The 32nd Helsinki International Film festival: “57000 visitors, 160 feature films and 191 short films”. My experience and opinion

Article written by Gloria De Felice 


Helsinki International Film Festival “Love&Anarchy” is the most popular cinema festival in Helsinki. It lasts around 10 days. It offers different movies from all around the world, giving the biggest focus on nowadays society through filming.

Most of the movies have English subtitles. They also organize forum discussions and interview with the guests. The idea is also to gather Finnish and non-Finnish people based in Finland and to share some cinema culture from all around the world.

This year the festival had around 57000 visitors, international guests, and some side events and parties.

160 feature films and 191 short films were screened in 472 screenings of which more than one fourth were sold out.

The movies I have watched

 DOGMAN by Matteo Garrone


Dogman is a 2018 movie; it was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. It is a masterpiece of the Italian cinema. The film will take you to the melancholy, poor, and dark life of Marcello. His kindness and naivety with the wrong people will lead him to the wrong path and wrong choices.

The color palette of the entire movie is between grey and dark blue. The film was shot in an abandoned area called “Pineta Mare” closed to Caserta, in Italy.

After almost 2 hours of film, you will remain with a sense of restlessness and bleakness.

HOTEL BY THE RIVER by Sang-soo Hong

This was the only South Korean movie screened at the film festival. I liked it. The story is focused on love, family and betrays, poetry and art. An interesting fact about the director: recently he was caught cheating on his wife and this episode became highly discussed in Korean news. Maybe this movie was connected to it, considering the director is also the writer of the movie?

Indeed the main character, the poet Young-Hwan talked to their sons about the ex-wife and how much she despised him.

Overall, although only 5 main actors, shot in a few places, the film is enjoyable, ironic and easy to watch.

PAPICHA by Mounia Meddour

Papicha is a fictional story based on real-life events: the civil war in Algeria (1991-2002). The story is about Papicha, a girl who has the dream to become a fashion designer. Once the war started, women started to be pressured to quit the study and wear the niqab, a veil for the face that leaves only the eyes clear. She decided to organize a fashion show with her friends to demonstrate against the system, unfair especially to women.

PIRANHAS by Claudio Giovannesi

I personally watched this movie because I had previously read the homonymous book by Roberto Saviano that inspired the film.

I was disappointed by how the plot was changed. The mother had an extremely strong role in the book. I felt like the entire plot lost realism, and then the whole film seems fictitious. The actors are speaking mostly in Neapolitan and also for Italian speaking people, it would be very hard to watch without subtitles. What I appreciated were the photography and the high attention to detail of the scenography.

BACURAU by Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho


Dystopic, Tarantino´s inspired, sci-fi. This was one of the most pleasant films I watched at this festival. I came out of the theatre smiling and thrilled. It has all the elements for a perfect film. I was also surprised to read that most of the actors are new to the cinema world.

The photography and the color palette were great. I won´t disclose too much about the plot, but I truly recommend watching it. Bacurau was acclaimed during the last edition of the Cannes Film Festival and won the Jury Prize.

Final comments and what disappointed me

One of the movies I was mostly excited about watching was the 2019 winner of the Cannes Film Festival, Parasite by Bong Joon-ho. Unfortunately, it wasn’t  screened.

Also, the opening film “Blinded by the light” by Gurinder Chiadha had only one screening and sold out pretty early. The same problem had “the Lighthouse” by Robert Eggers.

I still think the Helsinki International Film Festival can organize things better than this. I don’t want to look pedantic since I wrote the same issue in my last year’s review, but I feel they should acknowledging the potential that this kind of festival could have in terms of networking, relations and major cultural spread.

For instance, I still feel there is not enough advertisement about the films and the side events.

I would recommend some pre-festival articles, in English also, with more information about the entire festival before the happening.

Next year’s event, The 33rd HIFF – Love & Anarchy, will be organized on September 17th– 27th 2020.


Text: Gloria De Felice


Photo: Rakkautta ja Anarkiaa Press kit 2019



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