Described by the acclaimed film historian Stephen Thrower in his excellent 2007 book Nightmare USA as “one of the iconic faces of the genre”, Lynn Lowry (b. 1947 in East St. Louis, Illinois) belongs to genre film royalty by any given standard. Having acted in the 1970s and early 1980s under the direction of the likes of George A. Romero, David Cronenberg, Paul Schrader and Jonathan Demme, it is a challenge to name another actress of the era who would have worked together with so many filmmakers who have each later reached the status of an icon.
Having grown up in Atlanta, Georgia, Lowry moved to New York City in the 1960s and scored herself the most significant female part in the comedy The Battle of Love’s Return (1971), directorial debut of a certain Lloyd Kaufman. The same Lloyd Kaufman who later founded Troma Entertainment, created The Toxic Avenger and ended up in Helsinki as a guest of honor of Night Visions in 2014.
Around the same time Lowry secured herself a small (non-dialogue) part in David Durston’s I Drink Your Blood (1970). Her solid acting work in the infamous shocker contributed to her recognition, even though director Durston and his producer Jerry Gross did not see her worthy of a credit in the film.
Lowry’s collaboration with Lloyd Kaufman continued in Sugar Cookies (1973), a Hitchcockian thriller set in the world of adult film industry directed by Theodore Gershuny (Silent Night, Bloody Night, 1972) from Kaufman’s script. Sharing a number of scenes with Warhol superstar Mary Woronov, Lowry’s dual performance in the wickedly fascinating feature leaves a lasting impression.
The talented newcomer’s rise to fame then took off with substantial roles in George A. Romero’s fourth feature The Crazies (1973) and David Cronenberg’s feature length debut Shivers (1975), followed by the most significant female part in Jonathan Demme’s vigilante exploitation thriller Fighting Mad (1976) alongside Peter Fonda.
After having moved to Los Angeles in the early 1980s, Lowry acted in Cat People (1982) under the direction of Paul Schrader, then moved on to the world of TV shows and eventually ended up taking a long break from acting.
Over the past two decades Lowry has succesfully revived her career as a genre icon, having appeared in front of the camera in the likes of Breck Eisner’s remake of The Crazies (2010), the acclaimed horror anthology The Theatre Bizarre (2011) and the reimagining of David Cronenberg’s Rabid (2019) by Jen and Sylvia Soska.
Lynn Lowry will be presenting her work to the Night Visions audience at the following screenings:
Wednesday, April 20, at 09.15 PM at Cinema Orion: The Crazies
Thursday, April 21, at 07.00 PM at WHS Teatteri Union: Sugar Cookies
Friday, April 22, at 06.00 PM at WHS Teatteri Union: Fighting Mad
Saturday, April 23, at 09.00 PM at Cinema Orion: Shivers
Hailing from Northern Ireland, Lynne Davison arrives to Helsinki with Mandrake, her feature length debut as a director. Presented in the Official Selection of Night Visions as a Scandinavian premiere, Mandrake is an atmospheric contemporary folk horror with a particularly strong connection to the British classics of the sub-genre such as The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) and The Wicker Man (1973).
Born in Lisburn, right next to Belfast, Davison studied filmmaking in Napier University of Edinburgh. She has been writing and directing short films since 2004, and her works have been screening in the lineup of a number of international film festivals, including Belfast Film Festival, Cork Film Festival and BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. In addition to extensive experience in the field of (mostly genre related) short films, she has also worked in the capacity of a camera assistant on the hit show Game of Thrones and in David Gordon Green’s comedy feature Your Highness (2011).
Lynne Davison will be presenting Mandrake to the Night Visions audience at its both festival screenings:
Wednesday, April 20, at 04.30 PM at Cinema Orion
Friday, April 22, at 06.00 PM at Cinema Orion
Vincent Grashaw (b. 1981), a California native with roots firmly in Finland, comes to Night Visions with his third feature What Josiah Saw. A dark triptych of stories of southern gothic, What Josiah Saw cleverly throws in elements from Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men (2007) to its captivating mix of folk horror, noir thriller and action.
Having started his filmmaking career in shorts, Grashaw took a highly succesful step into the world of features as the producer of Evan Glodell’s Sundance hit Bellflower (2011). The drama of two clueless young men dreaming of a post-apocalyptic world in the vein of Mad Max was closely knit to the mumblecore movement of US indies of 2010s and eventually became a global festival sensation.
