Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Octavio Paz: Apariencia desnuda / Marcel Duchamp, Appearance Stripped Bare (two essays)

Marcel Duchamp: La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (Le Grand Verre) (inachevée, work-in-progress). 1915-23. Oil, varnish, lead foil, lead wire, and dust on two glass panels. 277.5 cm × 175.9 cm (109.25 in × 69.25 in). Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia. Image: Wikipedia.
Octavio Paz: Marcel Duchamp - Apariencia desnuda. Ciudad de México: Ediciones Era, 1976. Incorporating two previously published extended essays, here revised and enlarged:
- Marcel Duchamp o El castillo de la pureza. Ciudad de México: Ediciones Era, 1968.
- Marcel Duchamp - Apariencia desnuda. Ciudad de México: Ediciones Era, 1973.
    In English
    Appearance Stripped Bare. Translated by Rachel Phillips and Donald Gardner. New York: Viking Press, 1978.
    Read in Finnish:
    Suuri lasi [direct translation: The Large Glass]. Translated by Anita Mikkonen. Edited by Jyrki Lappi-Seppälä. Graphic design: Kari Puikkonen. Printed: Hämeenlinna: Karisto Oy Kirjapaino. Publisher: Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Taide, 1991. 168 p. Illustrated.

Octavio Paz (1914-1998) was a great Mexican poet and a Nobel laureate. We film lovers know him also from his essays on Luis Buñuel which are among the most rewarding written about the Surrealist.

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was a French artist, often seen as one of the handful, or even one of the two most significant artists of the 20th century (for Octavio Paz those two are Picasso and Duchamp). Academically trained, Duchamp soon mastered Impressionism, Cubism, and Futurism. His movement studies such as Nu descendant un escalier n:o 2 are among the key works of art in the film age. He was the inventor of the objet trouvé / Readymade (Bicycle Wheel, 1913, Bottle Rack, 1914) and came close to Dadaism (Fountain). He was also close to Surrealism and created kinetic works (in 1931 Duchamp coined the word "mobiles" at Alexander Calder's studio) and a short avantgarde film (Anémic cinémA). The mathematically talented Duchamp was influenced by Henri Poincaré. He was also a passionate chess player (we see him playing chess in René Clair's Entr'acte). Duchamp was also a composer, perhaps the first one to create aleatoric music already in 1912-1915, and he later collaborated with John Cage. Duchamp loved disguises and pseudonyms; he created a female side persona called Rrose Sélavy; he may himself be the model of his moustached Mona Lisa.

Duchamp's last major work in his lifetime was the unfinished La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (Le Grand Verre), 1915-1923. Duchamp had made preliminary paintings for it already in Munich in 1912. In 1923 it was left "terminally unfinished". After Duchamp's death, Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibited his mixed media installation Étant donnés: 1° la chute d'eau / 2° le gaz d'éclairage, a work in progress which had been in the making in 1946-1966 and was permanently put on display in 1969. Also for conceptual art, minimalist art, installation art, and body art Duchamp is a key pioneer. Duchamp was against "retinal art" and a champion for the art for the mind. He participated also in performance art, perhaps dramatizing the conflict between the pleasure of the eye and the pleasure of the mind in his chess performance with the beautiful young nude Eve Babitz (later an artist and writer, herself).

Duchamp, who settled in New York's Greenwich Village in 1942, changed the way we see art.

Perhaps Duchamp's strongest statement as an artist was his silence.

Duchamp stopped to be an active artist in 1923. He was a chess master, and he now dedicated his life to chess instead, and also to chess theory. Samuel Beckett was inspired by Duchamp's theme of the endgame.

These years we remember the centenary of the First World War (1914-1918). Duchamp is relevant for me here because WWI meant the end of art - the end of art in the traditional sense. Received notions of the beautiful and the sublime became obsolete - obsolete in great art creating something truly innovative. (Old great art never becomes obsolete. Most new art is always conventional or recycled.) There was a rupture in art, the greatest in history, and Duchamp was a key incarnation of it.

The traditional concepts of aesthetics of the beautiful and the sublime are irrelevant for an artwork such as La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (Le Grand Verre).

In Apariencia desnuda a great poet, Octavio Paz, writes a great book on Duchamp. I'm grateful having stumbled upon it intrigued by a recommendation by a good friend. Duchamp was a poet, too, inspired by Stéphane Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud, and Jules Laforgue (fascinatingly discussed by Paz), and his poet friends Guillaume Apollinaire, Francis Picabia, Tristan Tzara and André Breton.

Octavio Paz focuses on La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (Le Grand Verre). The original is in Philadelphia Museum of Art, and there are three official replicas (at Moderna Museet, at Tate Gallery, and at Komaba Museum at the University of Tokyo). La mariée... is an unclassifiable construction which actually also requires studying Duchamp's explanatory remarks called From The Green Box (1957). But it has also been said that Duchamp's explanations only serve to make the work even more hard to understand. The same goes for Duchamp's The White Box / À l'infinitif (1966) and Entretiens (1967).

Based on an intimate understanding of Duchamp and following carefully all the clues Octavio Paz in his essays creates a parallel poetic world with a rich array of fascinating associations.

One of those associations is about La Mariée... as anti-art, about the silence of art, even about the destruction of art (the accidentally shattered glass not replaced by Duchamp), and also about the impossibility of interpretation. La Mariée... is also a parody of modern art, and its explanations a parody of modern art criticism. Also in his position of neutrality and acceptance of any interpretation or none Duchamp was ahead of his time.

P.S. 15 April 2015: I have stumbled upon Massimo Lanzaro's interesting reflections on Marcel Duchamp:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tadeusz Konwicki: Sennik współczesny / A Dreambook for Our Time (a novel)

Good reading at the Ylläs-Äkäslompolo ski paradise. Click to enlarge.

Tadeusz Konwicki: Sennik współczesny. Warszawa: Iskry, 1964.
    Read in Finnish:
    Puolalainen unikirja. Finnish translation and introduction by Taisto Veikko. Porvoo / Helsinki: WSOY, 1966. Aikamme kertojia. 402 pages.

Tadeusz Konwicki (1926–2015) died two months ago and we'll honour his memory in our summer season by screening Zaduszki / All Souls' Day and Salto / Somersault. The screenings are also a part of our tribute to Paweł Pawlikowski's Ida: we will celebrate the Polish New Wave of the late 1950s and the liberal part of the 1960s. Pawlikowski has been, though, influenced rather by Bresson, the young Godard, and the Czech New Wave. But interestingly the first work in Pawlikowski's filmography is Palace Life (1988), a television documentary on Konwicki.

Tadeusz Konwicki was a first class writer. Two of his books were translated into Finnish in the distinguished Keltainen kirjasto series of the Tammi publishing house: Mała apokalipsa / Pieni ilmestyskirja / A Minor Apocalypse (1979), and Bohiń / Isoäitini tarina / Bohin Manor (1987). The first Finnish Konwicki translation was Sennik współczesny / A Dreambook for Our Time by WSOY.

I saw Zaduszki when it was telecast in Finland in 1970 under the title Taru rakkaudesta [A Saga of Love]. It is a strong Modernistic piece perhaps a little reminiscent of Hiroshima, mon amour, but completely original. Having read Konwicki obituaries I know now a little about the shattering first hand experiences that brought a sense of urgency to Konwicki's books and films. Konwicki was a film director and also an important screenwriter and an inspiring background figure who provided ideas to key films of the Polish New Wave.

