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travelmovies Compiled and written by Juhani nurmi The Moomins' most famous fan The diminutive but powerful pop star, Björk Guðmundsdóttir, visited Finland earlier this year to promote her musical contribution to the 3D animation, Moomins and the Comet Chase, now available on DVD. Björk, the eccentric Icelandic singer and songwriter, made her international breakthrough with the band Sugarcubes in the 1980s. Apart from writing her own songs, she has also ventured into acting, albeit temporarily, in Lars von Trier's haunting musical, Dancer in the Dark. Her song, "I've Seen It All," was nominated for an Academy Award in 2001. Despite having sold over 15 million albums to date, the supremely talented Björk could always switch careers; her performance as Selma Jezková in Dancer in the Dark earned her the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, an enormous feat for any actress. She's something of an artistic chameleon, who continues to surprise her fans with her versatility. The reason for Björk's visit in Finland was her ardent love for the late Tove Jansson's (1914 ­2001) cuddly Moomin characters. Despite being an intensely private person and disliking posing for photographers ­ this caused quite a stir during her visit in Finland ­ she spoke candidly about why she accepted the invitation to write the main title for the latest Moomin 3D animation, Moomins and the Comet Chase. The lyrics for the "The Comet Song" were produced by a regular Björk collaborator, Icelandic Sigurjón "Sjón" Birgir Sigurðsson, who shares Björk's affinity for the Moomins. to participate in Moomins and the Comet Chase. There's much to be loved about Jansson's humanity and warm humour, which I feel is evident throughout the Moomin stories. She never sacrificed characterisation for the sake of narrative or anything else. That's why I believe the different Moomin characters stand out so well even in the current cultural climate, and that's why they've become universally loved. It's all about tolerance and harmony, which must be applauded in today's chaotic world," Björk says. a visiT To moominvalley During her time in Finland, Björk was keen to visit places that have become cult attractions for diehard Moomin fans. She visited the Moomin World theme park in Naantali, as well as the island of Klovharu near the town of Porvoo, which was especially dear to Tove Jansson throughout her life. "Being here, I wouldn't have missed them for the world. Especially the Klovharu island was an extraordinary, magical place where I could truly feel Tove Jansson's spirit and presence. I can really relate to the austere ambience of the Finnish archipelago, as we have something very similar in Iceland," she says. Does she have personal favorites among the Moomins? "Despite having read aloud the Moomin books, I simply can't choose a definitive favorite over the others. Every time I read the stories, I seem to fall in love with someone new. Being now an adult and a mother, Moominmamma and Moominpappa obviously appeal to me the most. But as a child, I was always a huge fan of Snufkin (Nuuskamuikku nen in Finnish) due to his rebelliousness and anarchic side. I guess all that anarchy hasn't been stifled in me, as I still oppose being pigeonholed," Björk says with a mischievous giggle. Tolerance and harmony Jansson's books have been translated into 33 languages. Despite being classified as children's books, the Moomin novels are among the most widespread Finnish literary works, after the works of late author Mika Waltari and the Finnish national epic, Kalevala. At Helsinki Airport, the Moomin shop is a staple and often bustling. The Moomin characters were also emblazoned on the hull of one of Finnair's now-retired MD-11 planes, which flew the route to Japan. "Since I'm a huge admirer of Tove Jansson, it was both an honour and a genuine pleasure 22 Blue WinGs DECEMBER 2010 A new Finnish export: bad Santa EvEry now and thEn a movie comes along that defies expectations ­ and changes our notion of a concept as huge as Santa Claus. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, directed and written by Finnish newbie director Jalmari Helander, falls into this category. Based on a comedic and disturbing short film with the same title, Rare Exports is about a group of scientists who dig in the Korvatunturi fell in the Finnish Lapland to disclose the true identity of Santa Claus. What they find is neither pretty nor jovial. Rare Exports has won accolades at the Swiss Locarno Film Festival and the Sitges Film Festival in Spain, and has piqued the curiosity of American film critics. The Finnish Helsingin Sanomat newspaper has lauded the droll thriller as one of the best Finnish movies of 2010. Rare Exports opens in Finland on December 3.

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