Friday, October 26, 2012

Sinivalkoinen valhe / When Heroes Lie

Den blåvita lögnen / När hjältarna ljuger [Swedish title in Sweden] / Når heltane lyg [Norwegian title]. FI © 2012 Art Films Productions AFP Oy. P+D: Arto Halonen. SC: Kevin Frazier, Arto Halonen, Jouni Kemppainen - idea: Iikka Vehkalahti. DP: Arto Halonen, Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen - many different cameras, many cameramen - main camera a big HD camera with a zoom lens and HD resolution. D-cinema mastering: Tommi Gröhn. Colour grader: Pasi Mäkelä. M: Tapani Rinne. S: Martti Turunen. ED: Sanna Liinamaa, Antti Tuomikoski. Multi-lingual. 119 min. Released by Future Film with Finnish / Swedish subtitles n.c. 2K DCP (presumably). Viewed at Kinopalatsi 5, Helsinki, 26 Oct 2012.

Interviewees: JOHANNA AATSALO, TIMO ARASOLA, RENZO BARDELLI, MAGNAR DALEN, MANUELA DI CENTA, BJÖRN EKBLOM, PEKKA HOLOPAINEN, SONJA HUTTUNEN, VEIJO HÄMÄLÄINEN, TIMO HÄRKÖNEN, MIKKO JAATINEN, KARI KAJAUS, KAARLO KANGASNIEMI, EDO KELTER, SAMULI KIVIRANTA, SARI KOPRA, ERJA KUIVALAINEN, HEIKKI LAAPIO, PEKKA LEHTINEN, INGGARD LEREIM, SUVI LINDÉN, MARJO MATIKAINEN-KALLSTRÖM, RAIMO MATIKAINEN, PIRKKO MÄÄTTÄ, EIJA PELKONEN, JARI PIIRAINEN, RIKU RANTALA, SEPPO REHUNEN, TAPANI RISSANEN, VILJO SADEHARJU, JAANA SANTALA, TIMO SEPPÄLÄ, ELENA SIMANAINEN, JARKKO SIPILÄ, HARRI SYVÄSALMI, ERKKI VETTENNIEMI, JUHA VIERTOLA, KARI VÄISÄNEN, JAN ANDERSSON, SILVANO BARCO, DARIO BELLODIS, MAURILIO DE ZOLT, SANDRO DONATI, SAMI HEISKANEN, TIMO HUOVINEN, PERTTU HUUSKO, KAIJA HÄRKIN, HANNU ITKONEN, MARKKU JYLHÄSALO, TAPIO KALLIO, ESA KATTAINEN, LEILA KETOLA, JOUKO KOKKONEN, ARI KORHONEN, IMMO KUUTSA, MATTI LEHESJOKI, ANTTI LEPPÄVUORI, SARAH LEWIS, JOHANNA MATINTALO, JUHA MIETO, JUSSI MERIKALLIO, HELGE OFTEBRO, PAAVO M. PETÄJÄ, GIUSEPPE PULIÈ, OLLI RAUSTE, JARMO RISKI, SEPPO ROMPPAINEN, BENGT SALTIN, JAANA SAVOLAINEN, SUVI-ANNE SIIMES, JUSSI SIMANAINEN, PIERGUIDO SOPRANI, ARI TUULI, TAPIO VIDEMAN, KIMMO VIRTANEN, EMMA ÅMAN.

The official synopsis: "When Heroes Lie is a daring documentary which deals with the grim history of doping in Finnish cross country skiing and exposes the web of lies in world championship sport. The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2001 in Lahti was designed to be yet another climax in Finnish cross-country skiing. It was not to be. Instead, there was a "shame of catastrophic dimensions" as six Finnish skiers were caught in the use of forbidden substances. After the collective bust questions remained: was it all about a fleeting transgression and "amateurish dabbling" or a systematic, fully planned and global fraud?"

"When Heroes Lie covers the history of doping in cross-country skiing since the 1970s until today, the dramatic turns of the Lahti Ski Championships in 2001 and the doping news trial against STT [Suomen Tietotoimisto, the leading Finnish news agency] which started in 1998. As a result of a long and comprehensive reasearch the movie offers a lot of new information about the doping culture in Finnish cross-country skiing: how it started, how widespread it was and who were the central players. The movie contains interviews with Finnish and international experts, coaches and sportspeople and archival material from different sources. They contribute to a ruthless picture about a system in which heroes were created at no matter which cost - by any means necessary and the audience was not too particular, either."