A Dreambook for Our Time (its Finnish title in direct translation: A Polish Dreambook) is the first Konwicki book I have read. It is a compelling nightmarish account of Paweł, a Resistance activist coming to terms with his experiences seventeen years after WWII. He returns to the terrain of the guerrilla warfare in the village that is about to be flooded as a huge dam is being built. The partisans had first fought Nazis and then the Soviets. Some of them are rumoured still to hide in the forest, and, indeed, still are.

This is not a heroic adventure story. Paweł (known as a Resistance fighter as Stary = the Old-Timer) had risked everyone with his derring-do against a Nazi train. Seventeen years later he is still tormented to the point of attempting suicide because he had been assigned to execute a traitor among the partisans. (He shot but did not kill). For a long time the sensual Paweł has been living a shadow life, yet he experiences significant but frustrating relationships with women, Regina and Justyna. (He fails to act with Regina who would be interested. He acts with Justyna who finally, however, decides not to board the train with Paweł).

The story is set in today (around 1962) with much of the action experienced in wartime flashbacks and in even more distant flashbacks in Paweł's school days. There are many layers in the narrative. One of them is the association of the Twelve Apostles and Maria Magdalena among the partisans.

A Dreambook for Our Time is a harrowing but persuasive story. It is a story of brutalization but also of a triumph of the spirit. It is an account of a nightmare but also of waking up.

I cannot read Polish but it is easy to believe that Taisto Veikko (also a translator of Andrzejewski, Gombrowicz, and Kolakowski) has done a fine job of translation here. The Finnish edition has been printed during the golden age of Finnish book publishing (from the 1950s till the 1970s) when they knew the secret of the perfect layout for a book that also as an object is a pleasure to read.


Sunday, March 08, 2015

Tampere Film Festival 2015: National Competition

Matka minuksi / Becoming Me (D: Mina Laamo)
Since some years now at Tampere Film Festival I focus on National Competition. This year I was again happy at this decision, and I blogged on each film (save one, see the end). I could list them all here but here are some of my favourite SHORT FILMS in alphabetic order:
    Baby-Box - another masterful puppet animation by Katariina Lillqvist at her best.
    Karkuri / The Deserter by Kalle Raittila - a devastating factual animation on Syria.
    Kukka-Hauta / Flower-Grave by Malakias - a drolatic animation in juicy colour about our dependence on bees.
    Kuuntele / Listen by Hamy Ramezan and Rungano Nyoni - a taut and intense drama of "lost in translation" as an Arab woman tries to report lethal domestic violence on a Copenhagen police station.
    Naisen nimi / Just a Name by Tiina Lymi - a lovely satire with bite.
    Syntymäpäivä / Birthday by Hanneriina Moisseinen - a charcoal drawn animation about the last days of Finnish Eastern Karelia.
    Teemapuisto / Theme Park by Risto-Pekka Blom - a humoristic monologue of the huge balloon figure by the Koskikeskus Shopping Mall.
    Transit by Lauri Astala - an experimental film about the transformation of space as photographed in nocturnal New York from impossible angles.
    Valvoja / The Guardian by Pietari Bagge, Christer Hongisto, Inka Matilainen, and Elisa Ikonen - a droll animation of a senior woman who has a low tech robot assistant.
    Äiti / Mother by Otto Kylmälä - a psychologically powerful account on a mother's rehabilitation.

THE FEATURE FILMS had mostly already been seen in previous festivals or even in theatrical distribution.
    Between Rings / Estherin kehä / Woman on Hold by Salla Sorri and Jessie Chisi is the engrossing story of Zambia's national heroine Esther Phiri.
    Hulluus ja yhteiskunta / Madness and Civilization by Teemu Mäki is a disturbing audiovideo: a visually dramatized audioplay triptych on Pierre Rivière, on the Norwegian mass murderer of Utøya, and of Michel Foucault who tried to make sense of Rivière.
    Hymyjen maa / The Land of Smiles by Heikki Häkkinen is a story of a team of guys who go to Thailand to rescue their friend who is being killed by his addiction to Lao Khao liquor and other dangerous substances.
    Matka minuksi / Becoming Me by Mina Laamo is a truly original intimate documentary on three young women who are charting their identities via extremely private blogs on fashion, anorexia, and food. With ravishing cinematography as is characteristic for Avanton productions.
    Talvivaaran miehet / Men of the Talvivaara Mine by Markku Heikkinen is a strong documentary on the huge mining debacle that has been in Finnish headlines for years. This kind of a general survey puts things into perspective and dramatizes the issue electrifyingly. Essential viewing for Finns and those interested in Finland.
    Tolonen by Lasse Keso is a high profile rise-and-fall and lost-and-found documentary on the great progressive rock guitarist Jukka Tolonen, with authorized access to the even most embarrassing aspects of his life.
    Who the Devil Can See in the Dark / Kuka piru pimeässä näkee by Mari Soppela is a humoristic account of a bitter topic: the search of a missing grandfather, a German soldier stationed in Lapland during WWII.

I missed one film, the new documentary feature film Äidin toive / Mother's Wish by Joonas Berghäll, screened in the first show in the competition, as I did not realize that it would be the only chance to see it.

Saturday, March 07, 2015


GB 2014. Fiction. PC: National Film and Television School. P: Franziska Lindner, Nik Powell. D: Pekka Saari. SC: Pekka Saari, Islay Bell-Webb. DP: Tristan Chenais. PD: Paul Savulescu. M: Lyndon Holland. S: Márton Kristóf, Simon Gill. ED: Yann Heckmann. M: Lyndon Holland. C: Grace Hogg-Robinson (Hannah), Mark Aiken (Mark), Oliver Kennedy (Elijah), Chandrika Chevli (Sally), Beatrice Curnew (Lisa). 25 min
    Filmed on location in Snowdonia National Park, Wales.
    In English. 
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 11), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "During a lakeside holiday, 14-year old Hannah isn’t best pleased to have been dragged to the middle of nowhere with her step-dad Andreas whom she cannot stand. Hannah is convinced that he is trying to get rid of her. Andreas, on the other hand, is certain that there is something wrong with the girl and is trying to convince Hannah's insecure mother Lisa to send her to a facility. The hostility between the two grows. To get away from it all, Hannah wanders away from the lake house where they’re staying. In the woods behind it, she is befriended by the charismatic but mysterious Elijah – he’s older than her, wild and probably dangerous. And he’s prompting Hannah to stand up against Andreas. As his influence over Hannah grows and her relationship with her step-dad deteriorates, events by the lake take a decidedly sinister turn… "

AA: A sensitive portrait of a shy, awkward teenage girl arriving at a holiday summer place by the lake. Hannah does not fit in at all with her current circumstances with a new threatening stepfather but connects instantly with the stranger Elijah whom she meets in the forest by the lake. Hannah tells Elijah that her stepdad has killed her dog. There is a fine sense of atmosphere and alienation. At night Hannah overhears the stepdad's plans to have her relocated in an institution. Hannah: "I don't like water. I don't like something underneath that I cannot see". But there is a violent and tragic climax on the lake.    There is a  good sense of atmosphere and suspense. The performances are interesting and original. The cinematography and the production are assured and effective.

