Peter von Bagh was an award-winning filmmaker, writer, critic, professor, archive director and programmer. His recent and untimely death at age 71 represents the tragic loss of one of the foremost worldwide authorities on international cinema. His unique body of work comprises a vast array of films, television productions, and radio programs, as well as innumerable books and magazine articles. Over the past decades, he served as artistic director of the Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä, Finland, as well as Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, Italy (where this past June tribute was paid to von Bagh in a program selection of his moving image works, entitled, “Peter Forever.”
In homage to this towering figure of cinema culture (yet humblest of human beings), GME is honored to represent the distribution of a package of his films. This boxed DVD set, entitled THE FINNISH SUITE (published by Illume Oy), comprises three poetic films that are key components of von Bagh's oeuvre in the 21st century. Peter von Bagh’s films were primarily concerned with the history of everyday Finns. To further humanize these stories, von Bagh often inserted his own autobiography into the narratives.
HELSINKI, FOREVER (2008) is a portrait and city symphony of the white city of northern Finland; SPLINTERS – A CENTURY OF AN ARTISTIC FAMILY (2011) explores the story of Finnish art through a versatile family of artists, without forgetting wider links to European cultural currents; and REMEMBRANCE – A SMALL MOVIE ABOUT OULU IN THE 1950’S (2013) is the director's most intimate film in which he returns to his youth and his hometown of Oulu. The city is located in northern Finland, and yet it could be anywhere in war-torn but forward-gazing Europe.
All throughout this trilogy, Peter von Bagh demonstrates both a masterful and deft command of found footage material, that is overlaid with his own voiceover narration. The filmmaker seduces the spectator into a visually arresting and engrossing self-contained world of images and sounds. He creates a cinematic reality that encapsulates the human condition in seemingly more vivid and poignant fashion than even the human experience of everyday life can afford us. He constructs both an extraordinarily personal -- yet at the same time universal –- meditation about time, space and memory.