Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rouva Presidentti / [Mrs. President]

Fru President. FI © 2012 Helsinki Filmi Oy / Funny-Films Oy. P: Miia Haavisto, Osku Pajamäki. D: Aleksi Bardy. SC: Aleksi Bardy, Osku Pajamäki. DP: Tuukka Temonen, Timo Teräväinen - DCP: James Post. M: Kerkko Koskinen. "Tarja Halonen Song" sung by Namibians. S: Juha Hakanen. ED: Katja Pällijeff. Feat: Tarja Halonen, Pentti Arajärvi. 90 min. Mostly in Finnish. Released by Scanbox Entertainment with Finnish / Swedish subtitles. 2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 7, Helsinki, 31 March 2012 (premiere weekend).

A documentary movie about Tarja Halonen's last year of Presidency at the end of her second term, totalling 12 years (maximum duration), the first feature movie of a Finnish President's full working schedule. Previously there have been feature films about Presidential state visits only.

Topics include a state visit to Russia (Medvedev, Putin), a regional visit to Forssa, a Presidential session with the Secretary of State, state visit to Namibia, an environmental summit in Capetown, opening of the Parliament, open doors at the Presidential Palace, the Book Fair, visiting a celebration of the Kallio elementary school (the school of Halonen's own childhood, not far from where she lives now) (I visited the same school for one year 15 years later when we lived two blocks from it at Neljäs Linja), embarking the Presidential boat, the summer residence in Kultaranta (Naantali), the cabinet meeting at Kultaranta, visit of Bruce Oreck the U.S. Ambassador, the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, Presidential session with the new prime minister Jyrki Katainen, the Presidential residence at Mäntyniemi, the Presidential New Year's address, packing things including 6000 books at the end of the Presidency, and turning the power to Sauli Niinistö, the new President since 2012.

Tarja Halonen looks relieved during her last year of Presidency, following her tough schedule and summarizing aspects of her worldview. "I am a person of the 1960s. Good values get better with age." Her mother's advice: "The world is not fair. That's why we are here, to make it better." "Presidency is like a shadow or cloak that follows you everywhere." "Poor people are not stupid." "Change the world." "You have to dare to live." "Liberty is attractive, life will carry us." Her daughter's comment six years ago: "You have lost your liberty. You are a President for life."

Based on this movie I don't think Tarja Halonen (67) is retiring anytime soon.

When I was seeing the trailer I was agonizing "do I have to see that". But the movie is actually consistently interesting and an act of democracy, helping us understand a bit better the world of modern politics nationally, locally and internationally.

The attendance in the screening was good, and I heard from the cinema staff that the movie has been consistently popular during the premiere weekend. The audience reaction was strong with many bursts of laughter for the punchlines. Tarja Halonen was a popular President, the real deal, "one of us", still popular.

The visual quality of the 2K presentation has the character of a basic record, the movie having been shot on digital video. But even the archival stock footage of the 1950s has a weak video definition. Yet in a movie like this we are grateful for candid moments of usually inaccessible situations, and there are many such moments that have never been recorded before.

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