Coldwater (2013), his first feature as a director, was a grim drama set at a juvenile correctional facility that earned comparisons to the Paul Newman classic Cool Hand Luke (1967). Based on the award winning novel Project X by Jim Shepard, his second feature And Then I Go (2017) continued on the grim drama route, this time at a junior high school setting.
Vincent Grashaw will be presenting What Josiah Saw to the Night Visions audience at its both festival screenings:
Wednesday, April 20, at 06.30 PM at Cinema Orion
Friday, April 22, at 08.30 PM at Cinema Orion
Hannes Thór Halldórsson (b. 1984) took his home country Iceland by a storm with his feature length debut Cop Secret. This immaculately entertaining satire of 1980s Don Simpson era Hollywood actioners and buddy cop movies went on to become the biggest domestic box office hit of 2021 on its home turf, landing at number 2 in the box office chart of last year right on the heels of the latest James Bond outing No Time to Die.
Halldórsson, also known for well over a decade as the number one goalkeeper of Iceland’s national soccer team, has been working on film and TV alongside his entire career as a professional athlete. Working for Iceland’s oldest feature film production company Sagafilms, his best known work before the completion of Cop Secret was the music video Never Forget for the artists Gréta Salome and Jónsi (who also represented Iceland with the song in the Eurovision song contest in 2012) and a Coca-Cola TV ad for 2018 soccer World Cup, for which he also won the award of the TV spot of the year in Iceland.
After his 77th game in the ranks of Iceland’s national football team in September 2021, Halldórsson announced his retirement from professional sports. From now on he is focusing only on filmmaking.
Hanner Thór Halldórsson will be presenting Cop Secret to the Night Visions audience at its both festival screenings:
Thursday, April 21, at 09.15 PM at Cinema Orion
Saturday, April 23, at 09.00 PM at Bio Rex Lasipalatsi
Ugis Olte (b. 1981) comes to Helsinki from the Latvian capital Riga to present the Scandinavian premiere of the haunting folk horror Upurga, his first fictional feature as a director. A seasoned professional in documentary filmmaking, Olte is a familiar character to the Night Visions audience thanks to his “Laibach goes to North Korea” documentary Liberation Day (2016) which he codirected with Morten Traavik.
In addition to documentaries, Olte has also mastered his directing skills in music videos and advertising, in addition to which he has been involved in the development of a number of TV series. Also a musician and a journalist, Olte is currently dreaming of making a sci-fi feature focusing on the subject of time travel.
Ugis Olte will be presenting Upurga to the Night Visions audience at its both festival screenings:
Thursday, April 21, at 04.45 PM at WHS Teatteri Union
Saturday, April 23, at 04.15 PM at Cinema Orion
With Holy Shit!, his first feature as a director, the German auteur-to-be Lukas Rinker (b. 1986) shows master craftmanship in the challenging context of high concept cinema. Based on Riker’s own screenplay and expertly shot by Knut Adass, the genius of Holy Shit! ranks among the single location high concept greats such as Joel Schumacher’s Phone Booth (2002) and Mariano Cohn’s 4×4 (2019).
Having written and directed short films flirting with genre content since 2009, Rinker graduated as Master of Arts of media design from Hochschule Mainz in 2016. His thesis project, a four-minute trailer of a non-existing horror/action feature Laserpope was touring the international genre film festival circuit extensively, and to this day it has been viewed over five million times on different Internet platforms.
In addition to internationally recognized and awarded short films (such as Misguided  and Seven Heads ), Rinker has been involved in several TV projects as well as countless advertising gigs.
He loves directing animals and shooting stunts, special effects and toilets.
Lukas Rinker will be presenting Holy Shit! to the Night Visions audience at its both festival screenings:
Thursday, April 21, at 04.45 PM at Cinema Orion
Saturday, April 23, at 06.45 PM at WHS Teatteri Union
Night Visions celebrates the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Christensen silent classic Häxan at a special screening featuring a live score by Veli-Matti “Läjä” Äijälä. Äijälä has built himself a totally unique career of 40 years in Finnish underground music. This king of cult music groups and the iconic frontman of the band Terveet Kädet has been crossing genre boundaries all the way from hardcore punk to rockabilly. Over the past few years he has also been digging deeper and deeper into the bizarre world of minimalist and experimental electronic music. Äijälä’s brutal electronic sound art draws its inspiration from the darker corners of the human mind and psychological perversions, much like the stunning images director-screenwriter Christensen created for the movie camera in 1922.
Veli-Matti “Läjä” Äijälä will be performing live to the Night Visions audience at the 100th anniversary screening of Häxan on Saturday, April 23, at 06.45 PM at Cinema Orion.