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CHICAGO PUBLIC RADIO REVIEW, Jonathan Miller (link to segment)

"New wave of indie cinema fights power of Hollywood," Boston Globe May 28, 2006 (link to segment)

"A delightfully tongue-in-cheek homage to a fictional East German space project, Jim Finn's "Interkosmos" uses recreated newsreels combined with musical interludes to resurrect the '70s in all its Brezhnev-era glory. Similar in its mockumentary approach to "First People on the Moon" but with a broader sense of wry fun, pic uncannily captures the self-glorifying hyperbole and straight-faced seriousness of the Communist bloc's attempts to make a splash in the race to space. Adventurous fest auds will best appreciate this genuine crowd-pleaser.
More a series of similarly-themed sketches than a cohesively flowing unit, pic imagines East Germany leading the way in efforts to colonize the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Participating in the grand scheme for the betterment of an anti-capitalist world are cosmonauts Seagull (Nandini Khaund) and Falcon (helmer Finn), whose hesitant space romance, over intergalactic static, forms the core -- a deadpan recitation of "The Trolley Song" is priceless. Color footage is suitably tinged orange-pink with age, and music and art direction are impeccable; as a final tease, exit music is longer than in 'Gone With the Wind.'" – Jay Weissberg, Variety link

Best Shoestring SciFi of 2006
"Less deep but more far out, Interkosmos also uses faux documentary techniques to tell its space-exploration story. The style is thrift-store vintage, with a sprinkling of communist good cheer in a tale about a Soviet-era program. Writer-director-star Jim Finn wrote the script after he finished filming, less interested in building a narrative arc than in creating the proper tone.
Interkosmos includes newsreel footage of cosmonauts in training, cheap and charming animation and several musical interludes, including one of a field hockey team smacking balls for Marx and Lenin.
The film's central story thread features Falcon and Seagull, cosmonaut lovers flying separate spacecraft in parallel orbits. Their conversations, spiked with pregnant pauses, are far more banal than anything you'd overhear in a high-school cafeteria. Falcon sings to Seagull ("Clang clang clang went the trolley/Ding ding ding went the bell"). She tells him it sounds like capitalist trash. At times, Interkosmos' hip, deadpan style threatens to grow tiresome, but then Finn injects something unexpected to liven it up. By the end, Interkosmos has coalesced into a colorful portrait of an imagined time where movies and space travel were happy, bubbly things." – Jason Silverman, Wired link

"Jim Finn's Interkosmos, a retro gust of Communist utopianism, is set to open the New York Underground Film Festival on March 8. A cosmonaut romance set aboard a 1970s East German space mission to colonize the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, Interkosmos weaves together lovingly faked archival footage, charmingly undermotivated musical numbers, propagandistic maxims ("Capitalism is like a kindergarten of boneless children"), stop-motion animation (of a suitably crude GDR-era level), a Teutonic (and vaguely Herzogian) voiceover, and a superb garage-y Kraut-rock score (by Jim Becker and Colleen Burke). Finn's deadpan is immaculately bone-dry, and his antiquarian fastidiousness is worthy of Guy Maddin." – Dennis Lim, The Village Voice link

"Poker-faced, often hilarious, and endlessly inventive, this minimalist mockumentary by Chicago filmmaker Jim Finn uses a few established facts to invent a wild narrative about an international communist project to establish colonies on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Finn gets some of his giddiest effects filming his own animals and SF miniatures, imagining a letter written by an Indian astronaut on holiday to a colleague ("P.S. I have bought a hammock that smells of goat and Mexico"), and creating a solemn radio communication about "The Trolley Song." In short, this is very special. Colleen Burke and Jim Becker wrote the delightful percussive score." Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader link

"...American Jim Finn's Interkosmos, an unnervingly odd mock-doc about a putative East German space program, filled with Seventies 'staches, synth-beep semaphores, celestial rim-shots, poetically charged interstellar tine-can transmissions, and a string of autistically choreographed in-flight exercises..." Chuck Stephens, Film Comment

"...the debut feature film from Jim Finn....will undoubtedly become a cult classic. ...an almost anally-retentive eye for the iconography and fashions of the Soviet-era Warsaw pact countries, and a great ear for both the comedy intrinsic to Socialist propaganda dialogue - and pauses - this film is a serious rib-tickler for those who can appreciate lines such as "Capitalism is a kindergarten for boneless children", delivered deadpan." – Matthew Tempest, The Guardian link

