Northern exposure

Northern exposure

Finnish classics will be shown alongside more recent movies at this year’s Week of Finnish Cinema.

Published: December 12, 2012 (Issue # 1739)


Elias Koskimies, director of the comedy ‘Dirty Bomb’ (above), has been nicknamed Finland’s Woody Allen.

The Week of Finnish Cinema that runs in St. Petersburg next week offers city residents the opportunity to see another side to its northern neighbor than simply the shopping malls and ski resorts frequented by Russian visitors every weekend.

This year’s festival — the 23rd annual event — presents both new names in Finnish cinema as well as some celebrated classics, and seems largely oriented on young people, as it mostly deals with the problems faced by teenagers and their parents.

“I especially like the last film of the festival, ‘Miss Farkku-Suomi,’ a retro story about a graduate who is preparing to enter adult life,” said festival program director Alexei Dunayevsky.

The film that opens the festival, “Almost 18,” is the debut full-length fiction work of director Maarit Lalli. “Almost 18” was written by and stars the 18-year-old Henrik Mäki-Tanila, and is based on the true stories of five teenagers and the problems they face in modern life.

Lalli and Mäki-Tanila will come to the city to open the festival, along with the director of “Rat King,” which tackles one of the major problems of modern Finland: Gambling. “Rat King” describes the life of a young gamer who ceases to understand where the game begins and reality ends. Director Petri Kotwica is no newcomer to the Week of Finnish Cinema, having shown his debut work “Koti-ikävä” (Homesickness) at the festival in 2005. The Finnish premiere of “Rat King,” his third work, will take place on Jan. 20, but guests of the Week of Finnish Cinema will have a chance to see it earlier.

“The most common topic of Finnish cinema is human social disorder — unemployment, people who lose their material prosperity, crumbling marriages, teenage problems,” said Dunayevsky. “And above all, the topic of war, especially the Winter War, as well as biographies of famous people,” he added.

The Winter War fought between Finland and the Soviet Union from late 1939 to early 1940 is the subject of the drama “Silence.” Dunayevsky singled it out as “very serious, deserving the prizes it has won; a war drama that is very promising in terms of spectator reaction.”


Petri Kotwica, director of the gambling drama ‘Rat King’ (above), will attend the Week of Finnish Cinema.

Finland’s nominee for the Oscar award for the best foreign-language film, “Purge” — based on the novel by the eminent contemporary Finnish writer Sofi Oksanen — will be the only movie in the festival to be shown at Dom Kino. The movie tells the story of an elderly woman who takes in a young woman in hiding, only for them both to be reminded of their horrifying past.

Those in search of something more lighthearted might enjoy director Elias Koskimies’ grotesque comedy about the media market “Dirty Bomb.” Nicknamed the Finnish Woody Allen, Koskimies explores the price of success in his debut work that has received three nominations for the national Jussi award.

Equally, the musical comedy “Ricky Rapper and Cool Wendy,” devoted to the subject of friendship, is suitable for family viewing.

Friday, December 21 is devoted to the best Finnish films of the second half of the last century. Among the classics being shown are Finland’s best known and biggest-budget cinema project, Pekka Parikka’s “The Winter War” (1989), and the most highly regarded film outside Finland, “The Earth Is a Sinful Song” (1973) about a womanizing reindeer herder and the consequences of his affair with a young girl.

All the movies will be shown in Finnish with English subtitles.

The Week of Finnish Cinema runs from Dec. 17 through 23 at the Avrora and Dom Kino movie theaters. A full schedule of the festival can be found at

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