Finnish Film Week will celebrate its 25th anniversary since the event was held for the first time in St. Petersburg with an expanded version of the film festival, which will be shown at four theaters in the city.
Organized by the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg, The Finnish Film Foundation, the National Audiovisual Institute of Finland and Eldoradio, Finnish Film Week has grown to be popular over the years with St. Petersburg audiences, which may have a found kindred spirit in the films’ Nordic restraint and quiet humor.
Opening at Avrora on Friday with “Lights in the Dusk,” Aki Kaurismäki’s 2006 drama about the misadventures of a night watchman, Finnish Film Week will feature a program of 11 new films, a selection of documentaries and a retrospective of films shown during the event in past years.
Director Samuli Valkama will come to St. Petersburg to present his 2013 film “No Thank You.” Based on the novel by Anna-Leena Härkönen, “No Thank You” is about a dysfunctional marriage in which the wife wants to have sex but the husband always finds reasons not to, spending his time playing video games and on the Internet. Valkama will speak and answer questions after the screening at Avrora at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22.
The festival’s other guest is director Arto Halonen, whose dark comedy “A Patriotic Man” will be followed by a Q&A session with the director at Avrora at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23. Set in the 1980s, the film follows Toivo, who is unemployed, non-athletic and overweight, but he becomes indispensable for the Finnish national ski team as his blood is rich in oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Joining the team’s technical division as a secret human blood-tank, Toivo experiences problems with his conscience but receives handsome bonuses and is told that this is his mission as a patriot. Additionally, he finds that he cannot resist the charms of a beautiful skier. Tests for blood doping were not implemented until the 2000s.
Finnish Film Week was first launched in 1989. It was held then in the now-defunct Leningrad movie theater and a number of cultural centers.
“If for the first 10 years we did our best to offer new films made in Finland, after the first 10 years we have been showing only the best films,” Finnish Film Week program director Alexei Dunayevsky told The St. Petersburg Times this week.
“That means films that have won awards; we always show films that were praised at international film festivals and we show box-office hits in Finland, and, of course, in some ways we rely on our 25 years of experience.”