Interkosmos, the first feature from experimental shorts director Jim Finn, successfully bridges the gap between the filmmaker's noggin and the comprehension of the audience. Not every notion fully registers, but Finn scores enough hits to mark this poker-faced saga of far-out space nuts as a transcendent goof.
Shot in an artfully cruddy mix of Super 8 and 16 mm, the film purports to tell the story of the theoretical East German space program, complete with a series of hilariously low-rent training programs and stress tests (watch out for the tarantula). From this fertile premise, Finn constructs a rather astonishing replica of boxy '60s Soviet style and tone, bolstered by a series of barely-there special effects (the Tinkertoy space colony is a particular delight), and a propulsive, gloriously kitschy soundtrack. The absurdly extended end-credit/musical coda sequence alone may be enough to warrant admission.
Narratively speaking, the film focuses on the burgeoning romance between female cosmonaut "Seagull" and the fiercely mustached "Falcon," mainly conducted via intercom from their respective orbits around the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Any real semblance of plot, however, is continually at the mercy of whatever the director feels like riffing on at the moment, be it a digression on the socialist nature of dolphins, or stop-motion animation of a guinea pig in a spacesuit, or, in what may be the film's highlight, a gloriously lead-footed musical number performed by rival field hockey teams. Taken individually, these scattershot non sequiturs don't always fly, with perhaps one too many musical interludes. On the whole, however, Finn's seemingly random whims combine to form some sort of wobbly, infectious gestalt. "Capitalism is like a kingdom of boneless children," Seagull wistfully intones at one point. Trust me, it works in context.– Andrew Wright, The Stranger (Seattle) link

“Everything does make sense in this movie,” claimed Chicago-based filmmaker Jim Finn when he introduced his experimental, pseudo-documentary film, Interkosmos, at the 2006 International Film Festival Rotterdam. Finn seemed to be preempting criticism that his 70-minute feature, part of the IFFR’s Sturm and Drang program of features and documentaries by young filmmakers investigating new angles in cinematography, was confusing or even disjointed¬—not the sort of introduction that usually inspires audience confidence. Yet, viewed from the right figurative angle, Interkosmos was an intriguing genre-bending fantasy. It posited the existence of a secret space program of the Soviet-dominated German Democratic Republic (a.k.a. East Germany) during the 1970s. The visual motif was ‘70s documentary; the footage appeared to come from the bowels of some long lost Communist film archive.
“The real basis of the film,” says Finn, who also stars, “aside from my obsession with Communism, was my fantasy about a utopian space exploration program.” The general lack of knowledge in the West about the GDR and communism gave Finn a lot of leeway to invent his own reality. Rather than making a straight faux documentary, however, Finn deliberately cut documentary-like elements, aiming for a more experimental work. Add to the mix a series of musical numbers, and it’s easy to understand how some viewers get lost. It wasn’t a shock when the Dutch audience not only followed the plot, but seemed quite taken with the visual style and anachronistic musical sequences. Indeed, Rotterdam has always focused on innovative, independent cinema from around the world, embracing the more offbeat, non-commercial undertakings. – Macauley Peterson, The Independent

Without question, the best avant-garde musical ever made about the East German space program's fictitious 1970s race to colonize Jupiter's and Saturn's moons; and I'd say that even if there were (or would ever be) another. Writer-director Jim Finn's one-of-a-kind film incorporates NASA footage, berserk production numbers, high-school-play space-capsule interiors and straight-faced newsreel footage to create a fantasy that's at once bare-bones minimal yet weirdly grand: Rushmore's Max Fischer Players Present Solaris. Not to mention that it's frequently funny as hell; as when one cosmonaut (Finn) woos his chilly comrade with a broken-transmission rendition of The Trolley Song. – Jim Ridley, Nashville Scene link

Finally, a new work that seemed to sit between the low-fi aesthetic of super8 and the glossy orchestrations of Barney was the brilliant and perverse Interkosmos by American artist Jim Finn. The film is a fictional documentary on an imagined Communist East German space programme, told through photographs, test and training footage and a series of infectious specially recorded German pop songs. The film's ironic formality and mock-seriousness creates an absurdist atmosphere. Typically unclassifiable the film testifies to Rotterdam’s enduring place as a home for all forms of the moving image.– Film London link

"Jim Finn's "Interkosmos", meanwhile, isn't quite the documentary it seems: using archive footage to help chart an invented '70s Soviet interplanetary programme, its witty blend of cosmic wonder and campy bathos bears comparison with Herzog's "Wild Blue Yonder'. " – Time Out London

"...the eclectic score - by Jim Becker and Colleen Burke - is so evocative and perfectly-judged it deserves a CD release of its own: this is the best krautrock-spaceopera soundtrack that Can never wrote." Neil Young, Jigsaw Lounge

