Democracy in Danger

The state of democracy is one one programme themes is this year’s Tampere Film Festival. The Democracy in Danger programme set includes short film screenings and a long documentary. The screenings deal with, for example, civic activism and democracy in everyday life. The screenings will include recent short films from the 2020s, but also older classics from the 1960s and 70s.

The programmes curated by the artistic group of the festival were born from the need to take part in the social discussion about the decay of Western democracy. Check out the Democracy in Danger screenings and read Riina Mikkonen’s, Tampere Film Festival’s executive director, foreword on the Democracy in Danger thematic programme.

The theme will also be discussed in Finnish at a seminar at Tampere University.

Social issues and democracy is also addressed in the South Caucasus -screenings.

The Democracy in Danger programme engages in the social discussion about the state of democracy. In Europe, we live in the shadow of Russia’s military actions, and the situation in the Middle East is alarming. In order to prevent disagreements from escalating into violent conflicts, people should have equal opportunities to participate in public debate. This also means tolerating differing views and the patience to have a dialogue.

The first screening of the programme, Everyday Democracy, involves threats and opportunities: what happens when the more powerful take control? Even If She Had Been a Criminal (2006) is a compelling film about revenge and misogyny in France after the end of World War II. Last Day (2021) captures the tense atmosphere in Washington D.C. in January 2021 while The Christmas Gift (2018) shows how restricted daily life is in a dictatorship. Pirjo Honkasalo and Pekka Lehto’s rarely seen documentary, The Sign of Danger (1978), describes the activities of the fascist movement in Finland in the late 1970s. The screening concludes with Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren’s hopeful fiction, Chords (2022), in which a choir stands up against a multinational company.

The second screening, Citizens in Action, gives voice to unyielding activists. How to Save a Forest (2023) is a documentary about successful environmental activism. The animation Freedom Swimmer (2021) opposes Chinese politics in Hong Kong, the fiction Flores del otro patio (2022) is an elegant demonstration of queer activism in Colombia and Cosmonauts (2020) reminds us that Russia does have an opposition that is against Putin. The screening ends with Agnès Varda’s contemporary account, Black Panthers (1968).

How to Save a Forest, Black Panthers and the programme’s long documentary, How to Fix the World (2023) advise us to keep in mind that there have always been injustices throughout history, but also people who have been willing to address them. The idea that change has been achieved before instils hope for the future as well.

In addition to the screenings, democracy will be discussed in two panels, organised together with the Democracy Research Network of Tampere University. The panel discussions are free to attend. 

Riina Mikkonen
Curator / Tampere Film Festival