Rest assured, try to talk about Tampere Film Festival (TFF) and sooner rather than later you will end up talking about sauna. Why? Honestly, you do not know what you have missed so far.
Running since 1969, TFF is one of the oldest and most prestigious festivals in the world — not only in the short film circuit. Happening every year at the beginning of March, when snow and ice are still covering the streets of the amenous post-industrial Finnish city of Tampere, this FIAPF accredited festival is an event to visit at least once in the life of a festival goer. The reasons are indeed many.
The first one is undoubtedly the varied and interesting films presented in the International and National competitions — the latter screening feature length documentaries as well — to which a new one dedicated to genre shorts (called Generation XYZ) has just recently been added. The second is an always rich presence of curated programmes and monographies — I fondly remember the one dedicated to the Italian genius and animator Bruno Bozzetto back in 2016 — allowing the audience to discover past or never seen before gems.
The third is a strong and intense industry programme filled with panels and workshops, making the festival one of the perfect hubs to meet professionals from the Nordic European countries. The fourth is definitely getting to know Jukka-Pekka Laakso in his kingdom. TFF’s artistic director for more than twenty years (aka the wise man of the short film circuit) will for sure entertain the festival’s guests and he might also reveal the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything that he must certainly be aware of.
And then, the fifth reason: the sauna party. The sauna is where the magic of TFF happens, it is what makes this event unique, because the sauna defines what the festival stands for: equality. Getting naked makes one drop the invisible masks we wear in our everyday life. Standing there naked, next to other sweaty human beings — each one of us in our own, more or less, aesthetically imperfect (according to the globalised post-capitalistic taste) bodies — eliminates social differences, everything in that moment goes back to square zero. Getting sweaty, drinking, and skinny dipping in a frozen lake during an evening at the end of the winter season in Finland is just part of the fun one can experience at the sauna party. Talking to old and new friends and getting to know them for the way they really are, without the usual social in-between filters, is the true aim of that party, and of the festival as a whole.
This is Tampere Film Festival. And once you have visited it, you will really miss it.