"Via the example of sport the movie shows how our society creates a foundation for a hypocritical pursuit of victory. It also raises the question whether the distortions of sport are reflections of the distortions of the society. Whether the society in general functions along similar ground rules." (The official synopsis, translation mine).

Cross-country skiing is my favourite sport as an occasional Sunday sportsman, but I haven't watched sports games since I was a kid in the 1960s. I feel sympathy for the Finnish "karpaasi" top skiers who were caught in the doping scandals in 2001. They did the wrong thing, but they would have been great athletes - or even greater ones - if they had not resorted to doping. Watching this movie I realise how overwhelming the pressure must have been since the 1970s.

The key testimony comes from Kaija Härkin who found religion and a way out of the anxiety that led her to depression and suicidal thoughts because of the vicious circle of sedatives and stimulants required of her. According to her the general brutalization took place in the 1970s. Previously the ski sport was basically clean.

Sinivalkoinen valhe is a settling of accounts of the huge web of lies related to the ubiquitous doping culture in Finnish ski sport. Much of this has been in general knowledge, but the movie expands its wings to cover a wider field.

Listening to testimonies from Sweden, Norway and Italy one cannot help but deduce that doping is the global modus vivendi in top ski sport. The evidence is convincing, and the footage of the squirming interviewees who try to testify otherwise is telling.

Mika Myllylä (1969-2011) is a martyr of this story. "What is the point of sustaining such an enormous system of fraud?" "You have to store in your memory every single step sign: how did I lie here?"

A movie which occurred to me after seeing Sinivalkoinen was Shadow of a Doubt by Alfred Hitchcock. At my most recent viewing of it I paid attention to the gallows humour about the crushing stress of Uncle Charlie having to lie at every single step and to remember how he has lied in order to avoid being exposed as a serial killer.

Even more generally, Sinivalkoinen valhe is a contribution to the Ibsenian theme of livsløgn - the life-lie - a fraudulent foundation myth.

For top skiers a gold medal translated into big money (ten million Finnish marks) in sponsorship deals. For some of the skiers a top career opened up in politics. The Italian MP Manuela Di Centa's interrupted interview is memorable. The agony on the Finnish MP Marjo Matikainen's face is the most unforgettable impression of the movie. They should tell all, they should tell the truth, and everybody would be happier and freer. Their talent is undeniable, and it is wrong that they had to compete in a system that forced them to resort to doping.

