Looking back on Midnight Sun Film Festival 2013

Moving images beyond the horizon

The rain is gone the next day, but unfortunately the mosquitoes are back. I already look like the Elephant Man below the waist. Because the next screening does not start before 01:45 am, me, Sebastian, and his friends decide to visit one of the local clubs in Sodankylä. I know that you should always be open-minded towards new cultural influences, but Finnish pop music is just horrible. As I ask the DJ if he could at least play something well-known and older, he surprises us with Bon Jovi’s „It’s my life“. Um, thank you. I stay lost in translation as a Finnish guy tries to talk to me on the dancefloor: „Sorry, I don’t speak Finnish,“ I say – „Yes, it’s nice to meet you too,“ he replies.

Maybe I should mention that 50% of the films shown at the Midnight Sun Film Festival are older productions, because they are not – according to festival director Peter von Bagh – as soulless as all this newfangled HD and digital nonsense is nowadays. Unfortunately, we cannot stay until the end of „Death Watch“ (1980), as the film overlaps with the Shining documentary „Room 237″ at 03:45 am. “I’ll look that up tomorrow,” I say, not knowing that I will not find any information the next day. I am very disappointed in you, Wikipedia. Now I still don’t know whether Romy Schneider has died or if Harvey Keitel will remain blind forever. In fact, I have already seen „Room 237„, but it is always worth watching it a second time. So what is the subtext supposed to tell us beyond the family horror scenario at the Overlook Hotel? It is about Indians? Or the Holocaust? Or psychoanalysis? Or even about the moon landing (which Kubrick faked during the late sixties – according to a crazy conspiracy theorist)? No idea, but it is exciting to see how a film is sticking to some people’s brains like a parasite for more than thirty years. If Kubrick was still alive, he would probably find that pretty funny.

After 5 days of watching movies, it’s about time to take the step from the cinema seat to the meta-level with the Co-production „3x3D“ by Godard, Peter Greenaway and Edgar Perâ. Whereas Greenaway chose to bring famous personalities of Portuguese history back to life via CGI, Godard preferred to show ancient film footage while grumbling from the off that the digital is the dictatorship of the modern age. Why the hell am I wearing these stupid 3D-glasses? In the end, Perâ’s contribution about Tom Gunning’s theory on The Cinema of Attractions turns out to be the best attempt to combine appealing images with intellectual input. Concluding that we have all turned into „Cinesapiens“ today, I find myself at the end of the film festival, realizing not only that I am a cinesapiens as well, but also that my trip is almost over. This world up here has so little in common with my own and although I really miss Berlin, this journey will always stay on my mind as a unique and unforgettable experience. And when the last mosquito bite has healed, only a few pictures on my laptop and the memories in my head will remain. History and the past do not exist, they are only a construction of our thinking, Godard had said in his film. But it is completely different when you experience things yourself: It is your experience that makes them real and true. Soon, the sun will also disappear behind the horizon of Sodankylä. But it will come back. And so will I.

Alina Impe

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