The last week in January is truly a delight for all documentary film lovers in Helsinki: DocPoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival started shooting hard facts into the eyes of everybody willing on Monday, and this pleasure shall continue all the way until Sunday. Whatever you do, don’t stay at home or in the hotel to stare at a screen, but come to the city centre for the much bigger documentary film screens. You can feel yourself getting smarter!
Refugees and immigration is a topic that touches all Europe, and this year the Festival shows very multidimensional films on this very theme: There’s Sonita, an Afghan girl facing almost insurmountable oppression determined to become a rap artist; A Syrian Love Story about a restless revolutionary soul that finds it difficult to settle down for family life; and for example Mr. Kim & Sister Lotus, two stories about South Koreans who relocated to West Germany in the 1970s and, through different steps, more or less integrated into the society.
For nostalgic lovers of Helsinki, the most savoury pieces are, of course, the 1960s and 1970s films from the series Helsinki and Politics! I-III, which showcases for example Two Tales of Helsinki (Kaksi Helsinkiä), a film about the spiritual legacy of the Finnish Civil War. Another thought-provoking piece is the Struggle for a City (Taistelu kaupungista) that tells the story of the city divided into capitalists and proletariats. In the Apollo Series, you can try to capture the essence of the capital from the movie Helsinki, Forever (Helsinki, ikuisesti).
Other strong themes in the Festival films are, as usual, being an outsider or different and the often unfair circumstances of human life. On the other hand, what shines through is the immense human courage and amazing will to survive, even when facing nearly impossible obstacles. The only problem with the Festival’s excellent search engine is that it’s too easy to find way too much interesting suggestions!
From the Helsinki Tourist Information you can pick a copy of both the comprehensive Festival Paper (in Finnish) and the compact Screening Programme (in Finnish and in English). All movies are either spoken or subtitled in English, so that all Helsinki’s international citizens and guests could also join these bacchanals of facts and culture.
See you on the velvet seats!