Currently underway in the Finnish capital is Love and Anarchy, the 28th Helsinki International Film Festival. The Irish at the festival kick off today (September 18th), with screenings of Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster, and Mark Noonan’s You’re Ugly Too. Those 3 are joined later in the programme by Michael Madsen’s Irish co-produced The Visit, and a selection of Irish shorts in a curated programme playfully called Kiss Me Quick, I’m Irish!

song-of-the-sea_posterSong of the Sea follows Ben and his little sister Saoirse, the last selkie, who can transform from seals to people, and her journey to the sea, to find her voice and sing the “Song of the Sea” to save all of fairy kind from being lost forever. An all-star voice cast features in the film, including Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Lisa Hannigan, Pat Shortt, and Jon Kenny. The score comes from The Secret of Kells collaborators Bruno Coulais and the Irish band Kila.

the-lobster_posterLanthimos’ critically acclaimed Irish co-production The Lobster is a love story set in the near future where single people, according to the rules of The City, are arrested and transferred to The Hotel.  There they are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days.  If they fail, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing and released into The Woods.  A desperate Man escapes from The Hotel to The Woods where The Loners live and falls in love, although it is against their rules. The film is the English language debut of Greek director Lanthimos, and stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz with a supporting cast including Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, John C.Reilly, Olivia Colman and Ashley Jensen

youre-ugly-too_posterYou’re Ugly Too, which stars Aiden Gillan and Lauren Kinsella, focuses on a man who is released from prison on compassionate leave to care of his niece, after the death of her mother. An odd couple of sorts, they leave the city behind to pursue what they both hope will be a fresh start in the sleepy surroundings of the Irish midlands. The two bicker and fight as they adjust to their new life together and make tentative steps towards becoming an improvised family. Earlier this year the film was selected for Screen Director Guild of Ireland Finder Series Award. Director Mark Noonan will attend the screenings of You’re Ugly Too at Orion on the 18th of September at 6.30 PM and at Maxim 1 on the 19th of September at 6.30 PM.

the-visit_imageCo-produced by Venom Film, with support from the Irish Film Board, The Visit is a creative documentary that poses the question, what would happen if we were to be visited by a being from another world. The film presents this hypothetical scenario to experts from around the world who have already dedicated their lives to preparing for such an event. Director Michael Madsen will attend the screening on 25 September.

Kiss Me Quick, I’m Irish! is a 64 minute programme of Irish shorts that begins with Ruairí O’Brien and John Kennedy’s touching drama Cutting Grass, which was produced through the Irish Film Board Signatures Scheme. It is followed by Wigglywoo’s quite brilliant animation Tea With the Dead a story of life, death and a packet of digestives. The third film is Dave Tynan’s award-winning Rockmount, based on the life of a young Roy Keane. Fourth is Julien Regnard of Cartoon Saloon’s beautiful animation Somewhere Down the Line, following a man’s life, loves and losses, shown through the exchanges he has with the passengers in his car. Fifth is another animation, Conor Whelan’s Snowfall, the story of an anxious young man who has a moving experience at a friend’s house party. And finally the programme ends with Alan Friel’s superb Sophie at the Races, which sees and her wayward mother Harriette, go to the races to meet Sophie’s dad for the first time.a young girl and her wayward mother go to the races to meet her dad for the first time.

The Helsinki International Film Festival is one of the premier festivals of the region, featuring over 180 films and 160 shorts each year. Over the years the festival has played host to guests such as Danny Boyle, John Woo, Gaspar Noé, Tilda Swinton, Jan Kounen, Aleksandr Sokurov, Baz Luhrmann, Philip Ridley, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Jacques Audiard.

The 28th Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy runs September 17th to 27th.

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