Saturday, January 28, 2012

Canned Dreams

[Only the English-language title was visible on screen] / Säilöttyjä unelmia / Säilöttyjä unelmia [the title used in the Swedish-speaking Hufvudstadsbladet]. IE/NO/PT/FR/FI © 2011 Oktober. Year of Finnish release: 2012. P: Joonas Berghäll, Petri Rossi. D: Katja Gauriloff. SC: Katja Gauriloff, Joonas Berghäll, Jarkko T. Laine. DP: Heikki Färm, Tuomo Hutri - shot on Super 16 (Kodak) - Kodak Cinelabs Romania - 2K digital intermediate: Generator Post. M: Karsten Fundal. S: Peter Albrechtsen. Loc: Brazil, Portugal, France, Italy, Ukraine, Romania, Denmark, Poland, Germany, Finland. 75 min. Spoken in Portuguese, Danish, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, and Romanian. The captions on the viewing copy are in English. Released in Finland by FS Film with Finnish subtitles only (n.c.). 2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 8, Helsinki, 28 Jan 2012.

From the production information: "Canned Dreams is a Finnish documentary film about how industrially processed foodstuff ends up on the shelf of a Finnish grocery store. The movie follows the incredible journey of 35.000 kilometers of one can of food starting from the ore quarries of Brazil and making the rounds of many different countries of production until the cannery in France."

"Above all the movie tells about the life and the dreams of the people participating in the production in different countries. Behind every finished product one can find countless working hands, and the can of food grows into a metaphor of multicultural Europe." (End of quote, translation mine.)

Based on the advance buzz I was expecting a muckraking exposé, but Canned Dreams is a sober account on industrial food production. I have respected Katja Gauriloff as the director of Huuto tuuleen (A Shout into the Wind), an important statement on behalf of the Sami people, and Canned Dreams confirms her status as a top documentary film director.

Katja Gauriloff's movie is an amazing reminder on the global aspect of food production. The account of industrialized agricultural processes are in the best tradition of documentary observation. The special distinction of the movie is in its focus on the personal stories and dreams of working people in various countries. Human labour is behind everything.

Two patrons left the cinema during the pig slaughter sequence. Canned Dreams belongs to the tradition of Frederick Wiseman's Meat of which it is a well known claim that people who see it stop eating meat. Canned Dreams also belongs to the cinema's cross-section (Querschnitt) tradition. It also belongs to the even older tradition of documenting how products are made, starting from the very beginning. I seem to remember having seen non-fiction accounts about the production of canned fish that are over a hundred years old. But Canned Dreams is a fully original update of all such traditions.

The visual quality is high and the editing rhythm intensive. Shot on Super 16, even the 2K DCP of the movie conveys the value of Heikki Färm's top drawer cinematography.

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