Rasmus Kloster Bro

Rasmus Kloster Bro (b. 1985) arrives to Helsinki with his first feature Cutterhead, a claustrophobic survival thriller shot on location during the (still ongoing) construction of the Copenhagen metro. A graduate of the alternative Danish film school Super16, Bro has also worked on radio fiction, music videos (for groups Efterklang, Turboweekend, The Rumour Said Fire, Olympics, Prins Nitram, and Young Blondes), video installations, short films and as an assistant director on the Danish hit TV show Borgen. His short film Kiss My Brother (2010) won the award for the Best Narrative Short at Landlocked Film Festival in Iowa City in the U.S. and Barvalo (2012) was awarded the main prize for the best short film (Silver Egg) at Emir Kusturica’s Kustendorf Film Festival in Serbia.

Ramus Kloster Bro at Night Visions
Thursday, November 22, 2018 at 5.45pm Cutterhead (Kinopalatsi 9)
Saturday, November 24, 2018 at 12.30pm Cutterhead (Kinopalatsi 5)

Sam Firstenberg

Sam Firstenberg (b.1950 in Poland) is a long time favourite of Night Visions whose iconic features Revenge of the Ninja (1983) and Ninja III: The Domination (1984) have had their Finnish theatrical premieres on the festival screens just recently. Now the filmmaker legend arrives to Helsinki to present three of his 80s action tentpoles – American Ninja (1985), American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987) and Avenging Force (1986) – to the Night Visions audience, all of them seen at the festival on the big screen in Finland for the very first time in their uncensored form.

Firstenberg moved to the United States in 1972 from Jerusalem and completed his graduate studies in film at Loyola Marymount University. His first feature as a director was the drama One More Chance (1983), a story of an ex-convict trying to re-establish a relationship with his son. Little did anyone know that in the coming years he would establish himself as one of the most highly appreciated craftsmen of 1980s action cinema.

Menahem Golan and Yoran Globus of The Cannon Group first hired Firstenberg to direct a sequel to Enter the Ninja (1981), their succesful launch of the ninja action film franchise. Revenge of the Ninja (1983) turned out a success under Firstenberg’s direction, so he got eventually attached as the director of Ninja III: The Domination (1984), by far the wackiest part of Cannon’s original “ninja trilogy”.

After three succesful takes on the subject, the concept of the ninja action movie needed some revitalization. By now Golan & Globus had realized that Firstenberg is the man for the job. The result was American Ninja (1985), another piece of iconic action filmmaking starring the newcomer Michael Dudikoff – discovered by Firstenberg to replace Chuck Norris who was the initial choice for the titular role.

American Ninja was followed by four sequels. American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987) was the only one directed by Firstenberg, and Dudikoff starred only in parts 2 and 4. Needless to say, the first sequel is the only one genuinely worth watching and hence included now in the Night Visions selection.

Completing Firstenberg’s Dudikoff trilogy in the festival selection is Avenging Force (1986), one of The Cannon Group’s most non-politically correct efforts. Again starring Michael Dudikoff and Steve James of the American Ninja fame, the story pits good-guy liberals against evil right-wingers in a manner highly untypical for the action epics of the time.

After the golden 80s, Firstenberg directed Renny Harlin’s Born American star Mike Norris in the sequel Delta Force 3: The Killing Game (1991) and tried his luck at science fiction action with Cyborg Cop (1993) and Cyborg Cop II (1994).

The efforts since have not necessarily reached an iconic status, but Firstenberg’s work on the Dudikoff features alone provides him with an eternal top spot in the Hall of Fame of modern action cinema.

Sam Firstenberg at Night Visions
Thursday, November 22, 2018 at 7.30pm Avenging Force (Kinopalatsi 9)
Friday, November 23, 2018 at 8.00pm American Ninja (Kinopalatsi 1)
Friday, November 23, 2018 at 10.15pm American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (Kinopalatsi 1)
Saturday, November 24, 2018 at 8.45pm Avenging Force (Kinopalatsi 9)

Justin McConnell

Justin McConnell arrives to Helsinki from Canada to delight the Night Visions audiences with his latest feature, a highly unique body horror thriller Lifechanger, which he not only directed, but also wrote, produced and edited. McConnell runs Toronto-based production/post company Unstable Ground, is the founder of the monthly horror short-film festival Little Terrors (which he co-runs with Rue Morgue Magazine), a programmer for Toronto After Dark Film Festival, and an acquisitions rep for two Canadian distribution companies.

Most notably, McConnell has multiple feature films in distribution as director and/or producer: the single-take thriller Broken Mile (2016), the anthologies Minutes Past Midnight (2016) and Galaxy of Horrors (2017), the horror/thriller The Collapsed (2011), the counter-culture documentary Skull World (2013), the crime drama Cold Deck (2015, producer only), the dark comedy Junkie (2012, producer only), and the documentary Working Class Rock Star (2008).

Justin McConnell at Night Visions
Thursday, November 22, 2018 at 5.45pm Lifechanger (Kinopalatsi 5)
Saturday, Novemebr 24, 2018 at 11.00pm Lifechanger (Kinopalatsi 5)

Christoffer Nordenrot

The Unthinkable (Den blomstertid nu kommer) is the genre sensation of the year from Sweden, and Christoffer Nordenrot (b. 1986) is one of the masterminds behind the smash hit seen by over a hundred thousand cinemagoers in its home country during the summer of 2018.

Nordenrot studied at Teaterhögskolan i Malmö from 2009 to 2012. He is the lead actor and the scriptwriter for the acclaimed short film series Poesi för Fiskar (2009-2015), one of Sweden’s first truly big viral successes, which he created together with the production company Crazy Pictures. In his native country, Nordenrot has starred in several films and TV series of different genres, ranging from children’s programs to political thrillers to humor series. He played one of the main characters, Bill, in the TV series Fallet which won the award for Best Comedy Drama at the C21 Drama Awards in London 2017.

