Sunday, September 23, 2018

Cynthia Lucia and Rahul Hamid: Cineaste on Film Criticism, Programming, and Preservation in the New Millennium (a book)

Cynthia Lucia and Rahul Hamid: Cineaste on Film Criticism, Programming, and Preservation in the New Millennium. Austin: University of Texas Press, November 2017. 392 p. ISBN: 978-1-4773-1341-1

A stunning survey on film culture during its biggest period of turbulence. I have been reading this book over a period of several months, as slowly as that since all the contributions are highly charged with important observations. Because I don't want to favour any contributor I simply copy the list of contents below with its roll of honour of critics, programmers and preservation experts.

In Finland the number of professional cultural journalists has dropped by 90% in ten years, and a similar thing has happened everywhere. There is more writing on the cinema than ever, but that is amateur criticism, not professional, paid activity with which anyone could earn a living.

The concerns of programmers and preservationists are closely linked. The digital revolution is wonderful for distribution, but there is no solution as yet for digital preservation, because no digital file is durable. Film prints stayed around for decades, but access to DCPs is usually counted in months.

This book I would recommend to every film critic and programmer. The problems of film preservation in the digital age have been discussed many times elsewhere, but the relevant dossier in this book is marvellously compact and many-sided, and likely to be rewarding even for preservation experts.

Part I. Film Criticism in the New Millennium

        1. Film Criticism in America Today: A Critical Symposium (2000). By David Ansen, Jay Carr, Godfrey Cheshire, Mike Clark, Manohla Dargis, David Denby, Morris Dickstein, Roger Ebert, David Edelstein, Graham Fuller, J. Hoberman, Stanley Kauffmann, Stuart Klawans, Todd McCarthy, Peter Rainer, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Andrew Sarris, Richard Schickel, Lisa Schwarzbaum, John Simon, David Sterritt, Peter Travers, Kenneth Turan, Armond White

        2. International Film Criticism Today: A Critical Symposium (2005). By Argentina: Quintín (Eduardo Antin); Australia: Adrian Martin; Austria: Christoph Huber; Brazil: Pedro Butcher; China: Li Hongyu; France: Michel Ciment; France: Jean-Michel Frodon; Germany: Olaf Möller; Greece: Angelike Contis; Hong Kong: Li Cheuk-to; India: Meenakshi Shedde; Italy: Tullio Kezich; Italy: Roberto Silvestri; Japan: Tadao Sato; Mexico: Leonardo García Tsao; Philippines: Noel Vera; Russia: Lev Karakhan; South Africa: Leon van Nierop; Thailand: Kong Rithdee; Tunisia: Tahar Chikhaoui; United Kingdom: Jonathan Romney; Uruguay: Jorge Jellinek

        3. Film Criticism in the Age of the Internet: A Critical Symposium (2008). By Zach Campbell, Robert Cashill, Mike D’Angelo, Steve Erickson, Andrew Grant, J. Hoberman, Kent Jones, Glenn Kenny, Robert Koehler, Kevin B. Lee, Karina Longworth, Adrian Martin, Adam Nayman, Theodoros Panayides, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Dan Sallitt, Richard Schickel, Campaspe, Girish Shambu, Michael Sicinski, Amy Taubin, Andrew Tracy, Stephanie Zacharek

        4. Film Criticism: The Next Generation: A Critical Symposium (2013). By Ben Kenigsberg, Gabe Klinger, Michael Koresky, Kiva Reardon, Andrew Tracy

        5. “I Still Love Going to Movies”: An Interview with Pauline Kael (2000). By Leonard Quart

        6. Cult Films, Commentary Tracks, and Censorious Critics: An Interview with John Bloom (2003). By Gary Crowdus

Part II. The Art of Repertory Film Exhibition and Digital-Age Challenges

        7. Repertory Film Programming: A Critical Symposium (2010). By John Ewing, John Gianvito, Bruce Goldstein, Haden Guest, Jim Healy, Kent Jones, Laurence Kardish, Marie Losier, Richard Peña, James Quandt, David Schwartz, Adam Sekuler, Dylan Skolnick, Tom Vick

        8. Utopian Festivals and Cinephilic Dreams: An Interview with Peter von Bagh (2012). By Richard Porton

        9. The (Cinematic) Gospel According to Mark: An Interview with Mark Cousins (2013). By Declan McGrath

Part III. Film Preservation in the Digital Age

        10. Film Preservation in the Digital Age: A Critical Symposium (2011). By Schawn Belston, Margaret Bodde, Paolo Cherchi Usai, Grover Crisp, Dennis Doros and Amy Heller, Jan-Christopher Horak, Annette Melville, Michael Pogorzelski, Katie Trainor, Daniel Wagner

        11. MOD Man: An Interview with George Feltenstein (2011). By Robert Cashill. [MOD = manufacturing-on-demand].

Pekka Tarkka: Onnen Pekka / [Lucky Peter] (a book)

Pekka Tarkka: Onnen Pekka. Muistelmia / [Lucky Peter. Memoirs]. Helsinki: Otava, 2018. 575 p., ISBN: 9789511288114

When I started to understand anything about anything, around 1965–1966, Olof Lagercrantz was the editor-in-chief, with a special emphasis on culture, in Dagens Nyheter, the biggest and best newspaper in the Nordic countries.

Lagercrantz's ambition was the greatest possible: the newspaper could be a cultural and political force with full coverage on all aspects of culture and a lively debate section with conflicting views on topics of the greatest importance. It was electrifying, and although I was only a schoolboy, it was impossible not to be influenced by this spirit of grandeur.

The same spirit inspired also Finnish newspapers. My father at the time held a job whose benefits included subscriptions of over ten newspapers, many magazines, and access to all books: he was editor-in-chief of a magazine with an extensive coverage of books.

I spent a lot of time reading those papers, also learning Swedish from Dagens Nyheter and Hufvudstadsbladet. Those were wonderful years to read the cultural sections in both countries. (And I understand also in other Nordic countries).

Pekka Tarkka was a key figure in that glorious period, in newspapers such as Uusi Suomi and Helsingin Sanomat. During his years Helsingin Sanomat even surpassed Dagens Nyheter. Little could anyone have anticipated that the inability to adjust to the internet revolution and the listing of Sanoma in the stock exchange in 1999 would reduce the formerly magnificent newspaper to a shadow of its former self.

The same thing happened in all Nordic countries. An important survey, and a well-known university textbook, is Tomas Forser's Kritik av kritiken, about the "journalistization" and tabloidization of the cultural sections.

But a period of grandeur will remain as a challenge for the future. What was possible then must be possible to achieve again.

I don't agree with everything and don't even understand all terms in Mr. Tarkka's excellent book, for instance about the political bubbles of the period. For me, the key years politically would be 1958 and 1964. Much is still unknown, much left unsaid.

Pekka Tarkka finishes his memoirs in the 1980s when he resigned from his position as the head of the cultural section in Helsingin Sanomat. He focuses on the happy years until then. This is a rich and rewarding book with profound insight in cultural history and amusing anecdotes on fascinating figures. This book is also a great piece of literature.


Kari Glödstaf: 1000 mykkäelokuvaa / [1000 Silent Films] (a book)

Kari Glödstaf: 1000 mykkäelokuvaa. Sirpaleita elokuvan kulta-ajalta. Turku: Kustantamo Helmivyö, 2018. Soft cover, 444 p., book on demand, also available on webstores, see the publisher's site, ISBN 978-952-7211-23-6

In Finland Kari Glödstaf is a well-known connoisseur and expert of silent cinema, author of three books on the subject, and curator and advisor on silent cinema for two Finnish silent film festivals: The Forssa Silent Film Festival and the Loud Silents in Tampere. Since 2005 Mr. Glödstaf has also run his own blog with regular reviews on silent film releases.

