Friday, June 17, 2016

Mannerlaatta / Tectonic Plate

FI 2016
Ohjaus/Director: Mika Taanila
Teksti/Text: Harry Salmenniemi
Graafinen suunnittelu/Graphic Design: Markus Pyörälä
Leikkaus/Editing: Mika Taanila
Ääni/Sound: Olli Huhtanen
Musiikki/Music: Mika Vainio
Tuotanto/Production: Elokuvayhtiö Testifilmi Oy
Tuottaja/Producer: Jussi Eerola
Esityskopio/Print Source: Testifilmi / Mika Taanila
Esitysformaatti/Format: 2K DCP
Kieli/Language: Finnish version
74 min
    Made without a camera on 35 mm film.
    There is a Finnish version and an English version. Neither can have additional subtitles.
    Midnight Sun Film Festival (MSFF), Sodankylä.
    In the presence of Mika Taanila introduced by Olaf Möller.
    Finnish version screened at the Little Top, Sodankylä, 17 June 2016

Lauri Timonen (MSFF catalog): "Mika Taanila is one of Finland’s most important and internationally acknowledged filmmakers. His Tectonic Plates examines the boundaries of the silver screen and the possibilities of expression. The film about fear of flying, security checks and time zones was made completely without a camera, and the segments of the moving image by photocopying documents about flying directly onto film, in addition of which Taanila utilises darkroom-made photograms, thus piercing out the deeper states of existence of banal objects."

"The text stream of announcements and warnings, at the same time familiar-feeling and nightmarish – almost like the pounding waves towards the bow of l’Atalante – flows hypnotically through the silver screen, challenging its boundaries into a virtually cosmic game. The dizzy feeling connected with fear of flying comes across strong, sometimes even ironically enriching the experience from the shadows of the bottle of heartburn pills."

"Using the methods of Lettrism (e.g. Prince’s music video Sign O’ the Times), Taanila searches for the independent echo of letters, syllables and phones over the conventional meaning of words. The various levels of panic and symptoms open up in a way that will burn in the viewer’s mind even weeks after this unique cinematic experience."

AA: Mika Taanila has always been interested in films made without camera, without image, even. He is aware that the question about the affinity with radiophony, with the radioplay is then relevant. Tectonic Plate, his Lettrist film, created in collaboration with the poet Harry Salmenniemi, is a film of strong visuals and strong sounds.

Taanila links himself to the official wave of Lettrism launched by Isidore Isou in 1945, its cinematic current launched in 1951 by Isou and Maurice Lemaître. In Finland he quotes the influence of the poet Kari Aronpuro, especially his collage novel Aperitiff - avoin kaupunki (1965). Isou acknowledged that the primus motor for Lettrism was Dadaism, especially Tristan Tzara. Also Apollinaire and the Surrealists were relevant. There are influences in Finland since the 1920s (Tulenkantajat = The Torch Bearers), including also Aaro Hellaakoski's Jääpeili [Ice Mirror].

Tectonic Plate is an original and powerful work of modern poetry in the form of cinema. Every great poem reinvents poetry, and Tectonic Plate is such a poem. Internationally there is an affinity with French artists like Godard, Marker, and Resnais. (Lettrism is relevant also in Godard. In his last period even Walt Disney was influenced by Lettrism in his Winnie the Pooh movies).

This is a stream of consciousness movie. It is about jet lag, and like all experimental films, a philosophical study on perception. Flyers, frequent or not, face the categories of time and space. Boarding passes, security checks, bulletin boards, and announcements in terminals become fodder for this poem.

The jungle of signals, the discomfort of modern flying, the fatigue due to a quick passage to a distant time zone, all contribute to a sense of chaos. But in this film there is an order, a structure, and a rhythm, visually and musically. The rhythm is engrossing, and the film is an exercise in making poetic sense out of incoherence.