Onni / The Joy of Everyday Life

FI 2014. Documentary. PC: Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. D+SC+DP+ED: Sanna  Liljander. Black and white. 7 min
    In Finnish with English subtitles by Sanna Liljander.
Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 11), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "Everyday life. Oh joy?"

AA: The title of this film is ironic. This kitchen sink documentary in one long take is about the endurance test of an exhausted mother as her younger baby (not the one we see) has a crying spell. The all-dominant sound is the incessant cry.

Orchard Road

FI / GB 2015. PC: Lamb Films. P: Larry Cowan. D: Ida-Maria Olva. SC: Leevi Ikonen. DP: Aidan Gault. S: Ilmari Hietala. ED: Otto Laakso. M: Veli-Pekka Pehkonen, Myles McCormack. Songs: "The Lying Devil", "The Number Song". C: Sean Hegarty (dad), James Hegarty (Alex), Larry Cowan (Georgie), Tracy Dempsey (radio persona). Special thanks: Armagh Cider Company. 9 min
    In English with Finnish subtitles.
Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 11), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "An unemployed father cannot afford a birthday present for his son, so he plans something a bit more unorthodox."

"It's Alex's ninth birthday and he's been anticipating a trip to Old Trafford for a present. Instead of Manchester, he finds himself heading towards Country Armagh in a pissing rain. Alex and his dad have started the day with a visit to the dole, making Alex quite pessimistic towards his surprise adventure waiting in Armagh. After a couple of cautionary prep talks it's time for the H hour. Alex's dad explains that he's taken him to nothing less than the best apple tree in the world."

AA: A droll rogue story of a birthday surprise off the beaten track. With good performances, a fine sense of atmosphere, and a sense of a maverick experience.

K.E.R.O.S.I.I.N.I. runoja planeetalta / K.E.R.O.S.E.N.E. Poems from the Planet

FI 2014. Experimental. P+D+SC+AN+ED: Jukka-Pekka Jalovaara. M+S: Samuli Saastamoinen. Black and white / monochrome with footage of fire in colour. 8 min
    Inspired by footage found on the NASA page: Apollo 11 being launched in 1969.
Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 11), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "I need to get to space. Being a cosmonaut is a demanding task. When you are not granted a new launching pad - it is almost impossible."

AA:  "I need to get to space", indeed. A rock music driven visual poem, an associative music video. The music is instrumental but there are text lyrics like in a karaoke video. This is a psychic rocket launch. Negative images, extreme close-ups of faces, high contrast, lizards, action figures, superimpositions, newsreel footage of explosions, a distorted surrealistic eye, a distorted drawing, eggs in a basket, insects on a fallen leaf, a burst of colour: exploding fire from the rocket launch, words and remarks painted on eggs.


Syntymäpäivä / Birthday

FI 2014. Animation. P+D+SC+AN: Hanneriina Moisseinen. S: Tatiana Moshkova, Aga Pokrywka, Amanda Kauranne, Hanneriina Moisseinen. ED: David Eichenberger. Black and white. 3 min
    No dialogue, just intertitles with English subtitles.
Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 11), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "It is the summer of 1944 and Karelia is being evacuated. Right when they receive the order to leave, one of the cows begins to calve."

AA: Charcoal drawn animation. The handcrafted quality is intimate and evocative. The kantele music and the dirge singing are delicate. Story: during the worst catastrophe of the war a calf is born.
    A work of art.

Kuuntele / Listen

[title in Arabic]. FI / DK 2014. Fiction. P: Valeria Richter, Helene Granqvist. D+SC: Hamy Ramezan, Rungano Nyoni. DP: Lars Vestergaard. S: Kristoffer Salting, Hamid Alamizadeh. ED: Rikke Selin Lorentz. M: Kristian Selin Eidnes Andersen. C: Yusuf Kamal El-Ali (son), Zeinab Rahal (mother), Amira Helene Larsen (translator), Nanna Böttcher (policewoman), Alexandre Willaume (policeman). 13 min
    In Arabic with English subtitles.
Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 11), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "A foreign woman in a burqa brings her young son to a Copenhagen police station to file a complaint against her abusive husband, but the translator assigned to her seems unwilling to convey the true meaning of her words. A tense, diamond-hard film about cultural isolation and bureaucratic ignorance."

AA: An intense and urgent drama about "lost in translation" when the female interpreter to the violently abused wife distorts her testimony to the police. The situation escalates to a fatal misunderstanding. The wife finally requests her son Yussef who talks Danish. But even the son fails to translate what the wife is saying. A refined and powerful movie.

In Love with Amelia Earhart

FI 2014. Animation. PC: Animaatiokopla. P+D+SC+ED: Leena Jääskeläinen. AN: Kaisa Penttilä, Jessica Koivistoinen. Paintings: Maria Björklund. Graphic art: Kaisa Penttilä. DP: Jari Uusitalo. S: Janne Laine. M: De Wolfe Music. C: Taina Nyström (grown-up Erja), Rosita Manninen (young Erja), Saana Hyvärinen (Erja's voice), Mary Woolley (voice of Erja). 6 min
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 11), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "The Middle-aged Erja is reunited with her to lost loves. Amelia Earhart and herself. In love with Amelia Earhart is a light hearted experimental short film. The film deals with the contradiction between youthful enthusiasm and mature disillusionment. The technique of the film is stop motion animation by actors, along with some painted-on archive footage."

AA: Stop motion live action animation with some newsreel footage of Amelia Earhart. A poem based on a montage of associations. Everything is well with mother at the care home.
    A time lapse image of Erja as a young woman artist: I want to fly, I will never fall. Her drawings and paintings on the wall come alive in time lapse animation.
    Erja literally confronts herself as a depressed grown-up cleaning woman, both facing each other in the same shot. "I am doing quite fine. I will fly one day, as well."

Pimeällä polulla / On Dark Paths

Click to enlarge.
FI 2014. Fiction. PC: New Dawn Oy. P+D+SC+M: Paul J. Helin. DP: Jari Iso-Markku. S: Aleksi Tegel. C: Pessi Kivilä (Risto), Oskari Katajisto (father), Minna Hämäläinen (mother), Marjatta Rinne (grandmother), Lasse Piironen (monster). 20 min
    In Finnish with English subtitles by Kaisa Cullen.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 11), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "On Dark Paths tells a story about an eight-year-old boy, Risto, whose mind has created a terrifying monster that creeps in the family’s house during the night. This time, when the monster forces its way into Risto’s room, Risto has no choice but to escape and run to the grandmother’s for safety on the other side of the forest. We then find out that the creature isn’t entirely a product of Risto’s imagination but also real flesh and blood. Risto must now gather the courage to stand up to the monster - and put an end to his nightmare."

AA:  A horror movie set in the countryside based on a trauma of the nuclear family.
    Paul J. Helin creates skillfully a mood of ominous foreboding in this film that has a professional touch. The cinematography and the lighting are fine and effective.
    Grandmother sees through the complacent facade and recommends family therapy. Little Risto sees a monster which, it turns out, is his alcoholic father. In the conclusion the only way to overcome the murderous monster is parricide.