Compilation quality with lots of low definition television and video footage. No problem with new interview close-up footage made for this movie. There is no attempt to convey visually the grandeur of the ski sport.
Rough notes: - The Lahti World Ski Championships in 2001 - The STT trial in 1998 - the new STT trial in 2011 - I: Inggard Lereim - the Hemohes revelation - I: Tapio Videman - I: Timo Huovinen - the one million Finnish mark deal: Isometsä to carry all responsibility - I: Pekka Vähäsöyrinki - doping already in 1978 - I: Sandro Donati - Finns were the first to use blood transfusions as doping - I: Björn Ekbom - I: Immo Kuutsa - I: Kaarlo Kangasniemi - The Koljonniemi Mental Hospital as the site where the blood of the skiers were changed - I: Tapani Rissanen - I: Raimo Matikainen - almost all Finnish ski champions used doping - I: Kauppinen: no - The archive of YLE the Finnish Broadcasting Company at first was not about to release material for the documentary - "not supposed to use in a negative light to the sport" - Arto Karvonen was converted into religion and made a full confession - Veijo Hämäläinen - I: Seppo Rehunen - I: Kari-Pekka Kyrö on the police interrogation videotape - I: Ari Tuuli - tankero English (Finnish expression for unpronounced English, in memory of the Secretary of State Ahti Karjalainen who pronounced "dangerous" as "tankerous" not following English prononciation but the Finnish one, similar to Italian) - punahonka (red pine) - I: Harri Syväsalmi - I: Mika Myllylä (1969-2011) - I: Suvi Lindén - I: Timo Seppälä - misunderstanding, bad luck - the one who is caught assumes all responsibility - I: Eero Mäntyranta - a 15 min alert to conduct the Hemohes treatment - 1988: Marjo Matikainen - 1989: Erja Kuivalainen saw her EPO bottle - "I said I won't take off with tricky methods" - "when championship games started the difference leaped into minutes" - I: Erkki Vettenniemi - I: Marjo Matikainen: the agony on her face * - I: Pekka Vähäsöyrinki: no comment - WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) - I: Janne Immonen - I: Sari Kopra - "one only apologized for getting caught" - I: Juha-Pekka Turpeinen - "the international armament race" in doping - there was a Finnish-Russian program - the Volgushev memorandum - Sotkamo was a checkpoint of organized smuggling of doping substances from Russia - I: Sarparanta: agreed to be interviewed, never showed up - several interviews were agreed on but the interviewee never appeared - the big pharmaceutical corporation Orion was involved in illegal distribution of substances for sportspeople [I understand the substances are legal medicine for patients with diseases] - I: Pekka Järvensivu - I: Erja Pelkonen - I: Terhi Oramo: no comments - I: Timo Arasola - there was a fashion of "Hemohes shots" in bars: anything that was red could be called so - I: Kari-Pekka Kyrö: Klinga: if a problem emerges, I don't know anything - I: Jouko Kokkonen - I: Vilho Sadeharju - ITALY - Professor Francesco Conconi - Donati: almost alone - all the top people were involved - Carmelo Bosco (her daughter: Manuela Bosco) - Silvano Barco: there was pressure, but I did not tacke - in Italy, Conconi put pressure to take doping - I: Pierguido Soprani - the crimes in Italy, a doping law to Italy - Italy-Finland: Manuela Di Centa - impossible to succeed without medicine - I: Manuela Di Centa: I want a big skyscraper * - I: Dario Bellodis: the blood transfusions were disgusting - I: Manuela Di Centa: "maestosa, grande" (qf. Don Giovanni, the catalog aria), doping? absolutely no; top politician with Forza Italia, the Berlusconi party - after the Manuela Di Centa interview Albarello withdrew from the interview - they did not dare meet us - Albarello, Fauner - De Zolt did not withdraw - Conconi: no interviews - victims of the system - I: Punkkinen: no interview - the whole team to be tested - NORWAY: illnesses, suicides - if the truth were out, there would be no heroes - I: Helge Ofterbro - the members of the committees leak information - there are invisible methods - the best tests are not wanted - manipulation takes place - Sarah Lewis - 47: too little blood - 50% abnormal - samples banned - I: Sarah Lewis - I: Bengt Saltin - I: Arthur Forsberg - Myllylä left panicked - I: Riku Rantala - the bag of medicine five days before the games - I: Jan Andersson - in the bag there was the information of Suomen Hiihtoliitto [The Finnish Ski Organization] - "we will never talk anymore" - the sponsor logos covered - I: Edo Kelter - Kari-Pekka Kyrö and the media - the sportsperson gets a ban of two years, the coach for life - Leppävuori - they carry the responsibility alone - the awareness has been wide - sport journalism has been on a low level - I: Leppävuori - there is a strong interest to protect the basic business - Kyrö has been shrewd and intelligent - I: Suvi Linden [then the minister of culture and sport]: they lied to me, "päin naamaa mulle valehdeltiin" - the press conference prepared by Petäjä - the value of a gold medal: ten million Finnish marks in sponsorship deals - we were thrown like into a cauldron of hell - Suomen Hiihtoliitto: the coaches were fired - there were death threats - never had there been so much press coverage on Finland since the Winter War - the shame was on the entire people - I: Tapio Kallio: doping is always ahead of the testing - only Virpi Kuitunen made it back to the top again - I: Virpi Kuitunen: no - I: Harri Kirvesniemi: no - Mika Myllylä: yes I have - "what is the point of sustaining such an enormous system of fraud?" - "you have to remember every single step sign: how did I lie here?" - fraud - one week after the verdict Mika Myllylä was found dead - I: Punkkinen - I: Kaija Härkin *: 30 years ago the vicious circle drove me into a dead end - I had thoughts of suicide - then: Jesus, do you really exist? - the doping culture in Finland started in the early 1970s - Immo Kuutsa - before, it was all natural (luomu) - then it was brutalized - the hormone research was launched - there was a condition of professional secrecy - the persistent cover-up was agonizing - you took sedatives, then you took stimulants - since Kaija Härkin became religious she has been honest - Kirvesniemi asked: "pidä mölyt mahassa" = "keep it to yourself" - for many years I was skiing astray - "me, me, me" - "pääparka suurenee kuin rehunauris" = "your poor head gets blown up like turnip fodder" - Tapio Videman asked me to join the hormone experiment - I: Tapio Videman: this is entertainment business - the tests are a PR activity - we try to sell purity.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

do you know if there's a copy with english subtitles?

Anonymous said...

is the video somewhere in english german?