The 54th Tampere Film Festival 6–10 March 2024 will feature a diverse theme programme in addition to competition film screenings. At first are highlighted the programme themes that are very current considering the world situation, “Democracy in Danger” and “Chai Khana”. 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.
– We have seen how the rights of women, gender and sexual minorities are limited. Free movement is denied, the voting results of free and fair elections are questioned, and the independent media has lost its prestige as a carrier of news. People’s trust in decision-makers, authorities and the media is decaying, describes Riina Mikkonen, executive director of the Tampere Film Festival.
The programme features both classics and short films of the 2020s
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.
Among older short film productions, Black Panthers (1968) directed by Agnés Varda, which focuses on the protests related to the arrest of Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton in Oakland, California, will be shown. The most recent short film will be the Finnish Elokapina documentary How to Save a Forest (2023), which tells about the stages of the Talaskangas forest from the threat of logging to becoming a nature reserve. There will also be experimental documentaries shown in theme screenings such as Cosmonauts (2020) directed by Danila Gulin and Last Day (2021) directed by Cyprien Clément-Delmas.
Jouko Aaltonen’s film How to Fix the World? (2023) will be screened as a long documentary. The film is a handbook of direct action, where squatters, climate activists and anarchists share their experiences. Using archival footage, the film connects activists across generations.
Conflict-affected groups featured in Chai Khana theme programme
The Chai Khana programme, which is also related to democracy, shows short documentaries about the countries of the South Caucasus. Chai Khana is an award-winning regional media organization covering stories about women, rural communities, minorities and conflict-affected groups in the South Caucasus. The Chai Khana themed screening will include, for example, the film Dreamland (2023) directed by Maradia Tsaava and A Story Of Home (2023) directed by Merri Mkrtchyan. Tsaava’s film sheds light on the challenges thousands of Georgian students face due to tripled rent prices in Tbilisi. Mkrtchyan’s film, on the other hand, tells about the consequences of the 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as a result of which Armenia cedes its territories and people are forced to leave their homes.
Democracy in Danger and Chai Khana screenings take a stand and bring new perspectives to light – what does society and everyday life look like without democracy? On the other hand, there is also hope in the films at the screenings:
– As long as there are thinking individuals who cooperate with each other, there is hope for better, Mikkonen sums up.
The state of democracy is also discussed at the festival’s events
In addition to film screenings, the programme includes other events related to the themes. The Tampere University’s Democracy Research Network organizes panel discussions on everyday democracy and civic activism as part of the Democracy in Danger programme, as well as the Democracy in Danger seminar open to all. In the seminar, Tampere University’s democracy researchers, based on their research, open the dangers to democracy and ways to secure democracy.
The aim of the collaboration is to reach new audiences and bring together researchers and film people to discuss issues related to democracy.
– At a time when democracy is threatened from many directions, we want to bring out different perspectives identified in the research on why democracy is in danger, but also open perspectives on how these dangers can be avoided and mitigated, and how democracy can be promoted at different levels of society as part of everyday life. Combining art and science can open up new perspectives and opportunities for promoting democracy and building democratic societies, says university lecturer Anni Jäntti about the collaboration.
The competition selections for the 2024 festival will be published at the end of January. The full programme of the festival will be published and individual tickets will go on sale on 14 February 2024. However, the sale of serial cards with early bird discounts has started on the Lippu.fi website and at ticket outlets.
The Tampere International Film Festival will be held for the 54th time from 6 to 10 March.
Tampere Film Festival and the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle will jointly organise both a film screening and