The "1000 films / books / records you need to see / read / listen to before you die" concept has been popular in recent decades. I am myself an early representative (I had models but not aware of any predecessor with a "one thousand" concept) in this trend with my 1995 guide of 1000 films for the centenary of the cinema.

As far as I know Kari Glödstaf is unique in compiling a guide of 1000 silent films. It's amazing to observe that such an endeavour is worthwhile. The silent film revival which started with the 1978 FIAF Brighton Congress and Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon resurrection and the Brownlow-Gill television series Hollywood: The Pioneers has continued and expanded with such a result that today we have a better overview in silent cinema than during any year of the cinema's silent period itself. Although by far most of the silent films are believed lost.

I admire Kari Glödstaf's truly global approach, covering everything from Hollywood to China, and from Russia to Australia.

The crucial decision is about covering short films. Most of the silent films were short. Almost all were short during the first 20 years. Mr. Glödstaf has restricted himself to features with a few exceptions such as The Trip to the Moon, Chess Fever and Un chien andalou. Thus, no Edison, no Lumière, no R. W. Paul, no Chomón, hardly any comedy shorts... I totally agree with this decision. There are so many great silent shorts that it is not possible to do justice to them in a book devoted to 1000 films.


Kristin Thompson, David Bordwell: Film History. An Introduction. Fourth Edition (2018) (a book)

Kristin Thompson, David Bordwell: Film History: An Introduction. Fourth Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018. 780 p., 28 cm, ISBN: 9781260084856.

Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell's Film History, originally published in 1994, is now in its fourth edition, thoroughly updated. It tells the full story from early cinema (and pre-cinema) to the latest digital developments. A U.S. bias is obvious and transparent, but this is a genuinely global story, paying attention to all film-producing continents.

I will not have read all these large 780 pages any time soon, but I register the amazing update of a reliable textbook. I have consulted our library copy and will need to acquire a personal copy probably in the loose leaf format (130 USD) which I then will need to put into a binder.

David Bordwell is one of my favourite commentators on the digital revolution. Pandora's Digital Box (2012) is one of the key overviews of the great change. I take a liberty of copying a sample from Film History, in the belief of acting fairly, as this is the excerpt published by Thompson & Bordwell themselves in their blog Observations on Film Art:

Kristin Thompson, David Bordwell: Film History Fourth Edition (2018), p. 723: "Digital convergence worked hand in hand with global­ization and the power of the American studios. The top Hollywood pictures were successful in most countries, and they could be delivered on many platforms. But in the swift media churn, with new formats coming up all the time, would traditional filmmaking die?"

"Evidently not. For one thing, the number of feature films was surging. In 2002, the world made over 4,000 fea­ture films. In 2016, that number was over 7600. This vast output included blockbusters, modest independent films, and every form in between. The boom took place in the face of home video, cable, satellite, DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, and streaming. It happened despite the fact that a handful of American blockbusters ruled nearly every national market."

"But perhaps theaters, the public side of film culture, were in danger? Just the opposite. Screen growth was robust through the 2010s. In 2016, the world had over 163,000 screens. Even without counting the millions of television monitors, computers, and mobile devices, there were far more movie screens than ever before. And plenty of people wanted to visit them. The year 2015 set a record high in worldwide attendance, 7.4 billion admis­sions. This amounted to about one ticket for every man, woman, and child on Earth."

"Digital convergence, boosted by globalization, encour­aged the spread of cinema. Personal computers, the Inter­net, mobile phones, game consoles, tablets, and portable music devices initially could not display films, but all were eventually adjusted to do that. Film wriggled its way into every media device that came along. From broadcast tele­vision and videotape to DVD and streaming, films spread beyond the theater. They entered our living rooms and went with us anywhere. Today, more people are watching more hours of motion pictures than at any other time in history. As newer technologies emerge, we suspect that they too will serve the cinematic traditions that have devel­oped over 120 years."
Kristin Thompson, David Bordwell: Film History Fourth Edition (2018), p. 723

Joseph McBride: How Did Lubitsch Do It?

Joseph McBride: How Did Lubitsch Do It? New York: Columbia University Press, 2018. 576 p.

This is a book I have been looking forward to, and as soon as I had it in my hands it bypassed all others. I love Joseph McBride's books on Hawks, Ford, Welles, Spielberg, and (with reservations) Capra.

Lubitsch is a different subject altogether, perhaps the most difficult director to assess. Many have tried, and I have enjoyed them all. Herman G. Weinberg's The Lubitsch Touch is not only my favourite book on the director but one of my favourite books in general. Weinberg created a Lubitsch companion in the spirit of the master. He saw these films when they were new and conveys something of the flavour of their original reception, including of films now lost.

Weinberg was also a friend of Lubitsch, and he refrained from discussing his private life. Later biographers have no such hindrances. McBride writes with insight about the discrepancy of the master of romantic comedy being unhappy in his personal love life.

At his most rewarding McBride is in his extended and original discussions of Lubitsch's films. They include some of the best writing about them. He brings the films to life on the page, and illuminates convincingly why they are timeless.

Inevitably, he also writes about the term "the Lubitsch touch" which Lubitsch himself and most others have rejected: there is no such thing. Myself, I find it useful as long as it is not over-used. For me, a Lubitsch touch is a moment of mordant cinematic wit, a dark illumination seasoned with a tender sense of generosity. Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, and many others were influenced, but only Ernst Lubitsch himself possessed the secret, and even for Lubitsch himself it was probably not conscious and certainly not calculated.

I have also been involved in an Ernst Lubitsch book project. In 1987 we screened at Cinema Orion the first complete Ernst Lubitsch retrospective in Finland. I wrote the program notes and took further notes of all the films; I usually saw them twice. Peter von Bagh took notes, as well, wrote many wonderful pages, and suggested that we should write a book together. But he had also 15 other book projects in development, and this one was shelved.

We were a bit tired of the "Erotikon – A Woman of Paris – The Marriage Circle" narrative about the genesis of Lubitsch's mature style, based on Weinberg. But McBride now states the case of Erotikon as Lubitsch's greatest influence more powerfully than anyone, based on the statements of Billy Wilder to Cameron Crowe and others. Having seen Erotikon, "That was when Lubitsch became Lubitsch" (Billy Wilder).

A chapter important in American cinema that McBride decides to omit is the genre of the sophisticated comedy of the 1920s, directly inspired by Chaplin and Lubitsch, with directors such as Monta Bell, Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast, Paul Bern, and Malcolm St. Clair.

Mostly I agree with McBride about the favourite Lubitsch films. One Hour With You I rate much higher than he. For McBride it is an inferior remake of The Marriage Circle. For me, it's a wonderful and original musical. Peter von Bagh appreciated the "Brechtian" approach of Maurice Chevalier's interpretation. At Midnight Sun Film Festival, Paul Morrissey chose it as the film he would take to the desert island.

That Uncertain Feeling is another film that leaves McBride without enthusiasm. (It is also a remake, this time about a lost masterpiece, Kiss Me Again, found by many as Lubitsch's best film). I happen to like also That Uncertain Feeling very much, probably due to the fact that it was one of the first films I possessed on VHS video. I proudly showed it many times to friends, and it kept getting funnier. Egészségére!