Säälistäjät / Mercy All the Way

FI 2014. Fiction. PC: AV-Arkki The Distribution Centre for Finnish Media Art / Hannaleena Hauru, Jan-Niclas Jansson - and Elokuvatuotantoyhtiö Made Oy / Ulla Simonen. D: Hannaleena Hauru. SC: Hannaleena Hauru, Tanja Heinänen. DP: Jan-Niclas Jansson. S: Cedric Le Doré. ED: Jenny Tervakari. M: Aleksi Wuorio, Lauri Ranta. "Kuka keksi rakkauden" (Markku Impiö, Kaija Kokkola) perf. Tsäps Up. "Doin' Time" (Petri Kallio). C: Tanja Heinänen (Mirja), Mikael Karkkonen (Marko), Misa Palander (Anna), Alina Tomnikov (Angelica), Johannes Mäkinen (Aku-Nuutti), Leena Nuora (Iida), Tiia Honkanen (Pirjo), Kikka Rytkönen (Päivikki), Niina Hosiasluoma (Sossu-Leena), Aapo Puusti (Jarkki), Rainer Kaunisto (Kake), Juha Mäkinen (shop manager). 30 min
    Contact: Elokuvatuotantoyhtiö MADE Oy / Ilona Tolmunen,
    In Finnish with English subtitles by Liina Härkönen.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 10), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "The women working in a Finnish unemployment office have a secret club, where they give sex out of pity to marginalized young men in order to prevent future school killings. Mirja (35) tries to hide that after spending a night with unemployed Marko (19), she has fallen in love. Saving Finland is at stake."

The motto of this film was taken from a film critic.
    "If Auvinen, Saari, or Breivik had had even a little sex and at least for a while someone as a girlfriend, none of them would have become mass murderers."
- Markus Määttänen, Aamulehti, 2011

AA:  A dark satire on an outrageous premise. "I do more field work than anyone. I have prevented three school shootings and two bomb threat this year alone." The movie starts in Western Koivula, Employment Office. The most offensive feature is that office clerks laugh at their clients during the lunch break. Drama starts when jealousy comes into play and all leads to mental breakdown. Ostensibly a film about sex, but the approach is grotesque and anti-erotic. An ambitious film with a big idea and even a visionary final mass sequence, but I fail to relate to this.

Gimme Winter and You Can Keep the Rest

FI 2014. Experimental. P+D+SC+DP+AN+ED: Leena Lehti. 4 min
    Contact: leena.m.lehti@
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 10), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "The film is inspired by a story of polar explorer Knud Rasmussen (born 1879). He was trying to find the fund to his next expedition. When he couldn´t find the money, he got really angry and yelled: ”Give me snow, give me dogs; you can keep the rest!” Gimme Winter and You Can Keep the Rest is shot on Super 8 film. The film has been scratched frame by frame manually."

AA: Abstract handmade animation scratched on home movie footage of a ski trek in the darkness.
    A scratch movie - a dark, blurred image - two men on a ski trek - this is a silent - an abstract mindscreen - the story of a quest - the scratching at times overwhelms the Winterreise.

Career Plans / Urasuunnitelmia

GB/FI 2014. Documentary. PC: National Film and TV School. P+D+SC+DP: Sakari Suuronen. S: Matis Rei. ED: Jojo Erholz. M: Fraya Thomsen. Featuring: Dania Vanessa Hoang and her daughter Yumi Hoang, Paula Pietiläinen, Kirsi Oksaharju. 22 min
    In Finnish with English subtitles.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 10), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "Where do you see yourself in five years? Everything seems so uncertain for Dania after graduation. Luckily her guidance counselor is with her on the journey."

AA: An intimate and sympathetic documentary film following a decisive moment in a young woman's choice of education and career. "Where do you see yourself in 3 years? 5 years? 7 years?" The intention is not to increase anxiety but to inspire.
    It starts with a young students examining forms with adjectives which might best describe them. Dania, 24, is on a five month home economics course in Jyväskylä, Finland. The course is about to end and she needs to figure out what to do with her future. The hairdressing school in Tampere has invited Dania for an inteview.
    Dania has arrived to Finland from Vietnam in the year 2000. Her mother was violent. She now is a single mother.
    Dania has been depressed since there has been no answer from Tampere. But there has just been a glitch of communication, and she has been accepted for the education to her dream job.
     The visual quality: a basic, plain, low tech documentary record.

Rocky Road

FI 2014. PC: Turku Arts Academy. P: Eija Saarinen. Animation. D+SC+AN+ED: Sirpa Loivarinne. S: Reinhard Zach, Hanna Leppälä. M: Reinhard Zach. 4 min
    Contact: Sirpa Loivarinne,
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 10), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "A little rock is trying to find his place in the world. During his journey, he has to face his fears and rejection. Finally, just being still he finds his purpose and place."

AA: A limited drawn animation about the quest of a little rock, a progress from the countryside to the city and to the seashore. There are a lot of smiling rocks on the pavement. The rock has to be careful with the traffic. It approaches a stone lion which fondles it with its tail. But it falls to the ground, into the sewer and ends up at the beach. Also full of pebbles. A boy lifts it and it turns into the moon. There it yawns during the end credits.

Naisen nimi / Just a Name

Milla (Essi Hellén) and Lotta (Lotta Kaihua) fight over a rape alarm device. Photo: Elina Simonen.

FI 2015. Fiction. PC: TACK Films Oy. P: John Lundsten. 
    D: Tiina Lymi. SC: Melli Maikkula. DP: Jan Nyman. AD: Janne Siltavuori. Cost: Tiina Kaukanen. S: Karri Niinivaara. ED: Harri Ylönen. M: Vesa Mäkinen. Musicians: Marzi Nyman, Verneri Pohjola, Tero Kling, Vesa Mäkinen. 
    C: Iina Kuustonen (Annu), Lotta Kaihua (Lotta), Santtu Karvonen (Janne), Essi Hellén (Milla), Leo Viirret (the man in the gym).
    18 min
    In Finnish with English subtitles by Maarit Tulkki.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 10), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "Annu, 30, is getting married and tries to decide whether to keep her own name or take that of her fiancé’s. A seemingly small choice gains enormous proportions when Annu’s best friend considers the issue an important question of gender equality, while Annu’s fiancé belittles the matter. A gathering of close friends escalates when traditional and modern worlds collide – and yet, it is just a name that is at stake. Or is it?"

AA: Revisited Tiina Lymi's excellent short film which I loved at first sight in late January. The delicious force of its satire is confirmed when seen again.
    It starts at the gym - the debate on the woman's family name. Naisen nimi is a film full of humoristic observation. It is a well written and directed contemporary satire with an unexpected angle. Janne the fiancé has bought a new leather easy chair. The two girlfriend guests bring gingerbread with pussy patterns (a wordplay on the Finnish double meaning of gingerbread). The dinner turns into a forum for hard core feministic diatribe. "Lotta is one tough broad".
    Do Lesbians get synchronized periods? Yes. Are men's circle jerks just a myth? No. How do Lesbians see penetration? As a patriarchal, destructive act.
   Annu has had enough: who is the penetrator here? Lotta.
   "It's just a name. It's not important". "Then you can take my name. It's not even an option. And it's my father's name anyway." The film is humoristic yet serious. The issue remains unsolved. There is bite in this film.
    What is not to like? This is a performance driven film with a splendid cast. The cinematography is good, and the original music played by a quartet is enjoyable.

