Saturday, April 17, 2010

Reindeerspotting - pako Joulumaasta

Reindeerspotting - flykten från Jullandet / Reindeerspotting - Escape from the Santa Land. FI (c) 2010 Bronson Club. P: Jesse Fryckman, Oskari Huttu. D: Joonas Neuvonen. SC: Joonas Neuvonen, Sadri Cetinkaya. DP: Joonas Neuvonen - colour - mini dv - blow-up to 35 mm. S: Joonas Jyrälä, Panu Riikonen. ED: Sadri Cetinkaya. LOC: Rovaniemi, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Christiania, Paris, Cefalu, Sicily, Rome, Spain, Africa. Featuring: Jani. 84 min. In Finnish. Released by Nordisk Film with Swedish subtitles. Viewed at Tennispalatsi 6, Helsinki, 17 April 2010.

A documentary film on young drug addicts in Rovaniemi, one of the most Northern cities in the world.

There is a compelling drive in this film. It is a first-person narrative of the 19-year-old Jani. He is addicted to Subutex and tries to escape the vicious circle by robbing a supermarket. With a travel budget of 5000 Euro he leaves Rovaniemi for the first time. His odyssey takes him to Stockholm, Copenhagen, Christiania, Paris, Cefalu, Sicily, Rome, Spain, and Africa, all the time in the company of Joonas Neuvonen with his mini dv camera. Back home he faces a prison sentence of two years.

There has been a debate of the film's rating (18) in Finland. The film shows in detail how to access and use Subutex, heroin, marijuana, etc. It shows a model of life based on despair and self-destruction. It also shows the pleasure and euphoria of drug use. This is a strong and honest film but the film-makers play with fire. With certain audiences in a certain young age despair and self-destruction can be lucrative. Jani's story is terrible, yet he can be seen as a role model as we know from the reception of Christiane F.

There is an ethical dilemma in this film. As a rule it's unethical to have a defenseless person (mentally imbalanced, addicted, etc.) appear in a documentary film, but this film is obviously based on mutual commitment. We trust that Jani is not being exploited, abused, and harmed by the film-making.

Some of the strongest films of the last decade were about drugs: Traffic, Blow, and Requiem for a Dream. These accounts of drug use and drug traffic emerged as visions of instant gratification, the short attention span, and the irresponsibility of big business.

There is the same sense of profoundness and of "drug as metaphor" in Reindeerspotting. Themes beneath the surface include displacement, alienation, social erosion, rootlessness, and modern solitude.

Jani is lost. How can we help him?


Siru said...

Baby-faced Jani's story kept my interest. It had to - as technically film is truly poor. It's more suitable for the telly than for the big screen.

For my eyes there was no euphoria of drug use in this film. I would show it to youngsters (say from age 12 up). Jani and co. acted so stupidly that no one can keep them as role models.

Partly film was amusing but at the same time I felt I shouldn't be laughing as their lives were full of misery. Addiction is no picnic.

Jani had moments of clarity. I wouldn't say he's lost. At least his story might keep others out of similar trouble.

Hopefully film gets even bigger audience when Yle TV2 shows it.

AnttiAlanen said...

Yesterday, 8 September 2010, the news was released that Jani has died in Cambodia. At the time of the premiere of Reindeerspotting he travelled to Far East and never came back. Reindeerspotting has enjoyed an extraordinary box office success, and it has become the most popular Finnish documentary film of the recent decades.