A wonderful book, but the manuscript would have benefitted from one more round of editing. There are needless repetitions as the text stands now.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Zimna wojna / Cold War

Cold War / Cold War.
    PL/FR/GB © 2018 Opus Film Sp. z o.o. / Apocalypso Pictures Cold War Limited / MK Productions / ARTE France Cinéma / The British Film Institute / Channel Four Television Corporation / Canal+ / EC1 Łódź / Mazowiecki Instytut Kultury / Instytucja Filmowa Silesia Film / Kino Świat / Wojewódzki Dom Kultury w Rzeszowie.
    P: Tanya Seghatchian, Ewa Puszczyńska.
    D: Paweł Pawlikowski (story, direction, image). SC: Paweł Pawlikowski and Janusz Głowacki with the collaboration of Piotr Borkowski. DP: Łukasz Żal – b&w – 1,37:1 – camera: Arri Alexa XT – source format: ARRIRAW 3,4 K – master format: digital intermediate 4K. PD: Katarzyna Sobańska, Marcel Sławiński. Cost: Aleksandra Staszko. Hair and make-up: Waldemar Pokromski.
    Jazz and song arrangements: Marcin Masecki. The Jazz Quintet: Piano Marcin Masecki, Saxophonist Luis Nubiola, Double-bass player Piotr Domagalski, Trumpeter Maurycy Idzikowski, Drummer Jerzy Rogiewicz. Under the direction of Marcin Masecki. Soundtrack listing: see previous post (Zimna wojna / Cold War pressbook).
    S: Maciej Pawłowski, Mirosław Makowski. ED: Jarosław Kamiński. Casting: Magdalena Szwarcbart.
Zula / Joanna Kulig
Wiktor / Tomasz Kot
Kaczmarek / Borys Szyc
Irena / Agata Kulesza
Michel / Cèdric Kahn
Juliette / Jeanne Balibar
Consul / Adam Woronowicz
Minister / Adam Ferency
Sleuth 1 / Drazen Sivak
Sleuth 2 / Slavko Sobin
Waitress / Aloïse Sauvage
Guard / Adam Szyszkowski
Ania / Anna Zagórska
Leader of ZMP / Tomasz Markiewicz
Mazurek / Izabela Andrzejak
     89 min
    Premiere in Poland: 8 June 2018.
    Finnish premiere projected: 26 Oct 2018. Released by Finnkino, digital cinema, Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Jaana Wiik / Nina Ekholm.
    Helsinki International Film Festival gala opening, introduced by Anna Möttölä and Pekka Lanerva.
    Viewed at Bio Rex, 20 Sep 2018.

Synopsis from the pressbook: "Cold War is a passionate love story between a man and a woman who meet in the ruins of post-war Poland. With different backgrounds and temperaments, they are fatally mismatched and yet fatefully condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, the couple are separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate – an impossible love story in impossible times."

In his masterpiece Ida Pawel Pawlikowski gave us an account of Poland in the early 1960s, a time of his early childhood. Ida was a tragic story of two women who must come to terms with the twin catastrophes of the holocaust and Stalin's terror.

In Zimna wojna / Cold War the story expands to a longer period of time: 15 years, from 1949 till 1964. Dedicated by the director to his own parents, this is a tragic love story. A tale of a love affair crushed by a brutal government. But also made impossible by the fundamental incompatibility of the lovers. They cannot live without each other. They cannot live with each other.

Zimna wojna / Cold War is chronological, but otherwise it breaks dramatic unities. Cold War must have been a difficult equation for Pawlikowski to solve, but it works like a dream.

Pawlikowski denied having been particularly influenced by Polish New Wave films of the late 1950s and the early 1960s when we made a tribute to him to honour the accomplishment of Ida. There are dozens of distinguished films in the Polish New Wave, many of them waiting re-discovery for the international audiences of today.

The achievement of Ida and Cold War is even more astonishing if Pawlikowski has indeed not been particularly influenced by the Polish New Wave. It must have been in his cultural genes to create this combination of psychological complexity, awareness of a national disaster, affinity to the freedom of jazz, and a penchant for a mise-en-scène opportune to all that. Perhaps the fresh and original approach of his Polish stories is due to his having independently come to solutions that seem to connect with the best traditions of Polish cinema.

The lovers Zula and Wiktor are played by Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot with a sensitive and unpredictable authenticity.

Pawlikowski: ‘Well, this type of relationship that is a bit of a war all the time. Two strong, restless individuals, very unlike each other, two extreme poles. Zula and Wiktor have other lovers, relationships, husbands and wives, but they realise with time that nobody will ever be as close to them as each other, because – for all the historical and geographical comings and goings – nobody knows who they are as well as each other. At the same time, paradoxically, they are the one person they can’t be with.

Zimna wojna / Cold War is also a story about exile. Wiktor cannot stay in Stalin's Poland, but in exile he loses something of his manhood, even in the most concrete way, as observed by Zula. The film critic Matti Rämö sitting next to me remarked that this theme was also discussed by Krzysztof Kieslowski in Three Colours: White.

Wiktor returns to Poland and a long prison service in hard labour. There his arm is injured, making him unable to continue as a pianist ever. It is Thaw, but the change is left unobserved in the movie. Reunited for a brief moment, Zula and Wiktor find a way to join in eternity.

Zimna wojna / Cold War is also a rich film about music, particularly rewarding about Polish folk music and jazz. Pawlikowski intertwines his many musical motifs in multiple ways. Bach and jazz were present in Ida, and so they are also here.

Marcin Masecki is the talented arranger of the jazz and song contributions. It all makes sense. The affection to the folk music is genuine.

An element of ambiguity is introduced by "Kak mnogo devushek horoshih (Serdtse)" from the Alexandrov-Dunayevsky musical Jolly Fellows, a Stalinist comedy with a sense of the absurd. A song belonging to the repertory of both Pussy Riot and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. An aspect of satire intrudes with the Stalin cantata by Alexandrov and the horror film theme conducted by Wiktor in a French film studio.

Fine jazz is heard in Marcin Masecki's piano solos and in the playing of his jazz quintet. Masecki also plays Chopin's Fantaisie impromptu in C sharp minor. Classic jazz from Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Coleman Hawkins is incorporated in the soundtrack. During the end credit dedication to the director's parents we hear Glenn Gould at the Goldberg variations.

The cinematography of Łukasz Żal is brilliant in composition and lighting. The black and white Academy frame does not feel studied. The eerie element is the decision to use digital cinematography in this fashion. Yesterday I saw BlacKkKlansman in which the digital projection retained a juicy and vibrant sense of life. In Zimna wojna / Cold War the airless and lifeless lack of atmosphere connected with a trailer we saw before the feature: Damien Chazelle's First Man and its views of the Moon. This feeling is certainly relevant to the title and the theme of the film.

Zimna wojna / Cold War pressbook

Zimna wojna / Cold War. Joanna Kulig as Zula.

Official selection
Festival de Cannes



in association with PROTAGONIST PICTURES

2018 / Poland-UK-France / 89 mins


Cold War is a passionate love story between a man and a woman who meet in the ruins of post-war Poland. With different backgrounds and temperaments, they are fatally mismatched and yet fatefully condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, the couple are separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate – an impossible love story in impossible times.

Pawlikowski’s most recent film, Ida, was a global success, winning the Oscar and BAFTA for best foreign language film as well as five European Film Awards including best European film, director and screenplay. His other key credits include My Summer Of Love and Last Resort.

The film is a Polish/UK/French production, produced by the writer- director’s long time partners Tanya Seghatchian (My Summer of Love) of Apocalypso Pictures and Ewa Puszczyńska (Ida) from Piotr Dzięciol’s Opus Film (Poland), along with France’s MK Productions.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Cud nad Wisłą / Miracle on the Vistula

Cud nad Wisłą / Miracle on the Vistula. The valiant priest Jan Skorupka leads Polish troops to combat Bolsheviks.