Valvoja / The Guardian

The Guardian. Jamais vu. FI 2014. Animation. PC: Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture. ELO Film School Presents. P: Pietari Bagge. D+SC+AN+DP+ED: Pietari Bagge, Christer Hongisto, Inka Matilainen, Elisa Ikonen. S: Tuukka Nikkilä. M: Salla Luhtala. 8 min
    Contact: Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture / Saara Toivanen,
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 10), Saturday, 7 March 2015

TFF: "A short animation about an old woman whose assistant robot is trying to remind her about something important."

AA:  A rich, refined puppet animation in full colour.  The grandmother is knitting socks. The coffee is ready. There is a low tech robot reminding her of all such things. I like the warm light and colour world of this movie. The robot is also a cleaning person, and it patrols the ancient washing machine. But even the robot is fragile, needing care and maintenance. The grandmother ascends the attic where the machine room is located and fixes the broken light bulb. The stormy sea is visualized via dark plastic. There is a droll, consistent sense of humour in this animation where every detail counts.

Friday, March 06, 2015


FI 2014. Fiction. PC: TAMK. P: Juho Fossi, Valpuri Raappana. D+SC: Jesse Jalonen. DP: Lauri Harju. S: Joni E. Heinonen. ED: Riku Leino. C: Jesse Pihkanen (Pauli), Tommi Raitolehto (Tommi), Riitta Ryhtä (Laura), Marja Pyykkö (Malla), Valtteri Turunen (Pauli's pal), Juha Elomäki (apartment owner), Heikki Kiviniitty (Pulsu on the bus). 23 min
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "When the mother and the stepfather of the 16-year-old Pauli get a divorce, Pauli moves to live with his stepfather."

AA: A story about life in blended families. The awkward approach is both intentional and unintentional. There is an atmosphere of living in temporary circumstances.
    There is a sharp dramatic scene when the stepfather's lady friend and Pauli have a row in the kitchen. The lady friend wonders what Pauli is doing in the apartment, and Pauli replies that at least he is not paying for it with his ass. The wrong thing to say to a pregnant wife-to-be.
    Pauli has now burned his bridges with everybody and stays alone at night in the bitter cold. It is mother who comes to the rescue.
    Visually this borders on home movie quality.

Kukka-Hauta / Flower-Grave

FI 2014. Animation. PC: The Dead Will Rise. P+D+SC+AN+ED: Malakias. S+M: Yrjö Saarinen. Theme song: "Eternal Flame" perf. The Bangles. 5 min
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: ""If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left." (Albert Einstein)"

AA:  A drolatic animation with visual fantasy and wit, a hot and delicious colour world and a wild organic imagination. There are plant forms, a hedonistic bee, and a gravestone being carved. Warm colours, organic forms, splatter images, funeral bureau scenes, a bee captured into a casket going towards the crematorium, saved by a monkey. There is a monkey funeral, and now it's the bee's turn to save the little monkey. "If we die we'll die together".

Lišša / The Scythe

Viikate. FI 2014. Documentary. PC: Saamelaisalueen Koulutuskeskus. P: Erkki Feodoroff. D+SC+AN+ED+M: Jonne Järvinen. DP: Miikka Miinala. S: Miikka Miinala, Elmeri Härkönen. Teacher-advisor: Katja Gauriloff. Featuring: Markus Laiti, Piera Guttorm. 13 min
    Location: Finnish Lapland, Sami region: Utsjoki (the northernmost municipality of Finland and EU).
    In Sami language with Finnish subtitles by Unni Länsman.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "A short documentary film about the love of work through the eyes of two different generations. An old craftsman acts as a guide to a young apprentice into the traditional knowledge of handicraft. Is there still a place for this expertise in modern society? The young man Markus has spent most of his life in the city. Now he returns to his roots and discovers a passion in handicraft. He dreams of making a living through this passion. At his childhood village there lives an old master craftsman, Piera. The master is eager to share his knowledge, and together they create a scythe."

AA: A nice and tender account about tradition and modernity in Lapland.
    Résumé: the old-timer Piera wields his old-fashioned scythe on the meadow. Two guys negotiate the Outakoski river on a speedboat. The old master teaches the young apprentice Markus how to carve and hew the shaft of a scythe from a piece of solid curved wood (see image above). Splinters fly. The master carpenter is also a boat builder. 
    Visuals: home video quality.


FI 2015. Animation. P+D+SC+AN+DP+S+ED+M: Pink Twins. 10 min
    Contact: AV-Arkki - Distribution Centre for Finnish Media Art / Hanna Joensuu -
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "Parametronomicon presents a model of parametric virtual life. A biomechanic organism moves, multiplies and regenerates in an elaborate series of convulsive movements. Its life spans from simple formations to inevitable apocalyptic visions of an over-the-top visual orgy."

AA: An experimental computer animation, a musical and visual experience. A form emerges from the darkness. It is a fantasy machine in garish colour. The colours change. It is a glamour machine. It evokes disco from the 1970s and the 1980s. The music is at times dominant, pushing the visuals. This is a machine of self-destruction. Perhaps it is an image of creative destruction.

Pojat / The Sons

FI 2014. Fiction. PC: Lahden ammattikorkeakoulu. P: Erkki Perkiömäki, Isabella Karhu. D+SC: Isabella Karhu. DP: Tuomas Peltonen. S+M: Juho Tanskanen. ED: Saana Jurmu. C: Henrik Heselius (Riku), Antti Kaarlela (Jarkko), Mikko Pörhölä (Keijo), Jemina Sillanpää (Noora), Inkeri Mertanen (mother). 17 min
    A student film for directing, cinematography, editing and sound design.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "The Sons tells the story of three quarrelsome brothers, all whom are united one more time under the roof of their childhood home to confront each other and a looming tragedy in their family."

AA:  Three brothers return to their parental home in the countryside. Mother is not well. She hardly wakes up anymore. They take turns in watching over her. One of the brothers is a bit tense and hard to bear for the others. "Wouldn't it be nice to live here?" asks the young wife. "Everything has changed now".
    The brothers start to quarrel while the dying mother connects with her young daughter-in-law whom she has never met before. It is her hand she holds as she dies, smiling at the familiar sound of the quarreling sons.
    There is a languid approach in this movie. Nothing wrong here, but there is a lack of intensity.

Äiti / Mother

FI/HR 2014. Fiction. PC: Napa Films. Slavica Film. P: Jenni Koski. D: Otto Kylmälä. SC: Otto Kylmälä, Heli Tamminen - based on a story by Otto Kylmälä. DP: Joni Juutilainen. S: Toni Teivaala. ED: Denis Golenja. M: Domas Strupinskas. C: Elias Koistinen (Elias), Seidi Haarla (mother, Helena), Jesse Vinnari (father, Jari). 11 min
    In Finnish with English subtitles by Jenni Koski.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "A family of three is driving in the middle of the night. Mother, recovering from depression, tries to reconnect with her son Elias, after a long absence in mental health institution. Elias is not ready to hear about the painful memories that took his mother away. Instead, Elias asks her to tell him his favourite bedtime story. It is a tale of a peculiar, moonstruck cow, that was let to wander on the fields in the moonlight, trusted with finding her way home. As mother is reciting the story, Elias closes his eyes and wanders off to his imagination. He finds himself on the cow paddock, with his mother, feeling the warmth oozing from the cows. The sweet fantasy ends in a painful memory, with Elias losing sight of his mother going astray in the woods, fearing she is lost forever. Mother is based on a strong emotional narrative of a family dealing with mental illness. The story is accompanied with a provoking and enigmatic visual interpretation that sheds light on the real and magical in the world of bi-polar disorder. Mother presents a moment when there's understanding within the family that gives hope for the future."

