The International Film Festival Rotterdam is currently screening Signals: Peter von Bagh, a retrospective programme dedicated to the works of Peter von Bagh.
The tribute program presents a selection of von Bagh films as well as three rare classics from Finnish cinema history that have been essential in his oeuvre. Most of the films in Signals: Peter von Bagh are now being screened for the first time outside of Finland. Interest in the works of von Bagh has been on the rise since film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum listed Helsinki, Forever (Helsinki, ikuisesti; 2008) by von Bagh as one of the ten best films of the last decade.
Signals: Peter von Bagh puts focus on some of the key years of the Finnish history (1939, 1944 and 1952) and on Finnish icons such as the Olympic runner Paavo Nurmi, the author Mika Waltari and the singer Olavi Virta. There are also films on more controversial figures such as the film director Mikko Niskanen or the Communist politician Otto Wille Kuusinen.
The oldest and the only feature film in the series is The Count (Kreivi; 1971) and the latest is an acclaimed film essay Splinters – A Century of an Artistic Family (Lastuja; 2011). The three part documentary of Mikko Niskanen brings attention to the highlight of the series, namely the screening of Eight Deadly Shots (Kahdeksan surmanluotia; 1972) by Mikko Niskanen. The full version of this masterpiece lasts a total of five hours and sixteen minutes and is shown in its entirety for the first time outside of Finland. It is described as “work of Zola-esque violence and grandeur” by the organizers.
Signals: Peter von Bagh has been curated by Olaf Möller and jointly produced by Nosferatu Oy, Illume Oy and Bufo Oy in co-operation with The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, The National Audiovisual Archive and The Finnish Film Foundation.
This year’s IFFR also features Jani Ruscica’s Scene Shifts, in Six Movements competing for the Tiger award in the short film section. Among Others by Pilvi Takala screens as a part of Signals: For Real programme. Africa by Matti Harju is one of the short films shown in a programme called Tales and Two Cities.