[Ihme Veikselillä]
    PL 1921. PC: Orient-Film. D: Ryszard Bolesławski. SC: Adam Zagórski. CIN: Zbigniew Gniazdowski. AD: Ewelina Librowicz-Mucharska, N. Borowski, Józef Galewski.
    C: Jadwiga Smosarska (Krysta – Maciej Wieruń's daughter), Anna Belina (Ewa – daughter of the hospital caretaker Piotr), Władysław Grabowski (Dr. Jan Powada), Edmund Gasiński (Maciej Wieruń, from Kresów), Leonard Bończa-Stępiński (Boneza / the hospital janitor Piotr), Stefan Jaracz (bolshevik agitator Jan Rudy), Zygmunt Chmielewski, Kazimierz Junosza-Stępowski (bolshevik agent), Honorata Leszczyńska (Mrs. Granowska), Jerzy Leszczyński (Jerzy Granowski), Wincenty Rapacki (father Granowski), Janusz Strachocki (gamekeeper), Bogusław Samborski (Michał, Krysta's brother), Michał Znicz (actor in the theatre troupe).
    Loc: Eastern Kręzy, the battlefield between Poles and bolsheviks 1920.
    The only surviving film where the legendary theatre actors Honorata Leszczyńska and Wincenty Rapacki can be seen on screen.
    Not released in Finland.
    A film in two parts and eight acts. Half of it survives: footage from acts 1, 3, 6, and 8. The Filmoteka Narodowa 2010 digital reconstruction with explanatory titles 44 min
    Introductory lecture by Jarno Hänninen.
    Screened a DCP processed from the Filmoteka Narodowa digital file, with Johanna Pitkänen at the piano and e-subtitles in Finnish by Petteri Kalliomäki, at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Centenary of the Restoration of Polish Independence), 19 Sep 2018

We are celebrating many centenaries, all connected: the First World War, the Russian Revolution, Finnish Independence, Finnish Civil War, Restoration of Polish Independence, Estonian Independence...

This was a rewarding and rounded presentation of Richard Boleslawski's Miracle on the Vistula. Although half of the movie is missing, the Filmoteka Narodowa reconstruction helps make sense of what remains. Jarno Hänninen's informative lecture helped flesh out the turbulent historical context. Petteri Kalliomäki handled the electronic subtitling smoothly. Johanna Pitkänen brought a sense of Polish spirit with her inspired interpretation of Chopin's mazurkas.

I don't remember having seen Boleslawski's silent films before. I was struck by his assured touch all over. I liked already the portrait credit titles. Boleslawski does have a firm sense of mise-en-scène. The lighting is superb as are all aspects of the cinematography by Zbigniew Gniazdowski. The imagery is enchanting. The art titles are stylish. Moving masks and split screens are in use. Memory flashes are conveyed as ingrained superimpositions of faces.

Quite evidently this was a prestige production.

The actors are good, and Boleslawski is a good director of them. He had been a pupil of Konstantin Stanislavski at the Moscow Art Theatre. In 1923 in New York, together with Maria Ouspenskaya, he established the American Laboratory Theatre. Their students included Stella Adler, Harold Clurman, and Lee Strasberg.

With materials as fragmented as these, it is impossible to comment on the storytelling.

As for historical accuracy, it is probably better to consult a good history book. Suffice it to say that the enemy is portrayed in gross caricature, as an incarnation of the Devil. The epic battle scenes are well staged.

A beautiful job of restoration by Filmoteka Narodowa. I like the refined simulation of toning. It looks like this copy has been produced without adjustment to silent speed (the proper speed might be 20 fps). There are music credits in the end titles, but this copy is silent.



BlacKkKlansman / BlacKkKlansman
    US © 2018 Focus Features. Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures present in association with Perfect World Pictures a QC Entertainment / Blumhouse production – a Monkeypaw / 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks production – A Spike Lee joint.
    P: Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele, Spike Lee, Shaun Redick.
    D: Spike Lee. SC: Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee – based on the book Black Klansman (2014) by Ron Stallworth. CIN: Chayse Irvin – colour – 2,39:1 – shot on 35 mm and 16 mm – digital intermediate 4K (master format) – release: D-Cinema. PD: Curt Beech. Cost: Marci Rodgers. M: Terence Blanchard. S: Phil Stockton – Dolby Atmos. ED: Barry Alexander Brown
    C: John David Washington (Ron Stallworth), Adam Driver (Flip Zimmerman), Topher Grace (David Duke), Laura Harrier (Patrice Dumas), Ryan Eggold (Walter Breachway), Jasper Pääkkönen (Felix), Corey Hawkins (Kwame Ture), Paul Walter Hauser (Ivanhoe), Ashlie Atkinson (Connie), Alec Baldwin (Beauregard / Narrator), Harry Belafonte (Jerome Turner).
    134 min
    US premiere, Finnish premiere: 10 Aug 2018.
    DCP with Finnish / Swedish subtitles viewed at Tennispalatsi 8, Helsinki, 19 Sep 2018.

Spike Lee is at his best in BlacKkKlansman.

I have loved Spike Lee's work since She's Gotta Have It and Do the Right Thing. Released by Universal, Do the Right Thing was his breakthrough film in Finland, and next year we screened the independent prodution She's Gotta Have It at Cinema Orion. Other special favourites of mine include Malcolm X and 4 Little Girls, a documentary about the Birmingham Baptist church massacre in 1963 by the Ku Klux Klan.

As a work of political cinema and engaged cinema BlacKkKlansman is of the highest order. It is an account of the black civil rights movement and the transformation of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1970s.

The speech sequence of the civil rights leader Kwame Ture (ex-Stokely Carmichael) is engrossing and compelling. It is one of the best sequences I have seen about radical political movements in the 1970s. An anthology piece of positive energy.

The Ku Klux Klan story feels convincing, too, based on the true story of an undercover detective. Psychologically I can believe in these characters. I knew neo-Nazis in my country at the time. They were complex figures, with a kind of a joking approach, yet fundamentally taking it seriously.

The undercover story of a black Klansman would seem impossible if it were not true. This is not a story like the one in Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor where a black inmate of a lunatic asylum starts race riots in the white hood of a Klansman. Affinities are closer to stories of Jews infiltrating Nazi organizations, even including To Be Or Not To Be.

That association is relevant. Both Ernst Lubitsch and Spike Lee manage something almost impossible: discussing a brutal aspect of history with a profound sense of irony, satire and humour. This is Spike Lee's greatest achievement and I think here he takes a big step forward. Without watering down his case. Instead making it stronger.

BlacKkKlansman is a meta-cinematic film, challenging the great tradition of The Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind. There is also an extended discussion between Ron and Patrice about blaxploitation films of the 1970s. Spike Lee's is the most serious attack ever against The Birth of a Nation, a film which incited the re-birth of the Klan and an outburst of brutal racial violence.

Towards the end we hear in graphic detail the first-hand account of Jerome Turner (Harry Belafonte) of the lynching of Jesse Washington in 1916 – a horrible crime directly provoked by a screening of The Birth of a Nation.

I believe that The Birth of a Nation can provoke such a reaction. I had found the film offensive but harmless until 23 years ago I saw a Centenary of the Cinema screening of a restored version with the engrossing original music played live. The film was better than ever, but also for the first time I was shocked at the horrible implications. I think Spike Lee makes a mistake in sampling inferior material of the film with underwhelming music, although this may be authentic to the way the film was seen in the early 1970s.

As a cop film and an undercover thriller BlacKkKlansman is different and original. In many levels it is about strangers trying to pass in foreign territories: the first black cop in the Colorado Springs force, a cop trying to infiltrate a radical student meeting, a black man trying to join the Ku Klux Klan, his white substitute attempting a double impersonation (both as a cop at the KKK and a Jew standing for a black guy)... this is also a profound and revelatory account about true identities and playing roles. Also the presumed difference between a white and a black person's voices is discussed.