Tectonic Plate is witty and humoristic. There are poetic insights, satirical remarks, one-liners, and non sequiturs. Harry Salmenniemi's poetry appears as intertitles. Tectonic Plate is a contender to a list of films with the best intertitles.


Flicker - stardust - scratches - announcements
Thunder - dirt - rhythmical graphic patterns
Escalator - crescendo - visual - aural

Noise - interference - jam - as means of expression
Ritardando - accelerando
Sound - image synchrony

Meaningful text (Salmenniemi)
Meaningless text (graphic static)

Musique concrète
Cosmic music
Space music

X-Ray images

The history of poetry and cinema.
Homer. Goethe. Pushkin. Baudelaire. Runeberg. Ibsen. Auden. Salmenniemi.

Rhythm. Calm / hectic
Action and contemplation
Sound and silence

Ultra fast edits.
White light.

Self in the modern world.
Echoes of the space.
Black screen.

Philosophy of perception.

The sound of rain from the outside.
The smell of the wet grass in the Little Top.
Fleeting shadows of the tent structure on the screen when there is light from behind.

Text conveying meaning.
Text as a meaningless carpet of letters of the alphabet.

An ultra long zoom-out from the legal terms of insurance.
Security checks.
Landing strips.

Intertitles as lines of poetry / aphorisms / one-liners.
An affinity with Jean-Luc Godard (Adieu au langage).
And Chris Marker (La Jetée) and Alain Resnais (Je t'aime, je t'aime).

Organic / synthetic.
Reinventing poetry. Reinventing music.
White screen / mindscreen.

Twilight's last gleaming.
An announcement in Japanese.

Jet lag.
Categories of time and space.
Bonus programs for frequent flyers.

Found images and texts.
Attachments of experiences.

The rhythm, the pulse, the sound.
Flight departure announcements.
Flight departure bulletin boards.
Jungles of numbers.

Jacques Tati.
Immanuel Kant: the things that awe me most: the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.



Original title: Mannerlaatta
English title: Tectonic Plate
director: Mika Taanila
text: Harry Salmenniemi
English translation: Lola Rogers
music: Mika Vainio
graphic design: Markus Pyörälä
sound design: Olli Huhtanen
producer: Jussi Eerola
production company: Elokuvayhtiö Testifilmi Oy
74 minutes
DCP, 1:1,85, b&w
country of production: Finland
WORLD PREMIERE at Berlinale Forum Expanded, February 2016
A camera-less lettrist film about fear of flying, security checks and time zones.

Short synopsis:

A camera-less lettrist film about fear of flying, security checks and time zones.

After returning from a trip to Tokyo, the nameless protagonist is inexplicably stuck at a hotel nearby the Helsinki airport. With multi-tasking the attention and activity of the individual are divided into several directions at once. The use of various technical devices, slivers the time-management and modifies the jet-lagged consciousness.

Long synopsis:

Tectonic Plate is a camera-less lettrist film about fear of flying, security checks and time zones.

After returning from a lengthy business trip to Tokyo, the protagonist is inexplicably stuck at a hotel nearby the Helsinki airport. The events are fixed to the character’s multi-tasking, in which the attention and activity of the individual are divided into several directions at once. The use of various technical devices, such as phones, computers and heart rate monitors, slivers his time-management and modifies the consciousness.

The episodes of text and of moving image alternate in the narration of this dualistic work.

Text, which will be seen on the screen as such, depicts the observations and the inner reality of the protagonist and his nervous system amidst the life-style of constant jet lag.

The techniques used for the moving images are photocopying documents related to air travel directly onto clear 35 mm film and darkroom exposure of objects placed on 35 mm reversal film (photograms). 

About the techniques used

Tectonic Plate is a lettrist film that is based on a specifically compiled text, written by poet Harry Salmenniemi. Traditionally the reader is in control of at what pace they choose to read. This time the pace is pre-set by someone else. Text “happens” to the reader.

Episodes of text and of moving image alternate in the narration of this dualistic work.