AA: There is a strong sense of psychological presence in this family story, and an oneiric intensity in the mother's tale of the moonstruck cow.
    Résumé: Darkness. Freeway. The father is driving, the son Elias is playing, the mother is resting on the back seat. "Which circuit, Iceman?". They stop for an ice cream at the service station. While the father is waiting impatiently outside the mother tells Elias a story about the moonstruck cow. We cut into the vision of the nocturnal view, and to a flashback of visiting mother earlier at the mental hospital.
Elias Koistinen (Elias), Seidi Haarla (mother, Helena)

Teemapuisto / Theme Park

FI 2015. Experimental. P+D+SC+DP+ED: Risto-Pekka Blom. Voice: Jouni Piirainen. S: Petri Koskimäki. 5 min
    Loc: Koskikeskus Mall (Tampere).
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "A video about an air-filled figure at the shopping centre."

AA: A humoristic dramatization of the dancing balloon's imagined monologue. "You are being loved. You owe to no one. You will get everything".
    Visual look: home video quality.

Rakastuneita naisia / Women in Love

FI 2014. Fiction. P+D+SC: Eeva Putro. DP: Elka Lupunen. S: Toni Ilo. M: Perttu Inkilä. 7 min
    In Finnish with English subtitles.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "Eeva Putro’s new film Women in Love tells about the diversity of gender, the different ways of being a woman and above all, about love."

AA: There is a delicate sense of intimacy and tenderness in Eeva Putro's movie. The blonde and gentle one has questions about the dark and strong one's gender. "An ex of mine once messed up with my head". "I never wanted to be a man". "I see you as a woman. I am very happy about that".

Perintö / The Legacy

Click to enlarge.
FI 2014. Fiction. PC: Silva Mysterium Oy. P: Mika Ritalahti, Niko Ritalahti. D: Jussi Hiltunen. SC: Petra Forstén. C: Onni Tommila, Iivari Raittinen, Aki Oksala, Sasa Toivonen, Jorma Tommila. 27 min
    A film belonging to Suomalainen Novellielokuva 2014 / The Finnish Short Story Film 2014 by The Finnish Film Foundation and The Finnish Broacasting Company.
    Contact: +358 40 7074848 - -
    In Finnish with English subtitles.
    Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

Official introduction: "Pojista tulee esikuviensa kaltaisia" - "Boys grow up in the likeness of their models."

"A short film, a growing-up story, about brotherhood and a chain of a Legacy from the father and the grandfather which will destroy them if it is not broken. Two brothers, aged six and twelve, have a fateful meeting during one summer day with two grown-up brothers. The meeting forces everyone to make choices with irreversible outcomes."

AA: Fiction, a short story film, a violent family story. The grandfather's legacy is a handgun. The two sets of brothers meet with a fatal outcome, but there is hope in the younger generation. Well-made, with good performances by the young actors.


Click to enlarge.
FI 2013. Documentary. D+DP+ED+S: Lauri Astala. 10 min
    Contact: AV-Arkki - Distribution Centre of Finnish Media Art / Hanna Joensuu,
Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "The theme of Transit revolves around the collective visual ideas and notions of the urban environment. Through the camera movements, angles and framings, the “documentary” shots taken in New York shift the city into a fictitious urban space, whose visual familiarity stems from the history of film."

AA: Experimental. Visions of New York from unexpected angles. Nocturnal, upside down, in slow motion. There is an affinity with Ernie Gehr. The film is about New York as a living entity seen from constantly and totally changing perspectives. Energetic, impressive, effective, and highly visual.


Click to enlarge!
FI/CZ 2014. Animation. D+SC: Katariina Lillqvist. AN: Alfons Mensdorff. DP: Patricia Ortiz Martinez. S: Tero Malmberg. ED: Katariina Lillqvist, Patricia Ortiz Martinez. 9 min
    No dialogue.
Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "In an remote east European town, the evening bells can´t hide the cry of a hungry baby. Its father, a street-musician named Baro, is also having a bad day. The social curator is blaming him to be a miserable parent, and shivering the whole day on a square is not a healthy option for the child anyway. But Baro refuses to obey the advice of the curator: he definitely won´t put his little one into the BabyBox across the street, no way how poor they are. But the old grandfather disagrees, and finally the whole family ends up down into the mysterious labyrints of BabyBox where everything is on sale."

AA: A new masterful puppet animation by Katariina Lillqvist, Baby-Box is set in post-Wall Eastern Europe. The animation is magical, the visual quality is excellent. There is a dark sense about the dangers to humanity in our liberalistic world, yet also a sense of hope for mankind.
    My résumé: There is an accordeon player and his crying baby, and a Baby-Box for unwanted children for adoption. It looks like a furnace door. The accordeon player descends via the sewer to the underworld. There is a the desperate fisherman grandfather. The fisherman makes the decision to put the baby into the box. There is a sound of the baby falling into the abyss. The baby enters the infernal reception center. The baby is rejected for adoption. There are two other options: "trash" or "transplant". The accordeon player catches a luminous fish. The repentant accordeon player and fisherman rush into the the baby box. They find the transplant department with body parts. Finally they all land into the trash sewer. Meanwhile the fisherman has discovered and rescued the baby there. They give the baby box lady = "the social worker" the tar and feathers treatment. Finally the gypsies all play together in a Glowing Gypsies of the Universe band.


FI 2014. Documentary. P+D+SC+DP+S+ED: Okku Nuutilainen. 6 min
Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "What happens to a domestic animal when it is no longer useful for anything."

AA: An experimental style documentary. There is a female commentator telling about a childhood memory of catching rats to destroy them, and raising geese and abandoning them. The last surviving goose could fly but did not. Yet finally it escaped to freedom. The visuals, often blurred, are in home video / experimental style. Thoughtful about our way with nature and animals.

Karkuri / The Deserter

[the title appears also in Arabic]. Animation. A film based on an interview with Mohamed Botros. FI 2014. PC: Pirkanmaan Elokuvakeskus. P+D+AN+SC+ED: Kalle Raittila. M: Tenho Mattila. S: Juho Salmi. 14 min
    In Arabic with English subtitles.
    Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

Tampere Film Festival: "The Deserter is an animated film about a high-ranking Syrian police officer, who graduated the police academy a few years before the Syrian Uprising. 'I felt then that the duty of every honest citizen was to help save what was to be saved from the hands of the corrupt people backed by the ruling junta,' he says. He ends up betraying his government after witnessing its organized brutality towards ordinary people. As he also has a medical degree, he begins to offer secret medical aid to the victims of the violence. Apart from the personal story, the film touches upon the birth of the ongoing conflict in Syria through the narrator's own experiences and memories. He talks about corruption, the decades-long oppression of the Sunni Muslims, the refugees starving at the camps in neighbouring countries, the indifference of the rest of the world, and the radicalization of ordinary citizens. This man, who chose helping instead of killing, has to pay a high price for his actions."