The romantic story reflects this. Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier) suspects Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) from the start, but their reactions are complex. Ron approaches Patrice as an undercover cop, but also as a man genuinely attracted to her, and the feeling is mutual.

BlacKkKlansman is a political film but not un film à these. The main characters are rounded and three-dimensional. Also the account of the police department is complex. Ron meets deeply ingrained racism but also the unconditional support of the force in his outlandish plan to infiltrate the KKK. The account of the esprit de corps if impressive.

The cast is terrific: John David Washington, Adam Driver and Topher Grace are memorable as the male leads. A Finnish talent, Jasper Pääkkönen, gets to play the lunatic Felix, the most fanatic and dangerous KKK member.

My favourite is Laura Harrier as Patrice Dumas, playing her with an Angela Davis approach. There is nothing more beautiful than a fighting woman. Angela Davis was world-famous at the time. Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono were inspired and even dedicated songs to her. Even in Finland there was a "Free Angela Davis" petition campaign. I signed it as a schoolboy.

Visually, BlacKkKlansman is engaging. The DP Chayse Irvin has shot the film on 35 mm and 16 mm, and in the 4K intermediate the rich photochemical quality has been successfully translated into digital.

BlacKkKlansman production notes

A Spike Lee Joint
Running Time: 2 hour 14 minutes

Ron Stallworth…….John David Washington
Flip Zimmerman…….Adam Driver
David Duke…….Topher Grace
Patrice Dumas…….Laura Harrier
Walter Breachway…….Ryan Eggold
Felix…….Jasper Pääkkönen
Kwame Ture…….Corey Hawkins
Ivanhoe…….Paul Walter Hauser
Connie…….Ashlie Atkinson
Beauregard / Narrator…….Alec Baldwin
Jerome Turner…….Harry Belafonte

Directed by…….Spike Lee
Written by.Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
Based on the book Black Klansman by…….Ron Stallworth
Produced by Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele, Spike Lee, Shaun Redick

Table of Contents

I.    Synopsis…….     4
II.    An Incredible True Story Comes to Life…….    5
III.    A Powerful Ensemble Takes Shape…….    6
IV.    The Experience of Making BlacKkKlansman…….    8
V.    It’s Not About the Past – This is a Film For Right Now…….     11
VI.    About the Production…….     12
VII.    Ron Stallworth: In His Own Words…….     15
VIII.    About the Cast…….    17
IX.    About the Filmmakers…….    23
X.    Credits…….    33


Friday, September 14, 2018

Mox Mäkelä: Vieras / Strange

Vieras. Kuunnelmaelokuva. [Strange. An audio play movie].
    FI © 2018 Mox Mäkelä.
    SC+D+ED+CIN+S: Mox Mäkelä.
    Voices: Juha Ekola, Annuska Hannula, Sue Lemström, Eero Ojala, Antti Peltola, Tom Pöysti, and a couple of assistants.
    M: Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Georg Friedrich Händel, Edvard Grieg, Johann Sebastian Bach, John Stafford Smith, François Couperin, Joseph Haydn.   
    Thanks: Mark Landis, Mikko Keinonen, Rauno Lauhakangas, Mekaanisen Musiikin Museo, Kuusakoski Oy.
    111 min
    English subtitles: Lola Rogers.
    Digital: Pro-Res processed as a DCP.
    In the presence of Mox Mäkelä introduced by Tytti Rantanen.
    Screened at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (premiere screening), 14 Sep 2018

Mox Mäkelä is a multi-talented Finnish conceptual artist. Since 1978 she has mounted exhibitions, collages, installations, actions and performances. She has pioneered new approaches in moving images and video projections for environment art. She also creates movies, radioplays and short stories.

Her newest work Vieras / Strange, several years in the making, is an artist's film and a kuunnelmaelokuva which means "an audio play movie". It is sound-driven. Voices and sounds are the engine, followed by visuals.

Certain artists' films are based on duration and minimalism. They are slow and meditative. In contrast, Vieras / Strange is a bounty. It is rich, abundant, generous, full of life, full of detail, full of associations. It offers more food for the mind than an average large art exhibition.

Vieras / Strange is a literate film, so verbal that it could be presented as a radio play. The text would deserve to be published as a book. The English translation is by Lola Rogers, acclaimed as the translator of Sofi Oksanen, among others.

Regarding the theme of the stranger announced in the title, Mox Mäkelä avoids direct and topical references. Associations can run freely from the xenia of Homer and Hesiod to existential estrangement, default condition of the artist.

This movie is not only about the human sphere but very much about the sphere of all living beings. Lions, bears and elephants belong to the cast of characters. As do Beluga whales of the Solovetsky Islands: their voices are part of the soundtrack.

This movie about the chaos of estrangement and dissociation has a particularly warm human presence on the voice track, thanks to talents such as Juha Ekola, Annuska Hannula, Sue Lemström, Eero Ojala, Antti Peltola, and Tom Pöysti.

The visual world is boldly experimental and avantgardistic. Time is compressed, transitions are unexpected, associations unconventional, camera angles surprising, jump cuts possible. In the visual sphere we are constantly removed from the comfort zone. This movie is about seeing differently.

The comfort zone is provided by the compilation music soundtrack which reminds me of the oldest radio programme of Finland (and one of the oldest in the world), "Lauantain toivotut levyt" ("Saturday Record Favourites"). A key melody is "Largo", arranged from the opening aria "Ombra mai fu" of Georg Friedrich Händel's lost opera Serse / Xerxes. It was one of the first tunes of which mechanical recordings were made, and on this soundtrack we hear two of them. ("Largo" is also a powerful and popular funeral theme. We requested it for our mother's funeral three years ago).

The ways to transcendence are mysterious and unpredictable.

Out of the ordinary Mox Mäkelä creates something extraordinary.

This movie is impossible to classify and may border on the unwieldy. But it is deeply felt, engaging, and puts my mind in wandering.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Women in the Cinema of the Sixties (a remark)

Onnenpeli / Game of Luck. Kaisa Korhonen, Anneli Sauli, Eija Pokkinen.

Women in New Wave Cinema is the theme of our series and seminar with Risto Jarva Society. Women directors were almost non-existent in the 1960s. There was no change in comparison with the studio era.

But new interesting women characters, defying stereotypes and clichés, emerged on the screen in Finland and elsewhere.

In the cinema of the 1960s there was a trend that the central consciousness in a movie was very often that of a woman. Michelangelo Antonioni is the obvious case in his series of films starring Monica Vitti. An interesting parallel is Alfred Hitchcock's cycle of five films with women protagonists whose name usually starts with the letter "M" (Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie). Jean-Luc Godard's muse was often Anna Karina in his extraordinary series of 15 films. Robert Bresson preferred women as protagonists. As did Luis Buñuel in his interesting series of women facing the unknown (The Young One, Viridiana, Le Journal d'une femme de chambre, Belle de jour).

Women were privileged in reflecting the modern psyche. Perhaps the trend had been started by Ingmar Bergman in whose films men tend to be weak but women project an inner strength. In Finland, Jörn Donner was influenced both by Antonioni and Bergman.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Women in New Wave Cinema (Risto Jarva Society seminar) Day Two

Kesäkapina / Summer Revolt. Titta Karakorpi.

Kesäkapina / Summer Revolt. Titta Karakorpi.

