At the 1970 Edinburgh International Film Festival, Portraits of Women, described as ‘the cheapest, most vulgar film ever made by Mr Jörn Donner’ and ‘his absolute zero point as a scriptwriter, producer, director and actor’, was nearly denied a public screening by Edinburgh Council. The quotes, however, come not from the scandalised magistrates, but from the film’s own publicity materials: a prime example of the contention and controversy increasingly courted by Donner with the five films of his which were screened at EIFFs between 1966 and 1972.
Equally well-known in Finland for his work as a director and producer (Ingmar Bergman wrote that it was to Donner ‘that the existence of Fanny and Alexander was due’) as for his multi-award-winning novels, journalistic writings and political career, he is, in his 80th year, nothing less than a cultural icon.
We are therefore honoured to welcome Jörn Donner back to Edinburgh – which he first visited as a film critic in 1955 – on the 50th anniversary of his debut as a feature film director. In addition to screening his most recent film, The Interrogation, we will also present the UK premiere of the complete version of Eight Deadly Shots, directed by and starring former Donner collaborator Mikko Niskanen.
As with New Cinema 1, a publication, including writings by Jörn Donner previously unpublished in English and original essays by Antti Alanen (film programmer at the Finnish National Audiovisual Archive), will be available at all screenings for an optional donation whilst supplies last.
All screenings take place at Filmhouse Cinema 3. Public tickets are available now from the Filmhouse website and box office – 0131 228 2688. Tickets for The Interrogation (including Q&A) are available at £6 (£5 concessions) each and combined tickets for Eight Deadly Shots at £8 (£6 concessions) for both parts. Guild members will book separately through EFG.
For all enquiries, please write to EFGNewCinema@gmail.com.
New Cinema 2 has been made possible by the kind support and assistance of the Embassy of Finland London and the Finnish Film Foundation.
Eight Deadly Shots
Saturday 14th September at 12:00 (157min) + Sunday 15th September at 12:30 (159min)
with introduction at the Saturday screening by Jörn Donner
plus New Cinema 2 event opening address by Pekka Huhtaniemi, Finnish Ambassador to the UK
Eight Deadly Shots (Kahdeksan surmanluotia, Finland 1972, 316min)
UK premiere of complete version
Director: Mikko Niskanen
Finnish with English subtitles
Cast: Mikko Niskanen, Tarja-Tuulikki Tarsala, Tauno Paananen, Elina Liimatainen
The shots of the title ring out almost instantly, as a poor farmer kills four policemen in cold blood; the rest of the film presents – in one long flashback – a masterful and empathetic examination of the systematic decline of a working-class community through poverty, unemployment and drink which has led to this supposedly ‘motiveless’ crime. With the haunting Niskanen leading an almost entirely non-professional cast, the case could easily be made for him to be the Finnish Ken Loach – and Eight Deadly Shots, given its epic scale, its Days of Hope.
Previously unseen outside of Finland except in a cut (edited by Jörn Donner) which excised over half its material, this pristine restoration of the complete version was finally given its triumphant international premiere last year, forty years after it was made – and over twenty years since Niskanen’s death in 1990. This will be only its sixth international screening.
‘In Finland, the general public and film specialists agree that Eight Deadly Shots is their national cinema’s masterpiece.’ -Peter von Bagh
This four-episode film will be screened in two parts. Brief written summaries of previous events are shown at the beginning of episodes 2, 3 and 4.
The Interrogation + Q&A with Jörn Donner
Saturday 14th September at 15:20 (110min + Q&A)
The Interrogation (Kuulustelu, Finland 2009, 110min)
Director: Jörn Donner
Finnish with English subtitles
Cast: Minna Haapkylä, Marcus Groth, Hannu-Pekka Björkman, Lauri Nurkse
Jörn Donner’s first cinematic feature after a 25-year hiatus was this stunning return to form, treating the emprisonment of the World War II spy Kerttu Nuorteva in such a virtuosically minimalist fashion that one might almost believe that Ozu had adapted le Carré. The title is ironic, as Nuorteva – despite capture at a time when Finnish spies were commonly passed directly on to the Gestapo – was subjected to systematic cajoling rather than cudgeling, as her captors revealed to her the extent of Soviet treatment of its undesired Karelian minority. With stark cinematography from Pirjo Honkasalo (a major director in her own right whose career Donner’s early support helped launch), The Interrogation has already been praised by some as perhaps Donner’s greatest film…thus far.
Jörn Donner will be present for an interview and Q&A following the screening.