AA: The devastating story of Syria as an animation based on a true story starts in a small village outside Aleppo. There is a rich panorama of life caught in lively and exciting tracking shots. There is an account of the police force seen from the inside. Anti-government graffiti leads to police repression. There is a simple, efficient graphic quality in the account on police torture and executions. The injustice fires a rebellion. The protagonist helps victims and warns about planned raids. The protagonist himself is warned. "Therefore I left Syria." The protagonist helps rebels as a doctor. The unjust silence of the world raises questions in Syria. The children are left in a place of no return. "All my attempts to get asylum failed until I came to Finland."
    I like the sober and stark quality of this engrossing animation.


Силламяэ. Fiction. FI 2014. PC: Aalto University. P+D+SC: Lauri Randla. DP: Tuomo Hutri. S: Tiia Vestola. ED: Leo Liesvirta. M: Tiia Vestola. 9 min
    Contact: Aalto University / Saara Toivanen,
    In Finnish with English subtitles.
    Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

Tampere Film Festival: "The 7 year old Johannes is staying at his grandparents in an enclosed military town of Sillamäe. The desire to see his mother puts Johannes on an escape journey through the steep hills of Sillamäe military district. As a getaway car he has a toy Moskvitch and as a companion his only true friend Crocodile Gena, as they drive towards the city of Tartu 180 kilometers away."

AA: A tender character study of a little boy 30 years ago in Soviet Estonia. The little boy Johannes is on his way to Tartu on his foot-powered toy car. He is given a lift by his friendly grandfather. Johannes's mother calls him and sings him a lullaby. Beautiful cinematography by Tuomo Hutri.

Seeing Black Cows

FI 2014. Experimental. P+D+SC+AN+DP+ED: Nuutti Koskinen. M: Jani Lehto, Nuutti Koskinen. S: Jani Lehto.
    DCI 2K (1.85:1), 13 min
    Tampere Film Festival, Friday 6 March 2015

Official introduction: "Seeing Black Cows is an experimental animated short film. The name is derived from a metaphor "the night in which all cows are black", coined by Hegel to criticize the philosophy of romanticism. As a metaphor the black cows represent something in the threshold of our perception: a kind of indefinable, inseparable otherness, loathed by our rational mind which seeks to measure, quantify and classify our existence. However, could it be that in the end this quantification turns against us, converting the black night into white noise, the indefinable into the purposeless?"

"The work compares our tendency to define ourselves as separate from our environment, from other people as well as our bodies and (in the end) our very thoughts - spinning this cartesian spiral of identification towards alienation.

AA: Experimental photorealistic animation - visionary - with an ominous sound world - entering a nocturnal nature, forest - imagery like in negative -  starkly reduced and transformed colours - changing layers of perspective - animation based on photorealism - trees fall - apocalyptic sounds - like in an earthquake - a strange light emerges from an abyss - flying stones - flying leaves and debris - emerges a freeway tunnel with a 100 km speed limit - an animated car driver - dashboard - side mirrors - from the side mirror the driver sees a house - a change of perspective to the senior female in the house - back to the driver - slow motion - the two coffee cups - coffee like magma - flying objects in the senior woman's room - split image: the driver and the senior woman having coffee - the driver checks his heartrate at his mobile detector - extreme close up of heart biology - the microbic world - the electronic world - back to the dark forest - concluding in an orange sunrise.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Who the Devil Can See in the Dark / Kuka piru pimeässä näkee

Mari Soppela sets with his father to find her grandfather in Germany
FI/NL (c) 2015 KTV B.V., LPMA Productions. Documentary. PC: L.P.M.A. Productions. P: Mari Soppela, Leo Anemaet. D+ED: Mari Soppela. DP+M+S: Leo Anemaet. Theme song: "Sulle salaisuuden kertoa mä voisin" (George de Godzinsky, Eine Laine) perf. Harmony Sisters & Dallapé Orchestra (1942). "Yö pustalla" (V. Tynnilä, J. Kukkonen, K. Valkama), Dallapé Orchestra (1939). 71 min,
    2K DCP in Finnish and German with Finnish subtitles
    Tampere Film Festival, Thursday, 5 March 2015
    The title of the film is a quotation from the director's grandmother, herself not sure about the identity of the baby's father.

Elonet synopsis: "The father's father of director Mari Soppela was a German soldier whom the offspring now tries to track."

DocPoint 2015 introduction: "Taboos are finally being broken. Mari Soppela‘s latest documentary is a journey into Finland’s intimate recent history. Soppela’s grandmother left Finland with a German soldier during World War II and returned with a child. The boy grew up in the northern Finland not knowing who his father was."

"Thousands of people in Europe have a similar background. In Finland, it is estimated that there are 700 children who were fathered by German soldiers. The mothers were branded as fallen women and traitors."

"In the documentary, Soppela and her father set out to investigate who her grandfather was and what his story might have been. All they know is his name and even that isn’t fully confirmed. When the investigation begins, old photos, Facebook and DNA tests all prove to be useful tools. The film is a perceptive portrayal of secrets within a family and the relationships between family members. It has taken 70 years for this topic to be tackled in films.
" Taina Vuokko, translation: Liina Härkönen

AA: A family affair, an intimate documentary created within the inner circle. Via reminiscences, letters, and photo albums we approach the mystery of the director's grandfather, a German soldier stationed in North Finland.  There are also military records, prison records, and death certificates. Mari Soppela recognizes in herself a transgenerational identity trauma, but her father could hardly be bothered. (A familiar set-up in the tradition of intimate family trauma documentaries of the last generation or so, in films such as Pappa och jag). There is a comical aspect in this quest as the director's father reluctantly agrees to participate in her daughter's obsession. The film feels like the director's therapy exercise into which we are invited. But there is nothing pathological here. Instead, there is a droll sense of humour.

Another humoristic view is the question-mark-riddled family tree of the sought-after grandfather, initially introduced as Peter Jung but actually called Ernst Elter; he had more than one child off the official, marriage-based lineage. There is a DNA test. The fundamental question: what is it that makes a family? And for the director: who am I? The father compares her daughter with Don Quixote. In Amsterdam the result of the DNA test is revealed: it is negative. There is a scene of mutual embarrassment as the quixotic nature of the quest is confirmed.

There is a home-cooked quality in this film.


Between Rings / Estherin kehä

Between Rings. Esther Phiri, national heroine of Zambia.
Woman on Hold. FI/ZM 2014. Documentary. PC: Helmi Films Ltd. P: Tahir Aliyev. D+SC: Salla Sorri, Jessie Chisi. DP: Marita Hällfors, Päivi Kettunen. S: Anne Tolkkinen, Mikko Mäkeläinen, Miki Brunou. ED: Jukka Nykänen, M: Miki Brunou. 83 min
Tampere Film Festival, Thursday, 5 March 2015

IMDb: "After trading her marriage for a boxing career, 7 time world welterweight champion, Esther is torn between her family obligations and cultural expectations."

