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MWFF: Day 9

Harbour’s Brother is about several friends who decide to open a bar in the fifties. They had nothing at the time and they were willing to risk it all during the summer of 1957, a period where swing music was at its peak. Investing all his money and losing his fiancée as a consequence, one of the men buys an old and unpopular bar from an elderly man and decides to turn it a hip bar for his small finish town with the help of his friends. The film isn’t based on true events but it portrays an exciting time in Finnish musical history when boats from all over the world docked in the port city of Kotka. In addition to transporting goods, the sailors brought another import: jazz, swing and blues. Gradually, the Harbour Brothers conquer the souls of the sailors and the people of Kotka with their exotic music—even the old owner of the bar who sold it to the group develops a genuine interest in the new venture. If you like the film, The Boys from County Clare (2003, Ireland) might be of interest to you.

I saw a high numbers of films every year for the past few years (at least 300 a year). This year I’ll see at least 150 films in films festivals alone. It’s a lot of films to digest. As a consequence, many films I see don’t seem original or refreshing. As would say Bjork in Dancer in the Dark … “I’ve seen it all”; well, almost—I still have surprises from time to time. The films can be very interesting and very well crafted, however, they might have nothing special that would allow them to stand above the other 1500+ films I’ve seen since I started to keep count of all the films I watched. Harbour’s Brother is one of those films. With an interesting narrative that sees numerous romances between its characters, the film’s depiction of the fifties works really well; everything from cinematography to the sets looks and feels genuinely 50’s-ish. Well-crafted and worth the watch, it lacks that small element, that small touch, that will make it stand above the other films out there.

I felt the same thing for the film Greenhouse Effect, which is presented as part as the World Competition of the festival. Again, the film failed to stand out about the other films. The themes in the film have been exploited before and I don’t think it brings anything new. I’m very happy I saw it though. The story is very touching and the harsh reality the film depicts leaves a mark. Additionally, the acting by the two young actors is very compelling. Greenhouse Effect by Valery Akhadov, sees Rita (see above) a young and naive teenager from the countryside has her baggage stolen at the train station where she was supposed to meet her fiancé. The fiancé doesn’t show up and, alas, his address was in the said baggage! Lost, having nowhere to go and without any money, she quickly meets a young boy who doesn’t have any place to go either—except the greenhouse where he finds refuge every night. As they both help each other to survive in this big city where they’re not wanted by anyone—Rita’s fiancée turns out to have given her a wrong address and the two young teenagers will be laughed at when trying to go shopping in the city—they will share their experiences and difficulties and they’ll learn to adapt to their new homeless life together. In the same trend as, Asia Argento’s The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (USA, 2004) and Mirage (Iluzija, Macedonia, 2004) are both recent trademarks of this desperate youth genre.

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