Risto Jarva Society / KAVI.
Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 8 Sep 2018.

klo 9.00
Risto Jarva: PAKASTEET II (1970)
Katkelmia Tarja Markuksen elokuvista vv.1968–69.
Tekijävieraana Tarja Markus

klo 10.00
Puheenvuoro: mediatutkija Laura Saarenmaa
Katkelma Jatkoaika (1969) -ohjelmasta

klo 10.30
Eila Kaarresalo: AMPUMARATA (1969)
Tekijävieraana Eila Kaarresalo-Kasari

klo 11.00
Elokuvateatterin aulassa kahvia ja leivonnaisia, käteismaksu.

klo 11.35
Puheenvuoro: tutkimusprofessori Osmo Kontula
Katkelmia: AA:
    Kristiina (1966), D: Asko Tolonen, C: Kristiina Halkola, Pekka Autiovuori.
    Sirkku (1969, D: Timo Bergholm, Osmo Harkimo), starring Petra Frey and Tapio Hämäläinen, a touching drama about a schoolgirl who gets pregnant.
    Sex Kabaree (1967), a youthful approach.
    Sex Kabaree (1971), song by Kaj Chydenius and Veronica Pimenoff.
    Osmo Kontula presented an informative résumé of the sexual revolution in the 1960s

klo 12.15
Puheenvuoro: tietokirjailija Pontus Purokuru
Katkelmia: AA:
    Praha 21.8.1968, by Reijo Nikkilä, a photo montage.
    Ruusujen aika (1969), the scene shot on 21 Aug 1968.
    Jatkoaika (1968), a debate with Hannu Taanila, Lenita Airisto, Mauno Koivisto and Kirsti Wallasvaara, moderated by Aarre Elo. Referring to Koivisto's Harjavalta speech against radicalism, mocking "well-fed radicals".
    Vanhan valtaus (1968), photo montage by Peter von Bagh and his team. "I am worried about the number of provocateurs."

    Pontus Purokuru in his contribution emphasized the role of Kati Peltola, Liisa Manninen, Katriina Kuusi and Liisa Liimatainen. Riitta Jallinoja has stated that the intervention of a single person mattered. If Kati Peltola had not taken the initiative things might have been different. 1960s female activists refused to identify themselves as feminists and still do. Paavo Lipponen in his memoirs states that Liisa Liimatainen and her crowd saved the reputation of Finland by organizing an anti-USSR demonstration on 21 August 1968 in front of the Soviet Embassy. The women radicals were particularly brave and fearless in the 1960s.

klo 12.55
Puheenvuoro: FM, väitöskirjatutkija, ohjelmakoordinaattori Tytti Rantanen
Tekijävieraana Eija Pokkinen
Katkelma: Vihreä leski (1968)

klo 13.30
Jaakko Pakkasvirta: KESÄKAPINA (1970)
Tekijävieraana Titta Karakorpi-von Martens

klo 15.10
Jaakko Pakkasvirta: ELÄKÖÖN NUORUUS! (1968)

Saturday, September 08, 2018

UMO Jazz Orchestra featuring Alli Ikonen: Blue Notes on Silver Screen (concert)

Ville Vannemaa (tenor sax), Aili Ikonen, Heikki Tuhkanen (trombone), Mikko Pettinen (trumpet).

Savoy Theatre, Helsinki, 8 Sep 2018

Kirmo Lintinen, conductor and music programmer
Aili Ikonen, vocals

Teemu Mattsson, lead trumpet
Timo Paasonen
Tomi Nikku
Tero Saarti

Heikki Tuhkanen
Mikko Mustonen
Pekka Laukkanen
Mikael Långbacka, bass trombone

Jouni Järvelä, 1. alto saxophone
Mikko Mäkinen, 2. alto saxophone
Ville Vannemaa, 1. tenor saxophone
Olli Ojajärvi, 2. tenor saxophone
Pepa Päivinen, baritone saxophone

Seppo Kantonen, piano, electric piano
Vesa Ojaniemi, bass
Jaska Lukkarinen, drums
Jarmo Saari, guitar
Panu Savolainen, percussions

1. A Streetcar Named Desire [Viettelysten vaunu], 1951, D: Elia Kazan
– Four Deuces / Blanche, 5:30 (Alex North)
– Ville Vannemaa, cl; Jouni Järvelä, asax; Heikki Tuhkanen, trb

2. Touch of Evil [Pahan kosketus], 1958, D: Orson Welles
– Touch of Evil Suite 5:40 (Henry Mancini)
– Jouni Järvelä, asax

3. Singin' in the Rain [Laulavat sadepisarat], 1952, D: Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
– Singin' in the Rain, 5:00 (Nacio Herb Brown, lyr. Arthur Freed, arr. Teemu Takanen)
– Aili Ikonen, voc; Ville Vannemaa, fl; Panu Savolainen, vibes

4. West Side Story, musical 1957, motion picture 1961, D: Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise
Something's Coming, 2:20 (Leonard Bernstein, lyr. Stephen Sondheim, arr. Mikko Hassinen)
– Aili Ikonen, voc.

5. Anatomy of a Murder [Erään murhan anatomia], 1959, D: Otto Preminger
– Anatomy of a Murder (Soundtrack Suite), 10:00 (Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn)
– Jouni Järvelä, asax; Ville Vannemaa, cl; Pepa Päivinen, bar.sax; Seppo Kantonen, p; Tomi Nikku,; Olli Ojajärvi, tsax; Teemu Mattsson, lead-tr

6. Shadows [Varjoja], 1959, D: John Cassavetes
Strollin', 5:30 (Charles Mingus, lyr. George Gordon)
– Aili Ikonen, voc; Tero Saarti, tr; Ville Vannemaa, tsax; Vesa Ojaniemi, b

7. Orfeu Negro [Musta Orfeus], 1959, D: Marcel Camus
Manha de Carnaval (A Day in the Life of a Fool) / Yön väistyessä, 4:00 (Luiz Bonfá, engl. lyr. Carl Sigman, arr. Kirmo Lintinen)
– Aili Ikonen, voc

8. Dr. No [Salainen agentti 007 ja tohtori No], 1962, D: Terence Young
James Bond Theme, 2:00 (Monty Norman)
– Jarmo Saari, el. guit

9. The Pink Panther [Vaaleanpunainen pantteri], 1963, D: Blake Edwards
The Pink Panther Theme, 4:10 (Henry Mancini)
– Ville Vannemaa, tsax; Timo Paasonen, tr

10. The Naked Gun [Mies ja alaston ase], 1988, D: David Zucker
The Naked Gun Theme, 2:00 (Ira Newborn)

11. Rosemary's Baby [Rosemaryn painajainen], 1968, D: Roman Polanski
– Rosemary's Baby Main Theme, 2:45 (Krzysztof Komeda)
– Aili Ikonen, voc

12. Bullitt, 1968, D: Peter Yates
– Bullitt, Main Title, 2:30 (Lalo Schifrin)
– Jarmo Saari, el. guit

13. The Getaway [Pakotie], 1972, D: Sam Peckinpah
– Theme From "The Getaway", 3:00 (Quincy Jones)
– Timo Paasonen, tr

14. ”Powerhouse” has been played in 65 films in 1937–2010, especially in 1943–62 in dozens of short animations starring Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Daffy Duck, and also in several more recent tv series such as Ren and Stimpy and The Simpsons.
– Powerhouse, 2:40 (Raymond Scott)

15. Toy Story [Toy Story – Leluelämää], 1995, D: John Lasseter
You've Got a Friend in Me, 2:00 (Randy Newman)
– Aili Ikonen, voc

16. The Incredibles [Ihmeperhe], 2004, D: Brad Bird
– The Incredibles Suite, 2:35 (Michael Giacchino)


17. West Side Story, musical 1957, motion picture 1961, D: Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise
Mambo, 3:00 (Leonard Bernstein, arr. Michael Philip Mossman)

18. The Happy Ending [Myötä- ja vastoinkäymisissä], 1969, D: Richard Brooks
– What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? [Luonasi sun], 3:30 (Michel Legrand, Finnish lyr. Hector, arr. Janne Toivonen)
– Aili Ikonen, voc; Tero Saarti,

Engrossing concert of film music performed by UMO Jazz Orchestra at the strength of 18. Even the most familiar tunes sounded fresh and original performed live. I was the presenter but also the most privileged audience member since I was also able to follow the rehearsals. They started well and kept getting better.

