (Finland 2006 Dir. Aku Louhimies 92 min) follows the fate of taxi driver Veli-Matti, who has been abandoned by his wife and convicted of a drunken manslaughter which he cannot remember committing. Set in a dark and frozen Helsinki, this simply executed yet powerful drama, focuses on a father’s unconditional love for his children and his desperate need to hold on to his family as his world falls apart.
Saturday 9 December at 6.15pm: The River (Joki)
Jarmo Lampela’s outstanding The River (Finland 2001, 104 min) weaves together six stories on a Saturday morning in a small, rural Finnish town. When a woman tries to drown herself and her child in a nearby river, a trail of interconnected episodes unfolds. Director Jarmo Lampela beautifully captures the essence of everyday Finnish life, as he explores issues of chance, coincidence, loneliness and love, and asserts his place as one of Finland’s most exciting directors.
Sunday 10 December at 2.00pm: Drifting Clouds (Kauas pilvet karkaavat)
Aki Kaurismäki’s trilogy (of which Lights in the Dusk is the final chapter) was launched in 1996 with his moving and optimistic Drifting Clouds (Finland 1996, 96 min), which is packed with typical Kaurismäki motifs, including exquisitely composed images, imaginative music track (Kaurismäki has used tango sequences throughout his twelve feature films) and sparse use of dialogue.
Sunday 10 December at 4.00pm – The Man Without A Past
The second in Kaurismäki’s trilogy The Man Without A Past (Finland 2002,97 min) is a warm, funny and profound affirmation of human relationships and values. After arriving in Helsinki a man is violently mugged, and awakes to find he is suffering from memory loss. He is taken in and cared for by a poor family living in an old metal freight container by the docks, and falls in love with a Salvation Army soup kitchen worker. Devoid of the baggage of his emotional and psychological past, he starts to rebuild his life.
Sunday 10 December at 6.00pm: On The Road To Emmaus (Emmauksen tiellä)
As Rane returns through the poetically beautiful Finnish countryside to his childhood home, he encounters faces from his past, strange meetings and twists in the paths. Filmed Dogme-style and self-referentially, with actors moving in and out of character to address each other and their audience, On The Road To Emmaus (Finland 2001, 80 min) has had Finnish audiences locked in debate.
Monday 11 December at 6.15pm: Beauty and the Bastard (Tyttö sinä olet tähti)
Shakespearean misunderstandings, classic choruses advising young lovers, and a soundtrack straight from the streets have made Beauty and the Bastard (Finland 2005 Dir. Dome Karukoski 102 min) a huge hit with young Finns. Nelli a med-school student dreams about a singing career. Sune, a tough and talented hip-hop DJ is afraid of women. Sune makes a bet that he can get Nelli to sleep with him and while his friends don´t believe a beauty like her would even spit Sune´s way, Nelli sees an opportunity for a foot in the door of the music industry.
Tuesday 12 December at 6.15pm: The 3 Rooms Of Melancholia (Melancholian 3 huonetta) plus Barbican ScreenTalk with Pirjo Honkasalo
The elegantly paced, observational documentary The 3 Rooms Of Melancholia (Finland 2004 Dir. Pirjo Honkasalo 85 min) reveals how the Chechen War has affected children in both Russia and in Chechnya. Russian children are filmed at Kronstadt near St. Petersburg, where they are being trained as child soldiers. Chechen children are filmed in Ingushetia, in a family which consists of 75 orphans who have been salvaged from the ruins of a devastated Grozny. All of their parents were killed by the Russian ‘soldiers’ – possibly the very children in uniform being trained at Kronstadt. Pirjo Honkasalo will give a Barbican ScreenTalk following the screening.
Tuesday 12 December at 8pm: Revolution (Kenen joukoissa seisot)
The idealism and optimism of young people in Finland in the 1960s and ’70s created a youth culture where a better world seemed just around the corner and socialism seemed like a real alternative. Songs played a central role in this revolution, and hundreds of radical singing groups sprung up. The songs told stories of battles and solidarity, of Chile and Vietnam. Now forty years later and more, the middle-aged former revolutionaries reform their groups and return to their combat songs. Brimming with music, archive footage and contemporary interviews, Revolution (Finland 2006 Dir. Jouko Aaltonen 80 min) captures the spirit of an age, and asks the question, what happens to the idealism of youth?