The 19th edition of DocPoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival (January 27 – February 2, 2020) once again fills the metropolitan cinema screens with the freshest and most acute documentaries both from near and far. The festival, one of the largest documentary film events in the Nordic countries, kicks off with Elina Talvensaari’s Lady Time. A total of 96 documentaries are presented in over 230 screenings on 11 screens. DOKKINO, the documentary film event for children and youth, features an additional seven films. The films shown in both the Finnish and international selections are screened for the first time in Finland.
Eight new Finnish documentaries will premiere in the domestic DocPoint selection. The opening film LADY TIME is a beautiful story of transience: the director Elina Talvensaari moves into an apartment filled with the belongings of its previous occupant, an old lady who died alone. The film brings her story back to life.
John Webster’s much-awaited new EYE TO EYE, in which the victims and perpetrators of capital offences meet, and Susani Mahadura‘s KELET, an arresting description of a racialised trans woman in her early twenties as well as of the power of role models and community, will have their world premieres at DocPoint. COLOMBIA IN MY ARMS by Jenni Kivistö and Jussi Rastas depicts the peace process in Colombia while Erika Haavisto’s SILICON VALLEY, BABY. dives into the world of Silicon Valley startups. CONDUCTIVITY by Anna-Karin Grönroos follows the students of the conductor class of the Sibelius Academy. The domestic selection also includes two shorts: THE FANTASTIC by Maija Blåfield and TO TEACH A BIRD TO FLY by Minna Rainio and Mark Roberts.
Women to the Front!
A record 51 percent of the international DocPoint programme have been directed by women alone or as members of a pair of directors. Five of the eight works chosen for the domestic selection have been entirely directed by women and two more have two directors (a woman and a man). “Films have a direct impact on how we perceive reality so I consciously wanted to bring out female filmmakers and women’s stories from all around the world”, says Kati Juurus, the new Artistic Director of DocPoint. “On the documentary film side, women as filmmakers and women’s stories are actually the new normal.”
THE KINGMAKER, Lauren Greenfield’s (The Queen of Versailles, DocPoint 2013) much-lauded and much-talked-about portrait of Imelda Marcos reveals the high price of obsession for power, corruption and forgetting history. ADVOCATE by Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche follows the Israeli human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel. Her tireless quest for justice pushes the praxis of a human rights defender to its limits. Both the directors and Tsemel herself will attend the festival. The tragicomical SCHOOL OF SEDUCTION by Alina Rudnitskaya, another festival guest, shows what the woman’s position in modern-day Russia is like while Tim Travers Hawkins’ XY CHELSEA closely depicts the life of whistleblower and trans activist Chelsea Manning after her release from years in military prison.
DocPoint welcomes Mehrdad Oskouei
Mehrdad Oskouei, one of the most acclaimed Iranian documentarists, will arrive at the festival as its main guest. His new film SUNLESS SHADOWS, a recent Best Directing award winner at the IDFA festival in Amsterdam, tells the story of girls and women imprisoned for having murdered their father, husband or brother. Oskouei will hold an open Masterclass on Thursday, January 30th. In addition, DocPoint presents a retrospective of four of his films.
The festival programme is diverse also from a geographical point of view: films from more than 40 countries are included. The selection dedicated to new Japanese documentaries features e.g. Tatsuya Mori’s i – DOCUMENTARY OF THE JOURNALIST that recently won the Best Japanese Film Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival. The Shadow of the USSR selection includes several documentaries on the history of the Gulag system.
SHADOW FLOWERS by Seung-Jun Yi follows the attempts of a North Korean woman to return to her home country from South Korea over several years. One of its cinematographers, the Finnish Mika Mattila, has also directed CARNIVAL PILGRIMS which has its world premiere at DocPoint.
The Apollo Award for Juha Samola
This year’s DocPoint Apollo award goes to Juha Samola, the long-serving General Secretary of the Promotion Center for Audiovisual Culture (Audiovisuaalisen kulttuurin edistämiskeskus, AVEK). The grounds for the award include Samola’s work as a creator of possibilities for Finnish documentary cinema as well as his tireless efforts in the defence of media art and experimental cinema. Samola has compiled the Apollo selection shown at the festival with works by Chantal Akerman and Werner Herzog among others.
The ticket sales have begun! Welcome to the documentary heaven!