"A musical of sorts in its own right, Interkosmos is a meticulously crafted faux documentary about a fictitious 1970s East German space mission. Transcending mere Communist kitsch, it may be the first film to thank both Judy Garland and Hugo Chavez in the closing credits." Joshua Land, The Village Voice

The most pleasantly oddball film screened was Chicago filmmaker Jim Finn's "InterKosmos," a faux-found document which places a romance against the backdrop of a 1970s East German space program. Finn seamlessly blends actual space footage with his own lovingly handcrafted and carefully art directed scenes of Eastern Block cocktail parties, field hockey teams and space capsules. With a propulsive, playful score by Jim Becker and Colleen Burke, as well as likely the strangest version of "The Trolley Song" ever recorded, the film is an endearing delight.– Mark Olsen, IndieWire link

Interkosmos (2006) opened NYUFF and it brings up a good question: why must the socialist musical be a dead genre? This feature debut by Jim Finn is the much anticipated sequel to his 2002 short wüstenspringmaus, about the behavior of the capitalist gerbil. At the NYUFF screening, Finn confessed to being “obsessed with Communism,” and his resurrection of stereotypically crude Eastern Bloc propaganda aesthetics was much appreciated by a packed house of hipster-nerds. The mockumentary is made from “found footage” Finn actually made himself with the help of cinematographers Dean DeMatteis and Butcher Walsh, who screwed up the exposures to give a faded, Cold War-era feel to the images. The title describes a real international Communist space program from the ’70s, but this East German Interkosmos project is invented: the characters—played by actors, crew members, and the director (as Cosmonaut Falcon)—are on a mission to establish a colony, as well as a library to house Marxist materials, on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Interspersed among shots of cosmonauts sleeping and NASA footage of space are black and white snippets of a dinner party that Finn modeled after photographs he had seen of Communist bureaucrats actually looking like they are having fun. The soundtrack incorporates readings from the Communist Manifesto, a Kraut-rock score (produced by musicians Jim Becker and Colleen Burke), and even a Busby Berkeley-ish musical number with a field hockey team creating sickle and hammer patterns. – mondokims link


(Falso) documentário musical sobre uma ambiciosa missão espacial (falhada) de colonização das luas de Júpiter e Saturno na década de 70, com números de dança a ecoar as cornucópias visuais de Busby Berkeley. Podia ser um sonho alucinogénico em que os anos dourados de Hollywood se encontram com a Alemanha de Leste comunista. Isto é INTERKOSMOS, uma fantasia em longa-metragem realizada pelo americano Jim Finn, com um visual retro-socialista arrojado e uma banda-sonora de excepção. Material de arquivo, teorias da conspiração e uma história dramática reunem-se naquilo que Finn descreveu como “uma história de amor comunista e um hino fúnebre a uma experiência com 75 anos”.  – c7nema link (translation below)

(False) musical documentary about an ambitious (failed) space colonization mission to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn in the 1970s, with dance numbers echoing the visual cornucopias of Busby Berkeley. it could be an hallucinogenic dream of the golden age of Hollywood meeting communist East Germany. That's Interkosmos - a feature-length fantasy directed by American Jim Finn with a retro-socialist visual style and an outstanding soundtrack. Archival footage, conspiracy theories, and a dramatic plot combine in what Finn calls "a communist love story and a funeral dirge to a 75-year-old experiment."

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published in Dutch magazine Glamcult

 

 

 

 

SELECTED PRESS FOR JIM FINN
"Jim Finn's Wustenspringmaus, a well-sprung, rear-screened account of a gerbil's life in the Seventies."
Guy Maddin, Film Comment

"La Ardilla (2004), an entry in Jim Finn's 'loteria' video series, samples a glowing Rocio Durcal and Juan Gabriel duet while the lovestruck Finn courts a skittish amour. As the legends croon, 'desde el principio / te quiero, te quiero, te quiero', Finn beckons tenderly, patiently, and finally has you, and the squirrel, nibbling from his seductively pursed lips."
Senses of Cinema

"Finn's chilling Super-Max is tour of maximum security prisons shot from a moving car, their hulking forms framed by telephone poles and power lines that divide landscape and sky. The concluding voice-over, making reference to Lewis and Clark, implicitly equates the European occupation of this continent with imprisonment."
Fred Camper, Chicago Reader

"El Moro [from la loteria series] (3:00, Jim Finn) A strangely sweet musical homage to the most lovable communist dictator the world has ever seen, set to the sweet soothing sound of Leonard Nimoy's " Ballad of Bilbo Baggins."
Clamor Magazine

Letterpressed Interkosmos poster designed by Dean DeMatteis and printed by Dexterity Press, Chicago dexteritypress@hotmail.com