"Thank God for film archivist Dennis Nyback. If not for his encyclopedic knowledge of rare films and his tenacity for acquiring them, we would never have the privilege to view some astounding works of cinema." Kim Morgan


Dennis Nyback takes his films around the world. Find out how to book a show, what programs are available, how to arrange for custom programming, and just about anything you would like to know about Dennis Nyback.

Cardamon Donuts

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Bing Crosby in The Big Broadcast (1932)

In my haste  the previous evening to depart the Effect of Dada And Surrealism screening and get to the Sauna Party I left my top coat and hat in the office up stairs above the Tullikamarinaukio theater.  At a reasonable hour the next morning the phone in my room rang.  It was reception downstairs saying my coat  and hat had been delivered.  What a well run festival this is!  After breakfast I spent the rest of morning working on yesterday’s report which I posted at 11:20.  Ten minutes later I was at Plevna where I did a radio interview.  The nice young fellow had been to the Dada screening so everything was to the point.  I am not sure if I mentioned that at the screening there was a sound problem at the beginning.  In fact at first there was no sound.  I did my best to fill in  the lost soundtrack to The Big Broadcast which included singing the Bing Crosby and Kate Smith parts. They found the sound after that and I was able to get to the party.   In the interview the young man asked me to again sing the Bing Crosby part.  Well, you do what you can do when publicity calls.

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Pyynikki Observation Tower  Tampere, Finland

After the interview it was a short walk to the staging area at the Vaino Linna Square for the day’s outing.  The internationals guests, which included me, traveled in two vans to the 1929 Observation tower.   I wonder what it is about observation towers and Finns?  There is another excellent observation tower in Astoria, Oregon, which has always had a large Finnish population.

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The Astoria Column

The Tampere Observation Tower looks down on not just the city but also the Pyhajarvi and Nasijarvi lakes.  We all trooped up the stairs to the top where we found abundant views and fresh air.  Also sideways  snow.  It was very invigorating.  I needed some invigorating after the gala events of the previous evening. Another thing I left out of yesterdays report was that after the Sauna Party we went to a taven for more revelry, not the best idea all things considered.

At the Tower cafe we had refreshments.  I had hot chocolate.  We all had donuts, of which the cafe is famous for.  The donuts were flavored with cardamon. I am sure they don’t offer that flavor at Voodoo Donuts.

Back at the hotel I took a nap and didn’t get up again until 5:00pm.  My plan was to do research to improve my talk before The Age of Oil and then get dinner at 6:00.   As usual the research took longer than I figured.  Oh, have I mentioned that all my Google search answers here are in Finnish?  Yes, Google watches out for you when you travel to make sure you know where you are.  I have to say that Yahoo search, which has answers more grounded in my reality, is not as good as Google.  By the time I was ready to leave my only option for dining was the Italian restaurant in the hotel.  I expected to find it near empty like so many hotel dining rooms in the USA seem to be. Nope, it was full up and I was turned away.  I got to the screening an hour early.  There they told me about the Festival party at City Hall.  That was just a short walk across the river.

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I don’t think the current situation here is optimum for appreciating the beauty of Tampere.  It must be beautiful in the spring.  It must be beautiful covered with fresh snow.  Right now the roads are all clear and dirty snow is left in the undisturbed areas.  I was still impressed with the beauty of the main town square and City Hall.  When I got to the party all the wine had  been drunk and there wasn’t much left of the food.  I put mixed nuts in my pocket for later.  Walking back across the bridge I was impressed with the  four giant statues of athletic men that guard the portals.  They might have been an inspiration to Tom of Finland.

It was another nice crowd for my show.  I gave the introduction and then went out looking for dinner.  I went back to the Italian restaurant in the hotel.  Any place that packed ought to be good.  I was seated and given a menu.  Since I had been living on breakfast, sandwiches, and beer, for the last two days, I decided to get the full meal special.  It would take the rest of my meal vouchers, which I was sure would be worth it.  It would be tomato soup, roast pork, risotto, and chocolate cake for dessert.  After the soup portion I waited.  Then I waited and waited.  After what I considered a more than reasonable to wait I tried to catch the eye of a waitress.  A half hour later I did.  I asked if my order had been lost.  Apparently it had been.  The roast pork soon arrived and was excellent.  It was also on the house.  it was too late for the cake.

I went back to the Tullikamarinaukio theater to watch William S. Burroughs A Man Within.  I enjoyed what I saw but then realized I had little interest in the subject. I realize this marks me as a near Philistine, but I would probably more enjoy a documentary about Edgar Rice Burroughs than William S. Burroughs.

