Fiacha Harrington asks Janne Sundqvist, the publicist for the Helsinki International Film Festival, to choose his 10 most personal films from this year’s festival.
I ask Janne Sundqvist, the publicist for the Helsinki International Film Festival to choose his 10 most personal films from this year’s festival. Here is what Janne came up with, his choices highlight just how diverse a field of movies there are to choose from this year.
WITHIN OUR GATES (1920)
Oscar Micheaux was the first African American feature film director of both silent and sound film. Within Our Gates is his masterpiece, a forgotten classic of African American cinema. Filmed only five years after D.W. Griffith‘s Birth of a Nation gave rise to the Ku Klux Klan and the legitimacy of racist ideologies in the USA, this film was made to be its counter-piece, a truthful representation of African American life of its era.
TRUE HISTORY OF KELLY GANG (2020)
Australian director Justin Kurzel is back with a punk rendition of one of his home country’s most notorious outlaws of the 19th century. The biopic of Ned Kelly is a violent postmodern work of art full of energy, thoughts concerning history and personal legacy as well as interesting anachronistic aesthetics.
MOGUL MOWGLI (2020)
Riz Ahmed plays a Pakistan-rapper who gets a life-threatening medical diagnosis when he’s on the verge of a breakthrough in this energetic feel good film full of energy, music and deliberations on identity.
LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST (2019)
Alexandre O. Philippe‘s documentary on The Exorcist is basically an in-depth interview with the film’s director William Friedkin. What makes it stand out is the sincerity of Friedkin’s recollections and the power of his imagination. I promise you, after listening to Friedkin’s stories for the length of this film, you are left craving for even more. At HIFF Leap of Faith is paired with the director’s cut of The Exorcist.
THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS (2020)
This Sundance favorite is a charming documentary about the last truffle hunters of Piedmonte, Italy. Following the work and silent life of several octogenarian truffle legends, the film becomes a tale of something that we are losing (and have perhaps already completely lost) in our hectic modern societies. The Truffle Hunters also showcases the best innovation in the history of cinema, a snout-cam that lets us see what the truffle hunt looks like from a dog’s perspective.
BEWARE OF CHILDREN (2019)
Norwegian Dag Johan Haugerud‘s intelligent drama starts with an act of violence in a school-yard and shows how it shakes a well-off neighborhood in Oslo. It follows the involved kids’ parents who are of opposing political views, but leaves them as side characters to the kids’ teacher and the school’s principal, who have their own issues with their responsibilities. The film asks why we put so many expectations on kids when we ourselves so often can’t act as adults should.
QUEEN & SLIM (2019)
A date goes horribly wrong when an African American couple gets pulled over by the police. An outlaw road movie gets a lot of energy from being told from the perspective of the African American experience. Full of tension, the film is not only very topical but also a cinematic masterpiece that begs to be seen in a cinema.
THE PAINTED BIRD (2020)
Another cinematic masterwork is this Czech film adaptation of Jerzy Kosinski‘s novel. It follows a young Jewish boy through all the imaginable horrors of the holocaust. Not for everyone, and especially not for the faint of heart, it is a very cruel film but also rewarding for a demanding cinephile.
A REGULAR WOMAN (2019)
A German film about the true-life honour killing of a Berlin woman of Turkish background gives voice to the victim, painting an almost documentary-like picture of what happened before the murder. Looking very close at the family dynamics of the victim and the perpetrator, the film shows the protagonists in a very intimate fashion, making for an unapologetic story that insists on its viewers to not ignore the tragedies happening among us.
Finnish director Hamy Ramezan goes back to his memories as a refugee kid in his first feature film that tells the story of an Iranian family seeking asylum in Finland. The greatest thing is that the film refuses to define its subjects as refugees, showing them as complete humans instead, thus painting a beautiful and hugely identifiable picture of a family going through life’s wonders and disappointments
For more information in both English and Finnish please head over to the festival website