Texts will be seen on the screen as such, not with images. Our protagonist’s observations are constantly changing; the mind wanders from one subject and content to another.

Tectonic Plate moves back and forth between the coherent subject of first-person poetry and the poetry shifting towards the materiality of experimental language. The work includes both extremely beautiful, lyrical moments as well as monotonous masses of text.

The style of imposition is always ascetically austere and minimalistic.

The techniques we use for the moving images are photocopying directly onto clear 35mm film and darkroom exposure of 35mm film negative without a camera (photogram). Each frame is independent and different and there is no absolute “frame line”. Once the movie is projected at 24 frames per second, the viewer won’t necessarily be able to absorb all information from the quickly flashing images, but most of it, yes. The photochemical film includes haphazard organic elements like dust and impurities. The material is intensely present in textures.

The outer, objectively perceivable reality is represented on the film surface by, for example, boarding passes, Minigrip bags (for liquids under 100ml), paperclips, dust, after-shave, perfume, broken glass, fine wool yarn (a knit unravelled), ash, a mobile charger, bullets, customer cards, leftover sushi, muesli, cholesterol medication, jewellery, loose pencil lead 0,7 HB and a ruler. – Mika Taanila & Harry Salmenniemi

Director’s word

Machines of public and private control determine the international lifestyle of permanent jet-laggers.

The time spent daily with screens of various kinds is greater that direct human contact. Lonesome monitoring of bodily functions has become a respectful past-time norm.

Tectonic Plate uses minimalistic means to a maximum effect. Texts revolving around air-travel alternate with stream-of-consciousness avalanches of objects flickering on-screen.

The wave motion between accelerating speed and stillness is also central on the audio track: from massive layers of sound to more discreet sonic textures to absolute silence.

Rhythm is central and resembles music. At times the rhythm is stuttering and banging, at times softly lingering. Since there are no figurative images captured with a camera, a whole and intact world is formed by the flat black/white silhouettes of photocopies and photograms, by the letters, words, fonts and the setting: the parallel shadow world.

The method of composing

Tectonic Plate is filled with restricted randomness, chance operations within limits. The film desires to take cinematic means down to its basic elements, towards ancient shadowplays and camera obscuras of the cave people. The objective: encourage the viewer to be the active protagonist. The notions of memories, mistaken memories and haphazard emptiness play a significant role here in these reflective scenarios.

Since in Tectonic Plate everything is created without a camera, this project also touches the tradition of anti-illusionist, materialist film-making of the early 1970s, now bringing it to the 2020s mind-set.
Tectonic Plate proposes a set-up for a possible “unseen movie”. – Mika Taanila

Writer's word

Paranoia is at the core of flying. At the airport, everyone is suspected, everything is controlled, and a baggage left alone is enough to produce chaos.

While constant security checks are humiliating, they are, of course, necessary for the system. To enjoy the freedom of air traveling, one has to accept standing in the line and being body checked. Ever increasing security is making flying more and more difficult, but at the same time safer.
As airports tend to be uninteresting and expensive places, and sitting in the plane is pretty much the opposite of comfort, the flying companies face a difficult task in promoting flying as a pleasant experience. For a writer, the language used in this marketing is of a great interest.

When writing Tectonic Plate, I was following up twitter accounts of different flying companies and airports. I've seldom seen so desperate communication. After all, it's not easy to convince that a sandwich in a plastic box is simply a delicious meal and that sitting still for ten hours represents the utmost freedom. However, there is some beauty in this marketing language, and I must confess I fell in love with the complexity of different bonus systems.