I had been told there would be some sort of party starting at 10:00.  I went out and asked about it.  It wouldn’t start until after the screening.   Things couldn’t be more clearer.  It was time to go to the hotel and get some rest and prepare for another busy day.  The outing tomorrow was to be taken to a contemporary Indian art exhibition and then for a walk on the ice of lake Nasijarvi.

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Sauna Party!

 

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On the morning of March 10 I awoke for my first full day in Finland.  Being turned around in time my computer told me it was seven o’clock in the evening on the West Coast and here  I was waiting for the breakfast room to open. I was also turned around in weather. In Portland it might as well have been Spring.  Here it was the the middle of Winter. Walking into the very nice breakfast room with its three story ceiling decorated to resemble a castle in a silent movie I saw newspapers on the piano.  No International Herald Tribune there.  In fact nothing in the English language.  I asked for the Trib at the front desk.  Nope, it would take a walk to the train station to get one.  If it were summer, or even spring, I would have done it.  Here it was winter, it was dark, and there was snow and ice everywhere.  The fact I had not changed any money and only had a few Euros in coins found in my suitcase from last fall sealed the deal. I piled bacon, black sausage, bread, cold cuts, tiny frankfurters, and cheese on a plate. A small pot to put coffee in would have made it perfect.  Instead I took a single cup of coffee with me. It it had been better coffee I would have resented that.  In the elevator I had to put the coffee on the floor in order to use my keycard to let the pushing of the of the floor button take to effect. In my room I got the NY Times on line and dug into my victuals. Outside my window a red and gold flag was being blown at a right angle to its pole.  Occasionally it would reverse direction and blow the other way.  If this were Wrigley Field it would be a day for long balls and a score in double digits.

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I had tried to make my room as homey as possible with my suitcase empty and all clothes hung up or in a cupboard.  I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the flat screen TV so I unplugged it. I somehow managed to get to three in the afternoon without stepping a foot outside.  I finally girded my loins and went out to face the world.  I walked to to the Klubi where the festival office was to get my badge and whatever.  There I was directed to go to the guest office which was back past the Grand Hotel Tammer at a place called Plevna.  I walked past the the Hotel and  turned the wrong way. I was then  perplexed that I didn’t cross a body of water before finding where I was supposed to arrive at.  I cursed the tourist map.  I then realized it was my mistake, not the map’s, and reversed course.  Sure enough, I passed the hotel, crossed the river, and found Plevna and got my badge and bag of various things.One of those things was an explanation of Plevna. It was part an old cotton mill which had been established by Scotsman James Finlayson in 1820.

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Wow, that made me think of the great actor James Finlayson who had famously played the home owner in the Christmas tree selling fight with Laurel and Hardy in the film Big Business (1929) and in many, many others.

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Another of the things in the bag was an announcement that around the corner it was happy hour at the Fest Art center. I went there and had a glass of red wine while looking at Harun Farocki films. On the second floor of the center were photos and needle point art by Leena Saraste. The photos were from Beirut Lebanon in the 80’s showing scenes of both destruction and beauty. The needle point work included a thrirty foot long timeline history of photography. One stand alone piece was “The Medium Is the Message” in the medium of needle point. I loved it all.

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I went back to the hotel. In the bag were cash vouchers that would pay for meals. I planned to leave at 6:00 and have dinner before my show The Effect of Dada and Surrealism at 8:00. I decided to research Dada and Surrealism to make sure there would be no screwed up facts in my talk. That work took me to 7:00. I went to the theater and had a sandwich and a beer before the show. I then introduced the show and I hope did a good job. After that the fun started.

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The driver showed up at 8:20 to take me to the sauna party. There were others in the van. We all drove a way out of town to a lodge beside a lake. The party had started at 7:00.  We arrived and joined the men who had got there on time.  Among them was Mikko Sorrela who had taken the daunting task to find and buy the four flights that had got me to Tampere. Twenty of us chatted while the women had their sauna. We were provided with beer,wine and snacks.  Eventually  it was our turn. There was a small room to strip and get a robe. Then it was briefly outside, drop the robes, and step into the sauna. It was the only really old fashioned one in the area. It heated a really big pile of stones with both fire heat and smoke. That had taken several hours. Then the smoke was cleared from the room and people could enter. The rocks would stay hot all night and could be used for sauna in the morning. By the time I got in all of the seats in the upper level were taken. That meant standing in the lower area where it was less hot. I eventually got an upper seat. Then I left and jumped in the lake. Well, jump is not really correct, but I did wade in and immersed. Then it was back to the sauna and back into the lake a second time. I told the group that later they should all watch the youtube of the 1929 film production number Turn on the Heat.  Then it was time to drink a beer. To make things perfect it started snowing.  The group that had come in the bus left around 11:00. I stayed to the last and left closer to midnight with a group in the van.

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