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FESTIVALS Finland

Finland’s DocPoint reveals its full programme

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- Having reached its 18th edition, the Helsinki-based documentary film festival will open with the world premiere of Reetta Huhtanen’s Gods of Molenbeek

Finland’s DocPoint reveals its full programme
Gods of Molenbeek by Reetta Huhtanen

Reetta Huhtanen’s debut feature, Gods of Molenbeek, will open the 18th edition of DocPoint, a Helsinki-based documentary film festival. Set in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, it follows two boys as they deal with the aftermath of violence that threatens to disturb the peace of their community. “Three years ago, I started to hear stories about my sister’s son Aatos and their life in a neighbourhood where the majority of residents are of a Muslim background,” the director tells Cineuropa. “Aatos became interested in the way religion was reflected in everyday life – especially that of his best friend, Amine. He had endless questions about gods, trying to find his own. I wanted to show how children build their own view of the world,” she explains. “They might argue about fundamental subjects, but they don’t judge. While we were filming, the Brussels terror attacks took place, and it broadened the scope of the film. But for me, the attack itself was not at the core of my interest. I just wanted to show its reflection in children’s games and thoughts.” 

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Other Finnish world premieres will include six shorts, starting with The Wild Swans by Laura MendelinRide of Passage by Katri Myllyniemi and Vilja AutiokyröOtso Alanko’s LatuFourth Wall by Laura RantanenLove the Most by Antti Seppänen, and It’s Not Silence by Joonas Salo, as well as a number of features: The Law of Nature by Verena Netzer and Mika Rantonen, depicting the unforgiving reality faced by Finnish farmers, Minna Långström’s The Other Side of Mars, and The Blackouts by Oliwia and Jerem TonteriArthur Franck’s The Hypnotist will delve into the life of Finland’s most famous hypnotist, Olavi Hakasalo – also known as Olliver Hawk – who passed away in 1988.

While always eager to shine a spotlight on brand-new gems, this year’s selection will also showcase some of the most interesting documentaries of the past few months, including Genesis 2.0 [+see also:
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 by Christian Frei and Maxim Arbugaev, already lauded at Sundance, and Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff’s Los Reyes [+see also:
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, dedicated to the unlikely adventures of two stray dogs living in the oldest skate park in Chile. In keeping with one of the main themes of the 2019 edition, nature and forests, the audience will also get to see Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė’s Acid Forest [+see also:
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Daniel Zimmermann’s Henry David Thoreau-referencing Walden [+see also:
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and Shaheen Dill-Riaz’s Bangladesh-set Bamboo Stories, also set to have its world premiere at the festival. “Finland is a leader in technology when it comes to exploiting its famous forests. We hope to broaden the debate on the subject through the means of cinema, from more experimental approaches to more classical documentaries,” explains Sirkka Möller, chair of the selection committee.

Another significant theme will explore the current state of Russian politics, with the help of such filmmakers as Vitaly Mansky, administering a well-timed blow with Putin’s Witnesses [+see also:
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, and Maxim Pozdorovkin. “His film, Our New President, tells the story of Donald Trump’s rise to power entirely through Russian media reports, proving that truth really is stranger than fiction,” says executive director Tapio Riihimäki. “Russia is not only Finland’s neighbour, but also both a former colonial power and a close trading partner. We offer an alternative view on Russian politics since the 1930s,” adds Möller. Still, it won’t be all about politics, also thanks to Kristīne Briede and Audrius Stonys’ Bridges of Time [+see also:
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, a loving tribute to the forgotten masters behind the Baltic New Wave. “It portrays the Baltic New Wave through a cinematic essay, where the recent past is shown as both beautiful and melancholic. Essayistic film will always have a special place in my heart,” admits Riihimäki.

In line with the festival’s decision to champion diversity and inclusion, 46.2% of the chosen films have been directed by female filmmakers. Acclaimed Czech director Helena Třeštíková, whose René earned her a European Film Award in 2008, will be this year’s honorary retrospective guest, while cinematographer Marita Hällfors will receive the Apollo Lifetime Award, given out for special achievements in the field of Finnish documentary filmmaking. 

The 18th edition of the festival will be held from 28 January-3 February.

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