Films: Sodankylä Forever: The Century of Cinema

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Sodankylä Forever: The Century of Cinema

Sodankylä Forever: The Century of Cinema

Finland, 2010, 90 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Art/Filmmaking, Documentary
Program: Documentary Films
Language: Finnish English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Peter von Bagh
Producer: Ilkka Mertsola, Mark Lwoff
Editor: Petteri Evilampi
Screenwriter: Peter von Bagh
Cinematographer: Arto Kaivanto
Principal Cast: Samuel Fuller, Michael Powell, Francis Ford Coppola, Milos Forman

Every June, in the tiny Finnish village of Sodankylä, some of the world's most renowned filmmakers and a devoted audience gather for a 24-hour movie marathon. The goofy irony of it all? The sun never sets above the Arctic Circle in June, but these festivalgoers spend the whole time in the dark.

To mark the silver anniversary of The Midnight Sun Film Festival, festival director (and filmmaker) Peter von Bagh compiled a massive, 261-minute documentary drawing from the sometimes heated panel discussions by visiting filmmakers that open each year's cinematic binge. The 90-minute segment we see here is subtitled “The Century of Cinema,” and it concentrates on how World War II and the subsequent domination of Eastern Europe by the Soviets changed filmmaking everywhere. Ettore Scola and Jacques Demy trace the postwar roots of Italian neorealism and the French New Wave, respectively; in a 1986 clip, Hollywood legend Samuel Fuller talks about the “organized insanity” of war; Mario Monicelli explains how he uses irony and humor to illuminate grim realities; Francis Ford Coppola says Apocalypse Now was about how authority manufactures moral support for insupportable acts. And there’s more for us flies on the theater wall: Izstvan Szabo sadly recalls that “my generation was a generation without fathers,” and Ivan Passer describes the day that he and Milos Forman escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia to Austria: a border guard, it turns out, was an admirer of Forman's subversive films and let both men leave without exit visas. “He said goodbye to us,” Passer recalls, “using a Czech phrase that means 'goodbye forever.'”
—BILL GALLO

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