Finland: Independence Day

Barbican Cinema, Barbican Centre
Finland: Independence Day
29 November
- 3 December


The Barbican celebrates the centenary of Finnish Independence with a season of films curated by the Midnight Sun Film Festival. Founded in 1986 by Finnish filmmakers Mika and Aki Kaurismäki, the festival takes place in Sodankylä, in the heart of Lapland where the sun never sets, some 120 kilometers from the Arctic Circle.


Aiming to bring the spirit of Sodankylä to London, the cinema season provides an insight into Finland’s history and attitudes - from the resistance to Tsarist government, to the country’s passion for liqueurs and tango, and its ecologically-minded behaviours. Exploring Finnish filmmaking from the 1930s through to 2017, the season presents works by celebrated directors such as Nyrki Tapiovaara, Valentin Vaala, Aki Kaurismäki, and Selma Vilhunen and opens with Juho Kuosmanen’s remake of the first ever Finnish fiction film The Moonshiners.


Independence Day is part of a Barbican cross-arts survey of Finnish culture also including the music series Celebrating Finland (Sep 2017 - May 2018).


Presented in partnership with the Finnish Film Foundation and National

Audiovisual Institute


Opening Gala
Silent Film and Live Music presentation of Romu-Mattila and a Beautiful Lady (PG*) plus The Moonshiners (PG*) with live musical accompaniment by Ykspihlajan Kino-orkesteri and live foley by Heikki Rossi

Wed 29 Nov 6.30pm, Cinema 1

Finland 2017 Dir. Juho Kuosmanen 30 min./ 15 min.


Opening the season is a double bill of short silent movies both directed by award winning rising star Juho Kuosmanen who will introduce the films.


First in the double bill is Romu-Mattila and a Beautiful Lady, the story of an elderly man facing eviction, based on true events. It is followed by The Moonshiners, a farce centred on the subject of distilling spirits. This is a remake of the first ever Finnish fiction film with the same title, a silent comedy which was released in 1907. No prints of the movie or its screenplay have been preserved, making the original a lost film. Kuosmanen has based the reconstruction of the film on advertisements and press articles from the time.


The Barbican screening features live accompaniment by Helsinki-based, 8-member musical ensemble Ykspihlajan Kino-orkesteri, which specialises in performing live soundtracks for Kuosmanen’s silent movies, and by renowned foley wizard Heikki Rossi.


The Stolen Death (PG*)

Thu 30 Nov 6.30pm, Cinema 3

Finland 1938 Dir. Nyrki Tapiovaara 86 min.

Set in 1904, during the Russo-Japanese war, this poetic thriller depicts the resistance against the Tsarist government of a Helsinki activist group, which becomes a force for Finnish independence. The film focuses on setting the atmosphere, rather than on following the plot, all the way to a melodramatic ending, sadly mirrored by Tapiovaara’s own premature death at 28 during the Winter War. The leading roles are played by Tuulikki Paananen, who later moved to the United States (and appeared in Jacques Tourneur’s The Leopard Man), and 'Ilmari Mänty', later known as Finnish Ambassador Ralph Enckell.


The Match Factory Girl (PG)

Finland 1990 Dir. Aki Kaurismäki 68 min.

+ The Land of Happiness

Finland 1993 Dir. Markku Pölönen 60 min.

Thu 30 Nov 8.45pm, Cinema 3

This double bill pairs together the final film in Aki Kaurismäki's late 1980's Proletariat Trilogy, along with the debut feature of country chronicler Markku Pölönen. The Match Factory Girl stars Kaurismäki’s early muse Kati Outinen, who in 2002 was lauded the Best Actress at Cannes Film Festival. She plays a factory worker living an impoverished life, never reaching the land of fantasies depicted in tangos or novels, instead suffering in her job and at the hands of her parents and boyfriend until she decides to retaliate. Kaurismäki’s movie is followed by film novella The Land of Happiness, set in the 60s, at the heights of Finland’s tango craze. A surrealist depiction of the emotions of youth, the plot tells the story of a young man and tango-enthusiast who returns from the city to spend the summer in his homestead of North Karelia, where he meets an attractive milk maid who makes his head spin.


The Year of the Hare (PG*)

Sat 2 Dec 3.00pm, Cinema 2

Finland 1977 Dir. Risto Jarva 129 min.

An ecologically-minded adaptation of the novel by internationally renowned author Arto Paasilinna, this is a modern tale about escaping the rat race for a more natural life. The plot follows an advertising executive’s decision to return to nature, as he takes an injured hare with him and escapes 'civilization' all the way to the Lapland wilderness. Without resorting to preaching, the film advocates a more humane way of life, in a humorous way. Sadly, this turned out to be the final work of director and great humanist Risto Jarva, who died in a car crash while returning home from the film premiere in 1977.


People in the Summer Night (15*)

Sun 3 Dec 2.00pm, Cinema 2

Finland 1948 Dir. Valentin Vaala 66 min.

Directed by the celebrated Valentin Vaala, with camerawork by Eino Heino and atmospheric score by Taneli Kuusisto, this is an adaptation of a novel by F.E. Sillanpää - to date Finland's only Nobel Laureate in Literature. A cinematic rural poem, the film is set during a bright Finnish summer night, during which people fall in love, are born, die, and have drunken fights. The movie features a standout performance from Martti Katajisto, who plays an intense young log driver, whose sexual identity could only be referenced indirectly in 1940's Finland.


Little Wing (12A*)

Finland/Denmark 2016 Dir. Selma Vilhunen 100 min.

Sun 3 Dec 4.00pm, Cinema 2

Part road trip, part coming-of-age story, this film focuses on 12-year-old horse enthusiast Varpu (Linnea Skog at her debut on the big screen) and on her personal quest. The first feature film by Selma Vilhunen, whose short Do I have to take care of everything? received an Oscar nomination, follows Varpu as she experiences growing pains with her insecure single mother (Finnish pop star Paula Vesala) and wants to find her father.




Notes to Editors


For further information contact:
Sarah Harvey Publicity: 020 7732 7790
Sarah Harvey:
Eleonora Claps:

Ticket prices: Box Office: 0845 120 7527


* Local Classification