Silent film with anti war perspective

The silent film ARSENAL with music composed by the North-Norwegian metal band ATTAN, playing together with Ukrainian drummer Boris Ionov and Russian bassist Nikolai Olshansky, will be one of the special screenings during TIFF 2023.

Publisert 10.12.2022 — Anna Näumann

Every year Tromsø International Film Festival invites musicians to compose new music to films from the silent film era. Together with Barentskult, TIFF has extended one of the projects to embrace independent professional musicians from Russia and now also Ukraine.   

This year’s collaboration is the silent film ARSENAL with live music from the Northern-Norwegian metal band ATTAN, together with Ukrainian drummer Boris Ionov and Russian bassist Nikolai Olshansky. Remi Semshaug Langseth and Mathis Ståle Mathisen from ATTAN are the musical leaders of the project.

Anti war perspective

ARSENAL is a Soviet silent film by Ukrainian filmmaker Alexander Dovzhenko. The film uses strong symbols to describe the destructive power of war, highlightning the historic January revolt in Kyiv in 1918. Dovzhenkos masterpiece depicts war torn, exhausted and hungry people in an empty village, and the ambition of a war hero to turn the situation around. The style is clearly propagandistic, it contains a series of Ukrainian symbols, whilst exposing the conflicts between the Ukrainian nationalists and the Soviet nation power.

- Seen in the light of today’s tension between Ukraine and Russia we wanted to develop a project that deals with war, conflict, but also the anti war perspective in silent films. Due to the war in Ukraine we wish to put a focus on this country by presenting a film from the Soviet era directed by an Ukrainian filmmaker, says program- and festival director of TIFF Lisa Hoen.

Collaboration with independent artists

TIFF will continue to keep contact and collaborate with independent Russian artists when this is possible. It has always been a central part of the festival’s nature to collaborate across borders, both national borders, genres and art forms, not at least because of the good collaboration and support from BarentsKult, a financial support program to help increase cross-border arts and culture in the north. 

- The situation concerning collaboration has been challenging the last few years, first because of the pandemic and now because of the war situation. In a time where we see more and more boycotting, including boycotting of the independent and critical voices that are revolting against the supremacy, it feels extra important to take care of these perspectives, which are both brave and deeply needed, says Hoen.

Sound that pushes boundaries

As a supplement to the film’s powerful war scenes, TIFF wishes to present a sound that also pushes boundaries.

The band ATTAN describes themselves as “the sound of people who sucks the marrow out of their own bone”. They have toured both in Europe and Japan, played at the Malakoff festival, the Øya festival and Bukta - open air festival in Norway, as well as playing gigs with Cult of Luna, Dead Cross and Hexis. The band ATTAN consists of Remi Semshaug Langseth (vokal), Fritz-Rangvald Rimala Pettersen (bass), Aleksander Ralla Vilnes (drums) og Bjørn-Are Johansen (guitar) and Mathis Ståle Mathisen (guitar).


Boris Ionov is a well established drummer from Kharkiv in Ukraine, where he started his musical education and career. Since then he has traveled around the world and played as a freelance musician alongside many different artists. Ionov has never restricted himself to one music genre. During the last twenty years, he has gained a broad experience, and feels just as much home in a music studio, as in small clubs and on stages with thousands of people as audience.

Boris Ionov

Nikolai Olshansky is one of the brightest representatives of the new generation of Russian jazz musicians from Severomorsk in Murmansk region. As the highly professional musician (double bass, bass guitar) and composer with extensive experience performing in multiple ensembles,  Olshansky shared a stage with a lot of high-profile musicians around the world experimenting in various styles of music (example: Josh Evans (trumpet, USA) and Bernard Purdie (drums, USA))

Nikolai Olshansky

ARSENAL will play on January the 20th 2023.

Buy tickets for ARSENAL here

Other film concerts during TIFF 2023

CITY GIRL av F.W. Murnau from 1930 with music by the legendary Dodge Brothers is playing thursday the 19th of January 2023. Buy tickets here. 

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