13. country focus
Finland – land of a thousand lakes, of sauna, and of northern lights. Clichés everybody is aware of, but what else do we know about this country at the northeastern periphery of Europe? For many centuries, Finland had been part of the Swedish kingdom, until it became the Grand Duchy of Finland as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire. In 1917 it finally declared its independence, making 2017 the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Finland. Finland’s film history, though, is even older than that – the first film screened in 1896! In the past the Finnish film industry had to overcome many crises. Yet today, Finnish cinema receives critical and public acclaim again: Last year alone, Finnish films were watched 2,560,000 times in their home country alone – more than in any other year ever. (ses.fi/en) Klaus Harö’s drama “The Fencer” was nominated for the Golden Globe and also shortlisted for Best Foreign Film at the 88th Academy Awards®. Taneli Mustonens comedy “Reunion” turned out to be a box office success and films like “2 Nights till Morning” by Mikko Kuparinen and “The Girl King” by Mika Kaurismäki were celebrated entries at international film festivals. But what about the short films? Here, too, developments are exciting. Selma Vilhunens short comedy “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?” was the first ever Finnish Oscar nominee for Best Short Film. The Finnish-Danish coproduction “Listen” by Hamy Ramezan and Rungano Nyoni showed up at many festivals and received accolades throughout. And then we have the Tampere Film Festival: Together with the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and the Festival du Court-Métrage de Clermont-Ferrand, the Tampere Film Festival is one of the most important short film festivals in Europe. It is also the oldest short film festival in Northern Europe – it started in 1970. Quite often, Finnish short films are notable for their laconic, black humour, exposing the absurdities and scurrilities of everyday life with almost invisible subtlety. The seemingly banal of everyday life becomes a fountainhead for deadpan humour and sensitive observations. But the Finns also impress with their earnestness: Their movies have a sense of calm melancholy, leaving space for contemplation and association. The search for meaning and human relationships is holding together many of the short films of this year’s country focus. Also, Finnish film makers do not shy away from criticism about today’s society: How does Finland deal with the interaction with other cultures? What is the effect of a globalised capitalist structure on the consciousness of an entire nation? And last but not least: What about the women in a country that has a pioneering role in gender equality – and yet, is facing a serious problem of violence against its female populace? cellu l’art Short Film Festival Jena is offering a diverse and rich introduction into the Finnish short film scene with this year’s country focus. Expect an interesting and varied programme and: Tervetuloa Suomeen – Welcome to Finland!