The Unthinkable is Nordenrot’s first leading role in a feature film. He also wrote the screenplay of the film together with the director Victor Danell.

Christoffer Nordenrot at Night Visions
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at 9.30pm The Unthinkable (Kinopalatsi 5)
Thursday, November 22, 2018 at 10.00pm The Unthinkable (Kinopalatsi 5)

Börkur Sigthorsson

Icelandic filmmaker and photographer Börkur Sigthorsson (b. 1978) arrives to Night Visions to celebrate the Finnish premiere of his feature film debut Vultures (Vargur), an ice cold, Reykjavik-set drug smuggling thriller for which he has also written the script.

Sigthorsson started his professional career in photography in Iceland at the age of 20 but quickly branched into directing. In 2004, he was signed as a director to the renowned UK music video production company Oil Factory (later to become Factory Films), where he worked for a number of years. Among his commissions are commercials for Nike (UK), Honda (UK), The Guardian (UK) and Fortum (Sweden) along with music videos for Richard Ashcroft, Supergrass, and Nine Black Alps to name a few.

After writing and directing two award-winning short films, Support (2008) and Come to Harm (2011), Sigthorsson went on to direct two episodes of the first season of the acclaimed TV crime drama Trapped (2016), created by the Icelandic director-producer superstar Baltasar Kormakur (101 Reykjavik, Everest, Adrift). He also created the opening title sequence of the series and eventually came back for the second season, to direct four episodes which are to have their first airdates in 2018/2019.

Börkur Sigthorsson at Night Visions
Friday, November 23, 2018 at 5.50pm Vultures (Kinopalatsi 5)
Saturday, November 24, 2018 at 6.40pm Vultures (Kinopalatsi 5)

Sergio Stivaletti

Sergio Stivaletti (b. 1957 in Rome, Italy) is the most famous and the most influential special effects artist of European genre cinema of all time. He arrives to Night Visions to present three features from his extensive body of work, including the Scandinavian premiere of the crime thriller Rabbia Furiosa, his brand new third feature as a director.

Over the years, Stivaletti has worked with nearly every icon of the golden age of Italian genre cinema. He started his career as an uncredited special effects assistant in Murder Obsession (1987), Riccardo Freda’s final feature as a director. This kickstarted a period of two decades of collaborations with legendary filmmakers such as Lamberto Bava (Demons [1985], Demons 2 [1986]), Dario Argento (Phenomena [1985], Opera [1987]) and Michele Soavi, the last rising star of Italian horror of the 20th century (The Church [1989], The Sect [1991], Dellamorte Dellamore / Cemetery Man [1994]). The scifi actioner Hands of Steel (1986) was Stivaletti’s only collaboration with the immensely productive multi-talent Sergio Martino.

Though the genre film industry of the 21st century in Italy is a mere shadow of what it used to be, Stivaletti has managed to find a number of ideal creative partners for himself also over the past 18 years. In addition to most of Dario Argento’s work in the 2000’s, he has also worked on the special effects of Night Visions audience favourites The Last House in the Woods (dir. Gabriele Albanesi, Night Visions 2007) and Morituris (dir. Raffaele Picchio, Night Visions 2011).

Out of his most iconic collaborations with Dario Argento, Opera is an obvious choice for this year’s Night Visions selection. Rarely seen on the big screen in Finland, this tentpole of modern horror features some extremely impressive animatronics work by Stivaletti.

Another obvious choice in the selection is The Wax Mask (1997), Stivaletti’s first feature as a director. Originally intended to be a joint venture of Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, with the former directing and the latter producing, the project was about to collapse when Fulci passed away unexpectedly right before the scheduled start of the shoot. Stivaletti saved the day at the last minute – and came up with a film that can well be described as one of the last great genre works to emerge from Italy before the end of the 1990s.

The icing on the cake of the festival’s Stivaletti selection is Rabbia Furiosa, the maestro’s brand new third feature as a director. Based on the same true story as MatteoGomorraGarrone’s Cannes 2018 award winner Dogman, Rabbia Furiosa is a Rome-set crime thriller escalating to highly toxic levels of extreme violence in its final act – and featuring some state of the art practical special effects as a recognizable signature of its director-screenwriter.

Sergio Stivaletti at Night Visions
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at 7.30pm The Wax Mask (Kinopalatsi 9)
Thursday, November 22, 2018 at 5.30pm Opera (Kinopalatsi 1)
Friday, November 23, 2018 at 5.30pm Rabbia Furiosa (Kinopalatsi 9)

Emma Tammi

Emma Tammi caused quite a stir this September at the Toronto International Film Festival where her first fictional feature, the atmospheric western horror The Wind had its world premiere. The visually strong period piece is a manifestation of (partially Finnish) female energy in a genre dominated by men. In addition to having been the only feature from a female director in the prestigious Midnight Madness section of this year’s Toronto selection, it is also written and edited by female filmmakers and featuring a particularly powerful female lead.

Tammi is currently based in Los Angeles. Her most recent documentary films include Election Day (2017) and Fair Chase (2014). She is the co-founder of the production and development company Mind Hive Films, and has produced content for clients such as Anonymous Content, Apple, Universal Music, Vogue, and MTV. Born and raised in New York City, and the daughter of two actors, she grew up in the theatre world. Tammi has worked under a handful of great directors, including Robert Altman, Mel Brooks and Susan Stroman. She is a graduate of Wesleyan University.

Emma Tammi at Night Visions
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at 9.50pm The Wind (Kinopalatsi 9)
Saturday, November 24, 2018 at 6.35pm The Wind (Kinopalatsi 1)