Anna Möttölä and Pekka Lanerva • Executive director and artistic director, Love & Anarchy
“What we care about the most is the audience”
by Marta Bałaga
- Cineuropa met up with Love & Anarchy’s executive director, Anna Möttölä, and artistic director, Pekka Lanerva, in Helsinki to talk about the 32nd edition of the Helsinki International Film Festival
The 32nd edition of the Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy opened on 19 September with Gurinder Chadha’s Bruce Springsteen-themed Blinded by the Light [+see also:
film profile], merrily humming its way into 11 days of audience-friendly fare, including the likes of Alejandro Landes’ Monos [+see also:
film profile], Quentin Dupieux’s Deerskin [+see also:
interview: Quentin Dupieux
film profile] and five films competing for the HIFF Audience Award: Amanda [+see also:
interview: Mikhaël Hers
film profile], God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya [+see also:
interview: Labina Mitevska
interview: Teona Strugar Mitevska
film profile], Little Joe [+see also:
interview: Jessica Hausner
film profile], Photograph [+see also:
film profile] and Tremors [+see also:
interview: Jayro Bustamante
film profile]. We spoke to Love & Anarchy’s executive director, Anna Möttölä, and artistic director, Pekka Lanerva, to talk about this year's edition of the gathering.
Cineuropa: You decided to sign the 5050x2020 gender-parity pledge this year. How do you see it being implemented here at the festival?
Anna Möttölä: Organisation-wise, it’s a challenge, especially if you want it done by 2020. That said, it’s something to strive for. We need these goals, and it’s not something you can just leave to the gods. For us, the diversity of voices has always been at the core of the festival.
Pekka Lanerva: We implemented it from the very beginning, as we already had 50/50 during our first edition: Derek Jarman and Lina Wertmüller [the festival was named after her 1973 film], who both came from the margins. When we started this festival over 30 years ago, it was focusing on film considered to be more male-centric. But over the last ten years, it has become more equal, audience-wise. That’s always encouraging.
AM: I don’t want to claim that female filmmakers come from the margins, but they do have to overcome more obstacles. Signing the pledge is about accountability, as we want to push the conversation and have a more inclusive festival. We don’t want to forgo all our traditions, but we want to see them in a new light: why do we choose the films we choose? Where do we look for them? It’s all about challenging ourselves, and that’s what we are doing.
What’s your take on the profile of Love & Anarchy changing over the years? Because, as mentioned by Pekka, it used to champion genre cinema more, for example.
PL: It has changed because cinema has changed as well. And every year, we try to reflect what’s happening in the world. When we started, Asian cinema was something special and still rather obscure, but now we try to explore other cinematographies as well – this year, we are trying to focus on Latin America. You can’t always follow big companies and big names. First, you need to look at the films. We never wanted to have a main competition, because there are already so many of these, and you can only give so many prizes to the same title. We prefer to educate the audience by bringing in new talents and filmmaking styles, like the ones in our new category called “Next Level”. It doesn’t mean we haven’t had this kind of film before, but now we put them front and centre for those who are a little bit tired of mainstream works.
AM: And then, of course, the audience changes as well. Love & Anarchy was born of the fact that you couldn’t really see these films anywhere in Finland. So first, you needed to bring them over, and then guide people into discovering them. Still, what we care about the most is the audience.
You have set up some accompanying events, like the [industry event] Finnish Film Affair and Nordic Flair, the latter offering career-development opportunities for Nordic talent. Are there any plans for their future development?
AM: Nordic Flair is certainly an interesting addition, and it does open it up more to this Nordic cooperation. And as for the Finnish Film Affair, we want to keep it intimate – it’s one of its biggest assets. It’s a great place to take a look at what is going on in Finnish cinema. But the aim is not to grow, necessarily, because we want to keep them both manageable.
PL: Before the Finnish Film Affair actually started, local filmmakers had to go outside of Finland to network. Bringing this kind of event here, where people can feel more comfortable, certainly works. When international producers or buyers come to Finland, they don’t just look at the finished product, but they can think about future projects as well.
AM: As a festival, I don’t think we can grow much audience-wise either. But there are certain things we still want to try. We have the Season Film Festival, which is our spring edition, and we are interested in figuring out what we can do throughout the year, because the landscape of cultural activities has changed so much in the last 30 years.
What’s the festival’s role in promoting Finnish films, actually? You do show them, but not too many. It’s a very curated selection.
PL: We usually try to show films that are on the brink of getting distribution and help them find the right audience. It’s also because many of these young filmmakers have been growing up with the festival.
AM: And the ones that have already had some kind of distribution, those are usually what we describe as the “Love & Anarchy films”. But yes, it’s also important to acknowledge this legacy. Love & Anarchy has been a platform and a school of cinema for many Finnish filmmakers, and we want to keep it that way. Everything you see here has been hand-picked, and it’s here for a reason.
PL: I would say that, in general, inclusion and representation are the key aspects of our programme. Seeing something you can relate to personally, surrounded by others who can hopefully relate to it as well, but also something completely different and new. It’s hard to say what constitutes a “Love & Anarchy film” right now, but it’s certainly a movie that tries to break new ground. That’s what we are interested in the most.
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