International Film Festival Rotterdam takes place January 25 – February 4, 2024.
Image: Stormskerry Maja, Antti Rastivo / Solar Films
Five films supported by the Finnish Film Foundation will have their international premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam: a feature documentary from Ville Suhonen, a feature drama from Tiina Lymi and an animated short film Elli Vuorinen as well as two minority co-productions.
NB: this article was updated on December 22, 2023.
Competitive sections include short and feature films, animation and documentary
Children of War and Peace, the latest feature documentary from Ville Suhonen, has been selected to the Big Screen Competition. It is an archival documentary film that looks into nationalist education and the roles assigned to Finnish children by the state and authorities between the two world wars. The film is produced by Jouko Aaltonen for Illume.
Tiger Short Competition features the world premiere of Flower Show, an animated short written andd directed by Elli Vuorinen. The film focuses on courteous formality, allusive sexuality and mysterious nature which entwine at an annual flower show. The film is produced by Kimmo Sillanmikko for Böhle Studios (known for their 2023 festival hit Nun or Never!).
Another Finnish film in the Tiger Short Competition is Petticoat Fire, by Mox Mäkelä, about the mistreatment of our planet.
Moses, by Jenni Luhta and Lauri Luhta, will have its world premiere in the Tiger Competition for feature films. The film portrays Sigmund Freud, on the eve of his death, who is obsessed by the figure of Moses, the biblical Jewish prophet and lawgiver. Freud struggles hard to reveal who the man Moses was and what the ancient origin of monotheistic religion is. The experimental film is the artist couple’s second feature-length work. Watch the trailer.
Other sections also highlight the diversity of Finnish cinema
The third film supported by the Finnish Film Foundation is Stormskerry Maja, a feature drama written and directed by Tiina Lymi. The domestic premiere is on January 19, 2024, and the international premiere is in Rotterdam’s Limelight section. The film is produced by Jukka Helle, Markus Selin and Hanna Virolainen for Solar Films.
Based on a novel series by Anni Blomqvist, the Swedish-language drama is set in the Finnish archipelago in the 19th century. Young Maja is forced to marry the fisherman Janne, and she finds herself on the barren and remote island of Stormskerry. Maja, who has grown in a world of old values, becomes aware of the advent of a new era: a woman can have agency instead of being a mere bystander. Watch the trailer.
There are two Finnish minority co-productions in the program: the Icelandic feature film Natatorium, directed by Helena Stefánsdóttir, is in the Bright Future section, and the Estonian feature film 8 Views of Lake Biwa, directed by Marko Raat, is in the Harbour section. Natatorium is co-produced by Tekele and 8 Views of Lake Biwa by Bufo. Both films are supported by the Finnish Film Foundation.
Failed Emptiness, directed by Mika Taanila and written by Harry Salmenniemi, is included in the Harbour section. Filmed entirely with an industrial thermal camera, the film is an existential thriller that deals with the relationship between time and emptiness. Taanila and Jussi Eerola have produced the film for Testifilmi. Watch the trailer.
Another feature-length film in the IFFR program is Nécrose by François Yazbeck, a Helsinki-based Lebanese sound designer and filmmaker. Nécrose explores the post-apocalyptic remnants of Beirut and the remote landscapes of Lebanon. Blending elements of documentary and surrealism, it narrates the other side of the story of Genesis by following a man and a woman who awaken in an underground purgatory.
The debut film screens in the Bright Future section, and it is produced by Yazbeck and co-produced by Danai Anagnostou and Farbod Fakharzadeh for Kenno Filmi, Corps Céleste and Aalto Studios.
Kenno Filmi is also pitching a project by Sawandi Groskind, titled Skarpnabba, in Rotterdam’s CineMart co-production forum.
Samira Elagoz and Z Walsh‘s film You can’t get what you want but you can get me will screen in the section for short and mid-length films. A special section titled Chile in the Heart includes Angelina Vázquez‘s short film Two Years in Finland from 1975.