I knew the text would be essential in creating a story for the film. But I didn't want a traditional story, I wanted a futurist one: rather many contradicting stories and possibilities than one story line. A lot of paranoia, honesty about the fear of death, some moments of beauty, some confusing jokes, and big plates of ready made text - and all this wrapped in the pseudo-rational context created by prologue and epilogue. – Harry Salmenniemi

Director bio:

Mika Taanila (b. 22 May 1965 in Helsinki) is a film director / visual artist based in Helsinki. His projects address the notion of human engineering and the progress of technological evolution in modern age. Taanila’s films have been screened at several international film festivals and special events. Festival screenings include Toronto International Film Festival, IFFR Rotterdam, CPH:DOX, International Short Film Festival Clermont-Ferrand, Karlovy-Vary Film Festival, Midnight Sun Film Festival, IDFA Amsterdam and Oberhausen Kurzfilmtage. Taanila’s moving image installations have been shown at major international group shows, such as Aichi Triennale (2013), Documenta (2012), Shanghai Biennale (2006), Berlin Biennale (2004), Manifesta (2002) and Istanbul Biennial (2001). Solo shows include Hämeenlinna Art Museum (2015), Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki (2013–14), Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2013), TENT, Rotterdam (2013), Galleria Heino, Helsinki (2010), Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2008), Dazibao, Montréal (2007) and Migrosmuseum, Zurich (2005). In May 2015 he was presented The Ars Fennica Award.

Mika Taanila’s selected filmography:
Return of The Atom (2015, 110 min., co-dir. with Jussi Eerola)
SSEENNSSEESS (2013, 55 min, with live music by Circle)
My Silence (2013, 15 min)
Six Day Run (2013, 15 min)
The Zone of Total Ecli
pse (2006, 6 min)
Optical Sound (2005, 6 min)
Future Is Not What It Used To Be (2002, 52 min)
A Physical Ring (2002, 4 min)
RoboCup99 (2000, 25 min)
Futuro – A New Stance for Tomorrow (1998, 28 min)

Harry Salmenniemi (b. 1983) is one of the most prominent young Finnish contemporary poets. He has published five poetry books, Virrata että (2008), Teksas, sakset (2010), Runojä (2011), Kivirivit (2013) and Pimeän lehdet (2015), as well as edited the Vastakaanon, an anthology of experimental poetry together with Juri Joensuu and Marko Niemi. Salmenniemi has received several awards in Finland, e.g. Kalevi Jäntti Award in 2010. Salmenniemi wrote the text for the circus act Nopeussokeus / Speed Blindness by Kalle Nio, which has, to date, been performed in over 20 countries. Several of Salmenniemi’s poems have been composed for choir, and his first opera Autuus (comp. Antti Auvinen) premiered 2015. Mannerlaatta will be the first time Salmenniemi’s texts are widely presented in an international context. He is based in Jyväskylä, Finland.

Mika Vainio (b. 1963) is one of the pioneers of minimalist techno. He has been making critically acclaimed solo recordings since 1993 and during 1993–2013 he was the second half of highly influential duo Pan sonic, together with Ilpo Väisänen. Vainio has collaborated for example with Alan Vega, Stephen O’Malley, Keiji Haino and Bruce Gilbert. His albums have recently been exploring the polarities of delicate, intimate compositions and physical noise. Vainio and Taanila have collaborated earlier for the short film A Physical Ring (2002), and the feature doc Return of the Atom (2015).

Olli Huhtanen (b. 1966) has 25 years experience in film sound as a sound designer and supervising sound editor. Huhtanen’s curriculum consists of a wide repertoire of projects from mainstream fiction features to composing soundscapes for contemporary artists. Collaborators include also internationally renowned documentary film directors Virpi Suutari and Susanna Helke. Olli Huhtanen and Mika Taanila have worked together on several films and installations since 1997. In 2002 Huhtanen was a nominee for the annual Jussi Awards in Finland in Best Sound Design category with the film Cyclomania (dir. Simo Halinen). In 2012 Huhtanen was awarded with Jussi Prize for the Best Sound Design with the feature Hiljaisuus (“Silence”, dir. Sakari Kirjavainen).

