‘Triangle of Sadness’ star Charlbi Dean is remembered at Finnish festival

‘Triangle of Sadness’ star Charlbi Dean is remembered at Finnish festival

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Finland’s leading film festival, Love & Anarchy, is ready to celebrate its 35th edition, free from COVID restrictions and finally able to focus on the films and the audience, says Executive Director Anna Möttölä in Helsinki. But it was a bittersweet time, marked by the December loss of Jean-Luc Godard and Lina Wertmüller, whose 1973 film gave the event its name.

While Wertmüller is being celebrated with a screening of “Seven Beauties”, the team has another tragedy in mind: the sudden death of Charlbi Dean, the star of Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner – and the opening film of the festival – “Triangle of Sadness.”

“It will be a commemorative display,” says artistic director Pekka Lanerva. Dean’s co-star, Zlatko Burić, is expected to attend.

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Anna Möttölä, Pekka Lanerva

“All our thoughts go out to her family and to the cast and crew. To have such a promising career, not to mention a young life, cut so short… We want to honor her and the work she did in this film,” added Möttölä.

The festival will also cover another weighty topic: the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While the event has not officially banned Russian films, they will not be screened this year.

“We condemn the Russian attack on Ukraine,” Möttölä said.

“We want to focus on Ukrainian films. Give them our full attention, as they could be sidelined in the debate over banning Russian titles. They should be at the center of the discussion.”

In April, the festival held a nationwide fundraiser event, with 15 cinemas and organizers in 14 cities accepting their invitation to screen Maryna Er Gorbach’s ‘Klondike’. The initiative raised €11,000, which was then donated to the Finnish Red Cross and UNICEF.

Now, in the Framing Ukraine section, compiled with the Ukrainian Film Days in Helsinki, L&A shows ‘Butterfly Vision’ and ‘Pamfir’ among others.

“We are not afraid to take a stand and are willing to also talk about this decision, the decision not to show Russian films,” argues Möttölä.

“Every program choice makes a statement, political or otherwise. One of our most important principles is that art cannot be separated from politics. It is part of human life and of society.”

“Our main role is also not to talk, but to present films from people who have already made strong political statements. That’s what we do,” adds Lanerva.

The focus on vulnerable or underrepresented groups is part of the legacy of the event, he notes, welcoming LGBTQ+ movies all the way back to the 1990s. Visual artist Minna Havukainen’s latest offering “Puutarha” will continue the tradition.

“When I spoke to the filmmaker, she said it should also work as a cinematic experience and I agreed. It’s a celebration of sexual kinkyness,” notes Lanerva.

Showcasing unusual Finnish titles also remains crucial, especially as – says Lanerva – local production and financing remain conservative and mainstream.

“Finnish film has been doing well for over 20 years – it’s time to recognize that there is now a different audience. It happened to [Finnish Oscar submission] ‘Girl Picture’ or ‘Memory of Water’, science fiction arthouse film.”

As well as Mikko Myllylahti’s ‘The Woodcutter Story’, the opener of the industry’s Finnish film affair, and Anna Eriksson’s dark experiment ‘W’, previously screened in Locarno.

“She is absolutely original to the Finnish scene. It’s great to celebrate that,” says Möttölä. Also mentioning “exciting new talent” Aino Suni, now behind “Heartbeast”.

With the African Express section – curated in collaboration with Think Africa and Ubuntu Film Club – including films from Morocco and Tunisia, a buzzing micro-budget scene from countries like Uganda or the afro-futuristic “Neptune Frost”, it’s all about collaboration for the party that has served as the main launch pad for arthouse films in Finland, she adds. One that forgoes world premieres for tried and true titles that have a better chance of satisfying its audience.

“In smaller countries, it’s all interconnected. Cinemas, distributors, filmmakers: we all work together, because when one suffers, everyone is affected. Yet the same spirit of love and anarchy, of having a little sharpness, remains,” Möttölä notes.

“Our main task is to enrich the film culture in Finland. So no pressure!”

Love & Anarchy will end on September 25th.

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