Many of the selections are familiar from the orchestra's previous concerts. Among the delightful novelties was Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse", an animation mainstay and a fiendish earworm, probably not an easy track for the orchestra to play.

Aili Ikonen's interpretations were superb for instance in Rosemary's song without words, Krzysztof Komeda's lullaby theme from Rosemary's Baby. Such a gentle interpretation is actually more ominous and haunting than a traditional one. Her voice conveyed motherly love while Seppo Kantonen's electric piano was the voice of the Devil. The interplay was magical.

They saved the best for the last. There are many interpretations by the greatest singers of Michel Legrand's "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?", from Frank Sinatra to Barbra Streisand and Dusty Springfield. But this tender and passionate interpretation by Aili Ikonen is the greatest I know. It also helped that there are no strings in this orchestration. Strings sometimes bring a clichéd touch to an arrangement.

Women in New Wave Cinema (Risto Jarva Society seminar) Day One

Lapualaismorsian (1967): Aulikki Oksanen, Kirsti Wallasvaara, Kristiina Halkola.

Risto Jarva Society / KAVI.
Cinema Orion, 8 Sep 2018.

klo 9.00
näytteitä suomalaisista elokuvista vv. 1966–1970
    AA: First screened was a vintage tv documentary with comments by the directors Jörn Donner, Risto Jarva, Matti Kassila, Erkko Kivikoski, Maunu Kurkvaara, Mikko Niskanen, Jaakko Pakkasvirta, and Spede Pasanen.
klo 9.45
Puheenvuorot: Marja-Leena Mikkola, Kaisa Korhonen, Tytti Oittinen. Moderator: Päivi Istala.
Katkelmia YT:n esityksistä ja harjoituksista
    AA: Marja-Leena Mikkola emphasized that the change started in 1958.
    The pacifist Lapualaisooppera / The Lapua Opera (1966) was a cultural turning-point.
    Se saw the stark and all too brief records of the actual Lapualaisooppera material, still electrifying. A passionate call for non-violence. The hymn 579 "Oi herra korkein valtiaamme". Hymns of Zion 221 "Tuon tästä päivästä kiitoksen sulle".
    Tytti Oittinen remembered that in those years in every night train there was someone screaming in his sleep, having nightmares of war.

klo 10.30
Mikko Niskanen: LAPUALAISMORSIAN (1967)
Tekijävieraana Aulikki Oksanen

klo 12.15
(elokuvateatterin aulassa kahvia ja leivonnaisia, käteismaksu)

klo 13.00
Tekijävieraina Aulikki Oksanen, Kristiina Halkola, Marja-Leena Mikkola, Eero Melasniemi

klo 13.30
Näyttelijä Meri Nenonen, ohjaajat Saara Cantell ja Hannaleena Hauru keskustelevat menneestä, nykyisestä ja tulevasta. Moderaattorina elokuvantekijä Aino Havu.
     AA: During the New Wave there were hardly any woman film directors, but women were protagonists in an interesting and rewarding way. Today women are doing it themselves but refuse to be seen as women filmmakers or doing women's films.

klo 14.10
Timo Bergholm: PUNAHILKKA (1968)
Tekijävieraina Eija-Elina Bergholm, Timo Bergholm, Kristiina Halkola.
Katkelma Jatkoaika-ohjelmasta (1969)

klo 16.00


Markku Varjola: Women in the Cinema of the New Wave (an essay, in Finnish)

Punahilkka / Little Red Riding Hood (1968). Kristiina Halkola.


Uusi aalto merkitsi Suomessa modernismin syntyä kuolevan vanhan elokuvateollisuuden raunioille. Tekijäpolvi vaihtui, uusi vapautunut estetiikka ja maailmankuva murtautui esiin. Muuttuvan ajan ja naisen aseman myötä myös naiskuvassa tapahtui uudistumista. Monissa elokuvissa kuvattiin naista etsimässä omaa identiteettiään, paikkaansa maailmassa, rakkaussuhteessa ja sosiaalisessa verkostossa. Vähitellen mukaan saattoi tulla yksilön tarve osallistua paitsi oman elämän myös yhteiskunnan käytännön, jopa sen rakenteiden muuttamiseen.
Kyllä vain, käytännöllisesti katsoen kaikki 1960-luvun suomalaisen uuden aallon ohjaajat olivat miehiä. (Ellemme lue uuteen aaltoon ainoaa naisohjaajan tuolloin tekemää pitkää elokuvaa, Ritva Arvelon Maria Jotuni -filmatisointia Kultainen vasikka, 1961, joka on eri ikäisten naisnäyttelijöiden juhlaa.) Poikkeuksena on pitkien elokuvien joukossa vain episodielokuva Tunteita (1966), ja sekin koostuu lyhytelokuvista, joista yhden (Toivo, rakkaus) ohjasi, kirjoitti ja kuvasi nainen, Leena Salokangas. Tässä suhteessa uudesta aallosta ei voi puhua naiselokuvana. Miesohjaajien vanha täysvalta alkoi hyvin hitaasti murentua vasta seuraavina vuosikymmeninä. Televisiossa naiset alkoivat yleistyä ohjaajina aikaisemmin, samoin kuin lavateatterissa. Elokuvien tuottajat olivat vielä tässä vaiheessa aina miehiä.

Uuden aallon merkkiteoksiin kuuluu Eila Kaarresalon esifeministinen lyhytelokuva Ampumarata (1969).

Naisia sentään esittivät elokuvissakin naiset. Näytteleminen ei ole vain käsikirjoituksen ja  ohjaajan sanan ja tahdon välittämistä, vaan luovaa työtä, jossa näyttelijä jos kuka osallistuu henkilökuvan luomiseen, ja tulkitsee sen itsestään käsin. Näyttelijän persoona on roolin päällä ja alla, siihen kietoutuneena vahvasti läsnä. Kristiina Halkolaa saatettiin pitää Filmihullu-lehden syntyessä jopa auteurina. Useassa tapauksessa käsikirjoittaja, naishahmojen ja kokonaisuuden kirjallinen luoja on ollut osittain tai kokonaan nainen (Kerttu-Kaarina Suosalmi, Eija-Elina Bergholm, Marja-Leena Mikkola). Näin elokuviin on voinut tulla aitoa naisnäkökulmaa ohjaajien miesnäkökulman vastapainoksi. Sakari Rimmisen Pilvilinnassa (1971) käsikirjoittajana oli niinikään nainen (Meri Kurenniemi), ja lisäksi nainen toimi kuvaajana (Pirjo Honkasalo), äänittäjänä (Inger Nylund) ja leikkaajana (Ilona Tanttu), ja osa muusikoistakin oli naisia. Matti Sokan Mustassa lumikissa (1971) Ulla Kivipato paitsi esitti pääosan oli myös käsikirjoittajana.

