Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Sixth Film and Light Festival in Ylistaro, 15-18 Nov 2012

Filmiä ja valoa -elokuvafestivaali, Matin-Tupa, Puhelinkuja 4, 61400 Ylistaro, Finland. www.matin-tupa.fi, www.filmiajavaloa.fi

I board the Pendolino express train that will take me from Helsinki to Seinäjoki in two hours and 50 minutes. I have been travelling this stretch ever since I was a baby 57 years ago, and never has it been this fast. The broadband connection on the train is good, too, enabling me to write my blog remarks about yesterday. It is interesting to discover connections between films that seem to have nothing in common like La Guerre est déclarée (the Swedish title is the best: Slåss för livet = Fight for Life) and the last Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn Part 2.

For the first time I'm about to visit the Filmiä ja valoa elokuvafestivaali (Film and Light Festival), organized for the sixth time at the cinema Matin-Tupa in Ylistaro in the bleakest time of the year, before snowfall. Ylistaro is a little community in Southern Pohjanmaa, and Matin-Tupa, seating 200, is a cinema with a great spirit well-known all over Finland, run by Mr. Anssi Luoma and his dedicated family staff professionally, but not for a living; everybody has another occupation for that. Apparently when the year is good there is no financial loss for this enterprising cinema the operation of which is based on a great love for films. Matin-Tupa programs the latest hits such as Skyfall and Twilight, but Mr. Luoma is also a devoted film historian and collector, a good contact for KAVA. Mr. Luoma has the second biggest collection of posters in Finland (the biggest being at KAVA), with some 20.000 posters.

The digital transition has been a very good thing for Matin-Tupa because now a big premiere movie can open on the national premiere day - which is today often the international premiere day (Skyfall, Twilight). Even a three week delay can be fatal in a cinema like this where people may want to drive to Seinäjoki or Vaasa to catch the big new film immediately if it's not available nearer. Now they may prefer the neighbourhood screen.

The star guest visited Ylistaro yesterday, the great young writer Sofi Oksanen, who met the audience to introduce her new novel Kun kyyhkyset katosivat [When the Doves Disappeared] and the movie adaptation of her previous novel Puhdistus / Purge. I have been invited for today's introduction of the same movie. My presentation has the title Menneisyyden varjot / Shadows of the Past, and my starting point is in Pekka Tarkka's remarks when he gave the Finlandia Award to Sofi Oksanen for Puhdistus - the concept of catharsis. My theme is the power of catharsis in the cinema when dealing with traumatic events of the past.

The Ylistaro festival includes previews of Finnish films (Juoppohullun päiväkirja / The Diary of a Drunken Maniac), previews of foreign films (Haute cuisine), and local documentary films about maintaining a movable bridge that needed to be removed during the breaking up of ice, and about a particularly tragic battle in 1941 where many local men fell. Those movies, based on interviews, photographs, and 16 mm and 8 mm footage, are invaluable with their memory links to a world that is disappearing. The highlight is the live cinema concert on Sunday 18 November, 2012, at 15.00, of Pohjalaisia (the silent film adaptation from 1925), the music composed and played by the master organist Kalevi Kiviniemi.

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