Concrete Night

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    Concrete Night

    Directed by

    Finland, Sweden, Denmark

    2013

    96 min

    • Finnish

    Drama

    Toronto IFF - MastersFinnish Submission for the Academy Awards

    A fourteen-year-old boy in a stifling Helsinki slum takes some unwise life lessons from his soon-to-be-incarcerated older brother, in Finnish master Pirjo Honkasalo’s gorgeously stylized and emotionally devastating work about what we pass on to younger generations, and the ways we do it. Finnish master Pirjo Honkasalo's feverish, stylized CONCRETE NIGHT, a glimpse at the imaginative life of a fourteen-year-old boy, is an aesthetic tour de force — an emotionally devastating work about what we pass on to younger generations, and the ways we do it. The film is set during summer in a stifling Helsinki slum so eerily run down that a sticky sense of revulsion emanates from each location, from the industrial wastelands where young Simo (Johannes Brotherus) hangs out (his swimming hole is a bay beside a huge toxic-looking factory on the outskirts of town) to its various hothouse apartments. Peter Flinckenberg's creepily precise black-and-white cinematography and a muted soundscape create a claustrophobic sense of dread — while stripping the atmosphere of any temporal context. The unmoored setting perfectly reflects Simo's anxiety and confusion about the world around him. The pivotal issue is the imminent departure of Simo's older brother, Ikko (Jari Virman), the closest thing he has to a father, who's being sent to jail for six months on a minor drug charge. With incarceration looming, Ikko takes the opportunity to leave behind a few noxious pearls of wisdom on the sexes ("You can always hit a woman. They enjoy it, but only hit a man if you have to.") and humanity in general. We, Ikko explains, are the only species foolish enough to live in the future. Simo soaks it all up — and indeed, the film's most painful and touching moments come when he tries to adopt his brother's tough-guy poses. A bizarrely seamless fusion of Coppola's Rumble Fish, De Sica's The Children Are Watching Us, and early David Lynch, Concrete Night is a cautionary tale about the attitudes and stances we cavalierly adopt without realizing the impact they have on those in our charge. Here, the children aren't just watching us, they're listening — and repeating.

    Awards

    • Best Supporting Actor Award - Lecce
    • Golden Arena for International Film - Pula FF

    Festivals

    Credits

    Cast
    Johannes Brotherus
    Jari Virman
    Juhan Ulfsak
    Anneli Karppinen
    Screenplay
    Pirjo Honkasalo
    Pirkko Saisio
    Cinematography
    Peter Flinckenberg
    Editing
    Niels Pagh Andersen
    Music
    Karl Frid
    Pär Frid

    Director's Statement

    CONCRETE NIGHT is not a film about school killings, mass murdersm or the Chechen brothers in Boston. It's a film about a young mind that was shattered long before the all-encompassing misanthropy may have got a hold of it. This is a film about the metaphysics of coincidences in a world which we, blinded by our delusional omnipotences, think we have control over and thus the ability to destroy. The protagonist of the film, 14 year-old Simo, is the fragile and sensitive surface reflecting all the rumblings that take place around him. Simo, lacking the ability to distort what he sees or change it to something more pleasing to him, sees the world accurately, just as it is. Life is unbearable when seen without a filter. Humans can't live that way. Being an adult means building walls. This is what author Marja-Leena Mikkola wrote about Pirkko Saisio's novel in the 1980's: "Edward Munch's famous painting THE SCREAM arouses a sense of unease in the spectator. The face of the screaming creature has no expression, and yet it draws the spectator in. One is compelled to look intensely at the gaping mouth of the face, one cannot escape from it. I expereienced something similar to this when I read Pirkko Saisio's CONCRETE NIGHT. It has been ripped of everthing superfluous - pity, tenderness, hatred, irony - all the remained was this scream, this howl. In CONCRETE NIGHT everything is dead for good. We've seen both mentally and physically neglected young people in suburbanghettos before. They have something that Simo doesn't; a subculture of their own and some concept of themselves. In CONCRETE NIGHT simo is an outsider, a faceless young man. Lefting Sumo and his environment into the focus of literal description is an act of love of sorts. The toal (and successful) settling inside Simo is an even greater one. The author accepts Simo." I, too, accept Simo. August 2013 Pirjo Honkasalo

    Production
    OY BUFO AB
    Sales
    FILM REPUBLIC

    Press

     one of the most gorgeous things to appear at TIFF  

    Indiewire

    Pirjo Honkasalo

    Pirjo Honkasalo

    Finland

    Pirjo Honkasalo is a highly established director, cinematographer and screenwriter, who has won countless awards for her work. She directed several feature films in the 1970’s and 80’s together with Pekka Lehto, e.g. FLAME TOP in Cannes competition 1980. In the 1990’s she continued alone and turned to feature documentaries, directing the prize winning The Trilogy of the Sacred and the Satanic (MYSTERION, TANJUSKA AND THE 7 DEVILS, ATMAN). She has also directed the stunningly beautiful THE 3 ROOMS OF MELANCHOLIA, a story of how Russian and Chechen children were psychologically affected by the war. The film is still one of the most award winning feature documentaries ever. She was then invited to Japan to direct a film in Tokyo coming out with her film ITO – A DIARY OF AN URBAN PRIEST. She has had well over twenty retrospectives of her work worldwide, acted as a member of several international juries and is actively giving international master classes. She is also Finland’s first female cinematographer to shoot a feature film. She both acts as director and cinematographer in each of her documentaries. With her film CONCRETE NIGHT she is back to feature fiction again.