A celebration of European diversity at its best – thank you!

The 33rd Espoo Ciné film festival celebrated the diversity of European and domestic cinema for a week from August 29 to September 4, 2022 in cinemas in Espoo and Helsinki. In particular, girls and people with disabilities excelled in the festival programme, both as creators and actors! More than 15 000 people visited the festival on site and more than a thousand virtually. "I was really happy that people found the event after the last two exceptional years. The number of visitors exceeded our expectations", says Espoo Ciné’s executive director Laura Laaksonen.

“It was especially heartwarming how well the new concepts found their audience. The church screenings were popular and received praise from the church as well, while the Your Ciné idea competition organised for the first time managed to create a meeting place for minorities and filmmakers within the framework of the festival.” The familiar events of the festival also succeeded in inviting the public: “Saturday's Family Day’s screenings and activity points were visited by a wonderful 600 visitors. In addition, people from France, Portugal and Germany came to the sold-out the Alexi Laiho – End of Fucking Story night cinema to honor the memory of the guitarist legend,” says Laaksonen.

The festival was opened on Monday, August 29, by Crip Ciné's Opening Film Beautiful Minds and Espoo Ciné's Opening Film Three Thousand Years of Longing. In the opening of Espoo Ciné, two prizes were awarded this year: the Your Ciné Award given for the first time and the Espoo Ciné Award, given for the second time in its history. Pinja Eskola received the 2 500-euro Your Ciné Award of the idea competition aimed at underrepresented minorities with her idea of ​​a meeting between the disabled and the non-disabled within the framework of a larping drama.

This year, Anna Eriksson received the Espoo Ciné Award in recognition of her promotion of Finnish film culture towards diverse Europeanness. The award was a gift card to Valofirma, worth 3 000 euros. The award was given by Paula Vesala, who was awarded last year. Anna Eriksson will be a guest of Espoo Ciné again in October, when Espoo Ciné organises in Kino Tapiola on October 22 at 2:00 pm a gala screening in honor of the award. There will be shown an important European film for Anna Eriksson, Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to Matthew (1964) and Eriksson's own film W (2022) in the gala screening. Tickets go on sale in October.

Espoo Ciné's Head of Programme Mickael Suominen is also satisfied with this year's festival: "It was gratifying that after two corona years, we could once again make Espoo Ciné in its normal scope. The programme included a total of more than 100 films, of which the main themes of the festival, namely Girls and Crip Ciné, received a lot of praise. The interest in seeing films that celebrate diversity on the big screen was obvious!”

The main themes also attracted interest in the form of discussions. The representation of disability was discussed on Monday in the Crip Ciné x Vamlas discussion. On Tuesday, the topic of the discussion was the filmmaking process in the Making of The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic discussion, while on Friday the position of minorities in films and the change in the depiction of girls were discussed in the Everyone’s Stories to the Screen and Girls' Turn discussions. Recordings of all the discussions are available on Espoo Ciné's website.

In addition to the opening films, the festival's main films included the Finnish Gala Premiere Bubble, on Thursday, September 1, and the climax of the festival, the Closing Film The Superheroes, on Sunday, September 4. "The main films drew full theaters, but gratifyingly, the screenings for smaller audiences, where interesting new visions were presented, received positive feedback. Forbidden Feelings was a screening of short films that was particularly successful and dealt with feelings that we all have, but which we rarely want to admit to ourselves," says Suominen.

During the festival weekend, the festival's signature Night Cinema was organised on September 3-4, but this year the show was dedicated to Alexi Laiho. Alexi Laiho, born in Espoo in 1979, created an impressive career as a metal guitarist and frontman of the band Children of Bodom. Laiho passed away at the end of 2020 and it was not possible to collectively honor his memory due to the pandemic. That is why Espoo Ciné wanted to organise an opportunity to honor the memory of the guitar legend together. The night cinema was planned together with Laiho's family and band members. Even people from abroad came to the sold-out night.

The children's and young people’s film festival Junior Ciné was organised alongside Espoo Ciné from August 29 to September 2, 2022. The festival was able to delight young spectators right at the beginning of autumn, and many of the shows were fully booked in advance. In particular, the opening film Supermarsu 2, which was shown in advance, gathered cheering applause and gushing thanks, and the science fiction film for young people, Captain Nova, impressed the audience too. The animation collection aimed at the youngest viewers also gathered a large audience, and the collection was also enjoyed in the public screenings on Espoo Day and Espoo Ciné’s Family Day.

"After two exceptional years, it was a pleasure to notice that visits to film theaters are really needed in both kindergartens and schools. Junior Ciné screenings were shown in no less than eight venues around Espoo, the newest newcomers are the enchanting Museo Leikki and Lippulaiva library," says Junior Ciné producer Maria Lehtonen. "It was also great to be able to collaborate creatively with libraries again in the form of children's workshops and to try out the new concept of Cultural Education Workshops, which will definitely be continued in the coming years," adds Lehtonen.

Next year, the Espoo Ciné festival will be celebrated from 21 to 27 August 2023. Before that, however, there will be Espoo Ciné special screenings at Kino Tapiola throughout the year. In autumn, in addition to Anna Eriksson's gala screening, the special screenings will include Will-o'-the-Wisp, France and Before, Now & Then, which thrilled and delighted the audience at the festival.

Espoo Ciné thanks all its great volunteers, supporters and charming festival visitors!