Maunu Kurkvaara tapaili ja availi uutta aaltoa ja naiskuvaa elokuvilla Autotytöt (1960, pääosissa Ritva Vepsä ja Sinikka Hannula) ja Rakas… (1961, Hannula). Samaa teki avantgardisti Eino Ruutsalo Tuulisella päivällä (1962, Raili Metsä). Kurkvaara jatkoi (Hannulan kanssa) Meren juhlilla (1963) ja Naisilla (1964). Mikko Niskasen Käpy selän alla (1966, Kristiina Halkola ja Kirsti Wallasvaara) löi ”uuden” naisen viimeistään läpi suurelle yleisölle.

Vuosina 1967-1970 syntyi Suomessa sarja uuden aallon pitkiä elokuvia, joissa päähenkilönä  on nainen: Niskasen Lapualaismorsian (1967, näyttelijöinä Halkola-Wallasvaara-Aulikki Oksanen), Jaakko Pakkasvirran Vihreä leski (1968, Eija Pokkinen), Erkko Kivikosken Kuuma kissa? (1968, Maarita Mäkelä), Timo Bergholmin Punahilkka (1968, Halkola), Kurkvaaran Punatukka (1969, Tarja Markus), Pakkasvirran Kesäkapina (1970, Titta Karakorpi) ja Jörn Donnerin Anna (1970, Harriet Andersson). Tämän jälkeen uutta aaltoa oli päättämässä naisohjaajan läpimurto: Eija-Elina Bergholmin Marja pieni! (1972, Liisamaija Laaksonen). Tekijöille ja yleisölle tuli tarve ymmärtää ”uutta”, tasa-arvoa vaativaa naista, tai naista uudella tavalla. Näissä keskenään  erilaisissa elokuvissa naisia lähestytään heidän omien tunteidensa ja ajatustensa kautta, suhteessa itseen ja ulkomaailmaan. Niissä kysytään kykeneekö nainen ottamaan elämänsä omaan haltuunsa hänelle määrätyssä/hänen omaksumassaan roolissa, vai tuleeko hänen rikkoa tuo rooli tullakseen itsenäiseksi. Nähtävillä on laaja naiskuvien kirjo, jossa tyypillinen ja typologinen limittyy  persoonalliseen ja yksilölliseen.

Risto Jarvan elokuvissa naiskuva alkoi vähitellen ja välillä syventyä ja laajentua. Yössä vai päivässä (1962, co-ohj. Jaakko Pakkasvirta) ollaan kauniissa viattomuuden tilassa. Onnenpelissä (1965) ei päästä muotiammattien (valokuvamalli, lentoemäntä) taakse tai läpi. Työmiehen päiväkirjassa (1967) kerronta  etenee lähiörouvan (Elina Salo) yksinäisyyteen, vieraantumiseen ja ahdistukseen, josta Pakkasvirran Vihreä leski jatkoi (Eija Pokkinen). Miehelle nainen on mysteeri, jota pitää tutkia sosiologin (Vihreä leski) tai historioitsijan (Jarvan Ruusujen aika, 1969, Ritva Vepsä) voimin, äänen ja kuvan keinoin. Mutta voiko mies määritellä naista? Onko hänellä pääsyä naisen psyyken, sen koko rikkauden sisälle? Niskasen Kävyssä Kristiina Halkola laulaa ja Lapualaismorsiamessa puhuu suoraan kameralle. Kivikosken Kuuma kissa? avautuu Maarita Mäkelän puheella kameralle. Välittyykö elokuvista naisen oma ääni, vai rajaako miehen katse sen pois?

Jörn Donnerin elokuvissa Mustaa valkoisella (1968 ) ja Naisenkuvia (1970) päähenkilönä on mies, ja niitä dominoi miehen (Donnerin) katse naiseen. Täällä alkaa seikkailu (1965) antaa naiselle (Harriet Andersson) vähän enemmän omaa tilaa, ja Annassa hän nousee keskipisteeseen (kuten jo Poikkiparrussa, 1967, Ruotsissa) .

Osittaista naislähtöisyyttä tekoprosessissaan edustivat Käpy selän alla (Marja-Leena Mikkolan käsikirjoitusluonnos), Kuuma kissa? (jonka käsikirjoitukseen Kerttu-Kaarina Suosalmi otti aineksia ”Neitsyt”-romaanistaan), Punahilkka ja Anna (Eija-Elina Bergholm alkuperäiskäsikirjoitusten tekijänä, ohjaajan kanssa),  Pilvilinna (Meri Kurenniemi skenaristina alkuperäisaiheestaan, ohjaajan kanssa) ja Musta lumikki (Maria Wolskan alkuperäisaiheesta kirjoittanut Ulla Kivipato, ohjaajan kanssa). Naisnäkökulma esiintyy näissäkin elokuvissa miesohjaajan (ja työryhmän) näkemyksen läpi suodattuneena, mutta on saattanut murtautua esiin, jos ja kun niin on annettu tapahtua.

Elokuvissa on yleensä ihannoitu nuoruutta. Tämä vielä korostui 1960-luvun uudessa aallossa, kun tekijäjoukko ja maksava yleisö elokuvateattereissa oli voittopuolisesti nuorta. Tuottajat halusivat ennen kaikkea murtaa seksivallin. Tilanteesta kärsivät keski-ikäiset ja vanhemmat naiset. Heidät nähtiin lähes pelkästään sivurooleissa, joissa ei välttämättä ollut paljoa tilaa vivahteille. Heille jäi usein epäkiitollinen tehtävä toimia nuorten vapautumista vastustavien vanhoillisten näkemysten äänitorvina. Sama rooli oli kyllä monesti myös vanhemmilla miehillä tänä sukupolvikapinan aikana, eikä heitäkään paljoa suosittu pääosissa. Uuden aallon elokuvista vain Annan päähenkilö on keski-ikäinen nainen. Nuorin naispäähenkilöistä on Pilvilinnan koululainen (Meri Oravisto). Nuorison suhde vanhempaan sukupolveen nousee keskeiseksi Kurkvaaran ekologisessa pamfletissa Rottasota (1968).

Näiden elokuvien naiset ovat konttoristeja (Naiset, Työmiehen päiväkirja, Mustaa valkoisella, Marja pieni!), kotirouvia (Vihreä leski), opiskelijoita (Lapualaismorsian), koululaisia (Pilvilinna), koulukotilaisia (Punahilkka), opettajia (Kuuma kissa?), tehdastyöläisiä (Punatukka), insinöörejä (Ruusujen aika), valokuvamalleja (Onnenpeli, Kesäkapina), sairaanhoitajia (Musta lumikki) tai lääkäreitä (Anna), esimerkiksi. Donnerin elokuvassa Sixtynine 69 (1969) pankkivirkailija ja rallikuski. Kolmessa elokuvassa kuvauksen keskeisenä kohteena on naisten muodostama yhteisö: Lapualaismorsiamessa opiskelijoiden asuntokollektiivi, Vihreässä leskessä päiväaikainen nukkumalähiö, Punahilkassa tyttöjen koulukoti naisopettajineen.

Kokonaisuutena katsoen uuden aallon elokuvista piirtyy laaja sosiologinen, ympäristöllinen ja ennen kaikkea inhimillinen kaari. Tyylilaji vaihtelee komiikan ja tragiikan, arkirealismin ja unen  välillä. Naiskuvassa on parhaimmillaan elävää monitahoisuutta, ristiriitaisuutta ja särmää. Monessa elokuvassa kuvataan naisen kasvuprosessia tietoisuuteen itsestään ja maailmasta. Nainen on läsnä ja piirtyy esiin hengen ja ruumiin muodostamana ainutkertaisena luomuksena, yksilöllisenä ihmisenä, tietyssä ajassa ja paikassa, suhteessa häntä ympäröiviin erilaisiin rooleihin ja odotuksiin.

Markku Varjola (2018)