Lola Rogers is a Finnish to English literary translator living in Seattle. Lola has contributed translations of fiction, non-fiction and poetry to a variety of journals and anthologies and has translated numerous novels, including True by Riikka Pulkkinen, which was a Shelf Unbound best book of 2012, and Purge by Sofi Oksanen, chosen as a best book of 2010 by The California Literary Review, The Sunday Times and others. Other translations include works by Pasi Jääskeläinen, Johanna Sinisalo and Rosa Liksom.

Markus Pyörälä (b. 1983) is a book design oriented graphic designer and illustrator living in Helsinki. During the years his works have received gold and silver awards in annual Best of The Year -competition, and have been awarded eleven times in the The Most Beautiful Book of The Year Awards – two of the cases having been the Main Prize: Runojä (Harry Salmenniemi 2011) and the novel Neuromaani (Jaakko Yli-Juonikas, 2012). In 2012 Pyörälä collaborated with the Finnish poet Vesa Haapala in his avant-garde poetry book Who shot Ötzi?.

Jussi Eerola (b. 1969) has 23 years experience as a cinematographer. He has shot many internationally awarded short-, documentary- and animation films and TV-series & -features. He has worked with directors like Kari Juusonen (Pizza Passionata, Prix de Jury, Cannes 2001) and Auli Mantila (Silver Arrows, Best TV-draama Prix Europa 2007) and he is the DOP of all Mika Taanila’s films. Eerola’s directional debut was a documentary of electrohypersensitive people (Refugees of Technocracy, 2009). Return of the Atom, co-written and directed together with Mika Taanila, premiered in Toronto TIFF 2015 and was given the NORDIC:DOX AWARD at CPH:DOX 2015. Eerola is the founder of Testifilmi company together with Mika Taanila and IC-98 (Patrik Söderlund and Visa Suonpää). Tectonic Plate is his first feature as a producer.

Producer Jussi Eerola
Director Mika Taanila
+358 400 718268

Mannerlaatta (Tectonic Plate)

Suomi / Finland
74 min
mustavalkoinen / black & white


ohjaus / director
Mika Taanila


teksti / text
Harry Salmenniemi

musiikki / music
Mika Vainio


äänisuunnittelu, miksaus / sound designer, re-recording mixer
Olli Huhtanen

graafinen suunnittelu / graphic design
Markus Pyörälä


valokopiot, fotogrammit, kenttä-äänitys / photocopies, photograms, field recording
Mika Taanila


English translation
Lola Rogers


pimiö / darkroom
Martti Jämsä

siirrot / telecine
Anssi Kallio / Reel One


animaatio / animation
Sakari Raappana / Post Control

värimääritteljä / colorist
Marko Terävä / Post Control

jälkityötuottaja / post producer
Jukka Kujala / Post Control


DCP-audiomasterointi / DCP-audio mastering
Sami Sarhamaa / Kalevalastudio

äänen jälkituotanto / audio post production
Mikko Oinonen / Finnvox Cinepost


lisäksi musiikkia:

"In an Autumn Garden I. Strophe"
säveltäjä / composed by Toru Takemitsu
esittäjä / performed by Reigakusha
Schott Music GmbH & Co. KG
2002 Sony Music Japan International


”Tout petit la planète”
säveltäjät / composed by Pierre van Dormael & Bernard Loncheval
esittäjä / performed by Plastic Bertrand
Universal Music Publishing
1978 AMC Records


Tuotantotuki / production funded by

Pekka Uotila / SES
Marjo Valve / SES
Outi Rousu / AVEK


yhteistyössä / in co-production with

Yle / Sari Volanen

Alfred Kordelinin säätiö / Alfred Kordelin Foundation
Suomen Kulttuurirahasto  / Finnish Cultural Foundation
Taiteen edistämiskeskus / Mediataide / Arts Promotion Centre Finland / Media Art

käsikirjoitustuki / script funded by

Koneen säätiö / Kone Foundation
Elena Näsänen / AVEK


tuottaja / producer
Jussi Eerola


Elokuvayhtiö Testifilmi Oy



testifilmi #2

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