Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jäävuoren varjoon / Iceberg Shadow

FI © 2009 Illume Ltd. P: Pertti Veijalainen. 8 mm films, postcards and letters: Oiva Kovanen. D+SC: Antti Seppänen. Still and video photography: Antti Seppänen, Teemu Liakka. Colour grading: Ilmo Lintonen / Minus Movies Oy. M: Kimmo Mustonen, Antti Kokkola. S: Kimmo Vänttinen. ED: Antti Seppänen, Samu Heikkilä. Voice of Oiva: Aarno Mansikkamäki. Garage sale salesman: Matti Seppänen. 57 min. An Illume dvd with English subtitles by Tiina Kinnunen. Viewed at the summer cottage in Punkaharju, 27 July 2011.

The Finnish Wikipedia synopsis: "The narrator finds a cardboard box full of 8 mm films in a garage sale. At home he gets acquainted with the contents of the films and discovers colourful and skilfully recorded footage from every continent of the Earth. The soft images emanating a mysticism of decades past lead the narrator to find out about the identity of the recorder of the images."

Further from the Wikipedia: the 8 mm films turned out to be a part of the heritage of the ship machinist Oiva Kovanen (1911-2001) from Kotka. The film was almost seven years in the making.

DocPoint 2010 catalogue: "Two boxes filled with 8 mm film are found at a garage sale. When the pictures start moving, a treasure is revealed: countless frames taken around the world, someone’s experiences and adventures from decades ago. The filmmaker has immortalised foreign faces in distant harbours, a stormy ocean, the neon lights of Manhattan, the sand-coloured pyramids, Machu Picchu – and his own shadow. Who was this filmmaker and why did his memories end up for sale? This riddle is tackled in the documentary Iceberg Shadow. The name found in the film bags puts the director on the right track. More evidence is uncovered at the War Archive and in the attics: old photos, letters and postcards. These form a picture of lived life, of the man behind the films. The amazing adventures of First Engineer O. V. Kovanen and his beautiful legacy are also a story about what is left of us when we are gone."

Documentary. First Engineer Oiva Kovanen lived during the age of the extremes, but as a cinematographer he focused on the eternal, on the most magnificent views of the world. One of the basic instincts of the cinema was the Lumière impulse to see the world and show its sights. This movie is one man's realization of that impulse - he wanted to film all the continents, and had a good sense of composition and colour in his films. Antti Seppänen has created a work of art by collecting the materials and constructing the journey format of this film. The 8 mm footage is complemented by photographs and postcards. Quotes from Kovanen's correspondence help make sense of the story. Kovanen habitually sent postcards to himself from his trips around the world. After his retirement Kovanen continued travelling and filming. He was among the victims of a shipwreck in the Antarctic where he lost all his footage shot during the trip, but four years later he made another, his final trip "to the end of the world", now equipped with a video camera. No relative was present in the funeral of the loner; only his neighbours from his siirtolapuutarha (allotment garden, Schrebergarten) were present. Five years after Kovanen's death Antti Seppänen found the footage in a garage sale. Among Kovanen's papers he found notes on astronomy and cosmology. Kovanen had seen the Earth and wanted to know more. - The music and sound world of this movie are sensitive. The visual impact is dominated by the warm, lively hues of the 8 mm cinematography which can be sensed even on the dvd. - An essay on kaukokaipuu, the yearning to faraway places.

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