The Seville European Film Festival will premiere in this year’s edition – 7 to 15 November- his last work as director, ‘SOSIALISMI’, which is competing in the NEW WAVES NON-FICTION section. It is one of his most universal works in which he examines one of the key ideas in the historical and political evolution of the 20th century (the century of cinema par excellence): socialism.
Beginning with the first worker film –which, by chance, is also the first film in history: the Workers Leaving the Factory by the Lumière brothers-. Von Bagh deals with this idea over the course of 18 chapters, preceded by quotes from various thinkers. Free association and digression weave an ingenious tapestry made of films –which range from Vertov to Dovzhenko, and include De Sica, Chaplin and Rossellini-, an intelligent commentary full of humorous nuances and lucidity on the relationship between cinema and socialism, on how cinema has thrown light on an idea that has been adored and demonized over one hundred years. The rise and fall of a utopia.
Van Bagh had already expressed to the management of SEFF his interest and “satisfaction from a position of modesty” at having the Spanish premiere of his film in Seville and at being able to visit our festival next November to present it.
A person of great influence in Finnish cinema, Von Bagh was one of the most relevant film historians in the world, and also a filmmaker and programmer. He was particularly active as the head of the Finnish Film Archive, and also in festivals focused on the recovery and preservation of the world’s film heritage, such as is the case with the Midnight Sun Festival in Finland, and the most important festival worldwide in this field, Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, of which he had been artistic director since 2001. He has also published over 40 books and has written for some of the most important film publications in the world. His book ‘Aki Kaurismaki’ has been translated into several languages, and he was the founder of the most important film magazine in his country, Filmihullu.
It was precisely this vast knowledge of film history that backed up Von Bagh’s career as a filmmaker, based on acting and reflection on the Finnish and world film archives, and about the relevance of film as an instrument for understanding society. As a filmmaker, he has been the subject of retrospectives at the Rotterdam Festival and Bafici, among others. His filmography (which takes in over sixty titles, including his work for cinema and television) includes such titles as The Year 1952 (1980), The Last Summer 1944 (1992), Helsinki Forever (2008) and Splinters – A Century of An Artistic Family (2011).