Monday, January 23, 2017

Kiehumispiste / Boiling Point

    Director: Elina Hirvonen
    Country: Finland
    Year: 2017
    Length: 90
    Format: DCP
    Cinematography: Jarkko M. Virtanen
    Editing: Timo Peltola
    Audio: Kimmo Vänttinen
    Production: Sami Jahnukainen, Timo Vierimaa / Mouka Filmi
    Languages: Finnish, English
    Subtitles: English, Finnish
    Viewed at Savoy Theatre, DocPoint Opening Gala, 23 Jan 2017
    The DCP screened had opening and closing credits in English only.
    Opening gala introduced by Ulla Bergström and Iris Olsson.
    Boiling Point introduced by Sami Jahnukainen, Timo Vierimaa, and Elina Hirvonen.
    The crew and the participants were introduced after the film at the strength of twenty.

DocPoint introduction: "To the border, to the border!’ rang the calls back in 1939. Cut to 2016, when an asylum seeker arriving in Finland may have crossed up to 11 states’ borders during their journey. When asking if a country almost the size of Germany has room for immigrants, the issue isn’t about acreage. Arguments for and against are heard everywhere from the Parliament to Lapland and the locker rooms of public saunas. *Finland is an insane country that is violating its own laws and international human rights.’ ’The disease of tolerance leads to death.’ ’One can say that there are positive things.’"

"Director-writer Elina Hirvonen’s first feature, Boiling Point, depicts Finland in the 2010’s, where ’social justice warrior’ has turned into a derogatory term, breadlines are growing, Soldiers of Odin patrol the streets and there are calls to ‘stop this game’ – and we’re not talking about the Finnish hockey team, supported by many ethnic groups. The camera is taken inside protests against immigration, racism and the government’s austerity measures. In one scene, we follow asylum seekers, in another, supporters of the ’Finland First’ movement. The protagonists are not stereotypes but multidimensional people."

"Boiling Point was created as a reaction to the changes happening today. They are depicted without pathos, but at the same time, the film is brimming with emotions. In the end, no one really knows who will take care of us in our retirement homes.
" Tii Starck / Translation: Liina Härkönen

AA: The debut feature film of the writer Elina Hirvonen offers something new.

We are living in an age of controversy. A flood of refugees is coming to Europe where great numbers of the working people and the middle classes are deeply hurt by globalization as jobs disappear to countries with low-pay circumstances, and profits vanish to tax paradises. Populist movements incite the poor to fight one another.

Meanwhile, progressive, green, and leftist movements remain in self-satisfied bubbles, having lost touch with the people.

Boiling Point starts with montages of discord, even bringing historical records of WWII into play. Hate speech and xenophobia are rampant. "We have had enough" is the message of the populist protesters. "What is wrong with Impivaara?" is among the lines of dialogue. Impivaara is the mythical hideaway of The Seven Brothers in Aleksis Kivi's classic novel as the brothers escape the challenges of school, marriage, society, and the world to deep forest.

In Elina Hirvonen's film we visit refugee reception centers, The Night of the Homeless, and Nordic Resistance rallies. "Finland First. Forssa First" is among the slogans. We meet representatives of everybody: immigrants, nationalist Suomen Sisu activists, and a kindly teacher who teaches Finnish to the refugees. Elina Hirvonen challenges prejudices and records surprising encounters which border on violence but also may show a promise of dialogue.

A recurrent feature, simultaneously serious and humoristic, is a series of debates between Tapio Salminen and Oula Silvennoinen at the Kotiharju Sauna [Kotiharju = Home Ridge].

Visually, the film juxtaposes heated montages of controversy with serene aerial shots and extreme high angle visions, as if wanting to put things into perspective. Some of the sauna scenes are comically dignified. A touch of the sublime towards the end is provided by J. S. Bach's Christmas Oratorium. Towards the end a family of refugees gets to move to a new home in Jyväskylä.

There was an extraordinary feeling after the film, as Tapio Salminen led us to a sing-along of the classic Finnish tango "Satumaa" ["Wonderland"]. As Napoleon said, there is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous, and that tango embraces both.

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