Tampere Film Festival: "Whilst most young women in her home town in Zambia were busy planning weddings, Esther Phiri had other ideas - to stay single, be a professional boxer and complete the high school education that she abandoned, when her family fell on hard times. Her quick and meteoric rise to a undefeated world champion took not only the boxing world by surprise but sent emotions to a fever pitch. But whilst the global press rushed to portray the image of the strong and confident woman tagged 'Zambia's Million Dollar Baby', in private, Esther slowly crumbled under the weight of her success. Adulation and celebrity had increased on the one hand but so had criticism, envy and expectations from her family and fans. In the pursuit of independence from a husband, her global success had made her a symbol of hope and empowerment and a provider for her family and friends whose demands increased as Esther's fortune grew."

AA: This fascinating documentary film on Esther Phiri, the national heroine of Zambia, could also make a fine companion piece with Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby (2004) starring Hilary Swank. With When We Were Kings (1996) it could make a triple bill.

But Esther Phiri's story is unique, a story of strong woman's struggle against traditional expectations. Her strength is physical, but even more decisively, it is spiritual. This is a story about the strength of character. It is about achievement and also about knowing when to stop.

Her mother: "I just put her onto God's hands".

The gym scenes are lively, full of energy, rhythm, and a sense of humour. We see Esther as a role model in keeping fit. We see Esther also as an advisor to her niece who fails to follow her advice on getting education. We see her throwing a big garden party. We see her enjoying life after her boxing career. But there is a final caption: Esther returns to boxing in 2014.

Beautiful cinematography by Marita Hällfors and Päivi Kettunen. A tribute to the beauty of the light and the people of Zambia.


Matka minuksi / Becoming Me

FI 2014. Documentary. PC: Avanton Productions. P: Sonja Lindén. D: Mina Laamo. DP: Päivi Kettunen, Tuomo Hutri. ED: Tuuli Kuittinen. S: Janne Laine. M: Karl Frid & Pär Frid. 75 min
    2K DCP. In Finnish with English subtitles by Jukka Sorsa.
    Tampere Film Festival, Thursday, 5 March 2015

The producer's motto: "Avanton Productions produces creative documentaries, which observe humanity and the world around us with a personal and sensitive touch."

Avanton Productions synopsis: "Becoming Me follows three young women who are struggling with the real and imagined demands and pressures of today’s society. The film is a journey from alienation towards the slow process of accepting yourself, reaching out for others and trying to find the lost feeling of belonging."

DocPoint introduction: "Three young women from different parts of Finland all have blogs where to share a specific part of their lives. Behind the screen they drift between their own thoughts and feelings and the expectations of the outside world."

"Elli has quit her blog because it idealised eating disorders. She believes that the blog dragged her even deeper into her illness. She has gradually overcome her eating disorder but mentally she is still unstable."

"Juulia does not simply drink her coffee but asks her mother to take a picture of the occasion first. Under the colourful shell is a business administration student who would rather avoid social situations. Her job is to produce pictorials of beautiful clothes and get buried under piles of makeup. It is interesting to see how one of the most renowned fashion bloggers in Finland describes the commercial cooperation of blogs and businesses."

"Laura who struggles with self-loath becomes anxious as she tries to eat healthy, ethically and ecologically. She hopes that everything will get better when she finally moves to Japan."

"This stylishly filmed documentary follows these three women as the seasons change, when everything seems close to crashing down and new hope rises. It reaches deep without becoming voyeurism.
" Aino Salonen / Translation: Anniina Hautakoski. DocPoint 2015

AA: Mina Laamo is on a journey to almost inaccessible layers of the human mind, delicate and fragile processes of shaping one's identity.

One of the fundamental changes of documentary film-making has been the one in attitudes to privacy. We talk about "the end of privacy" in discussing ubiquitous cyber surveillance such as documented in Citizenfour.

But this is also an age of a voluntary end of privacy, people revealing almost everything about their private lives on the internet. The three blogger protagonists of Becoming Me, Elli, Laura, and Juulia, discuss fashion, anorexia, and food, as means in their quest for identity.
 "I have often heard that one is a heap of diagnoses. [Disapproving chuckle.] [They call me] 'Diagnosis Elli'". "I function at the level of 56 [out of 100]." Three candles are burning: HOPE - LOVE - JOY.

There are original insights here about cyberworld and the popularity of self-portraits on the net. But Becoming Me is not a film about the internet, it is a film about the three young female protagonists. The intimacy is astonishing. There is even therapy session footage. No actress could be more impressive. The current generation has learned to portray self naturally in a documentary film. In the history of the documentary film that has been exceptional during previous generations. An element of narcissism may be involved, but there is more.

As is characteristic for Avanton productions, the film is visually ravishing. Päivi Kettunen and Tuomo Hutri are to be congratulated for the delicious cinematography. The film deals with depression, among other things, and the light and joy of the visuals are an essential counterweight. Life is beautiful, if we can only learn to make the most of it.


Talvivaaran miehet / Men of Talvivaara Mine

FI 2015. Documentary. PC: Zone2 Pictures Oy. P: Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen. D+SC: Markku Heikkinen. DP: Markku Heikkinen, Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen. ED: Tuula Mehtonen. M: Joonatan Portaankorva. 73 min
    Contact: Zone2 Pictures Oy / Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen,
    Tampere Film Festival, Thursday, 5 March 2015

Tampere Film Festival: "It is snowing on a huge steamy field. The spotlight sees orange dots moving around. Radiophone conversations: “What’s the temperature like? The new block seems to function alright, the bacteria are working, good vibes, over 40 degrees Celsius…”"

"The Man from Talvivaara is a documentary about the meaningfulness of working for a mining company going from crisis to crisis. The film will follow four professionals from Kainuu working in a gloomy sci-fi setting, whose proportions make a human being but a small cog in a big machine."

"The state-of-the-art process of “bioheapleaching” was said to bring nickel and zinc into the world market and to give proper processing industry work for the hundreds of employees facing unemployment. What is the worth of a professional now in this mining company balancing on the brink of bankruptcy? How should he justify the meaning of his work to himself and to those close to him, if his job is constantly in the midst of a profitability and environmental crisis? How can you be the man from Talvivaara, when you cannot even send your son to day care wearing a Talvivaara cap, and when your family is concerned about your health?"

"Workers between the ages of 30 and 40 are stuck between a rock and a hard place: their houses are now built, and new babies are on the way. They would like to live in Kainuu, close to the wildlife, being able to hunt and fish – if only they could bring in their daily bread from Talvivaara."

"The film begins in the foggy production fields of Talvivaara. It is November 2013, and the financial crisis is starting to dawn on everyone in all its gruesomeness. It is now up to those who work at Talvivaara to find out if the conditions set by the investors can be met: productivity has to be improved, the machinery has to work properly, no accidents are allowed, and the water masses gathered in the area have to be drained. The fate of the company will be decided within the next couple months. Will the company be forced to declare bankruptcy or debt restructuring, or will it fall into the arms of a new owner? What will the men from Talvivaara do? Might there be other kind of work available for them?

AA: A solid, well-researched, sober piece of investigative film documentary journalism about the debacle of the Talvivaara Mining Company in Sotkamo in the Kainuu region famous for its splendid forests, lakes and rivers. It is also the home of the largest nickel deposit in Europe.

The ambitious and experimental strategies of the mining company failed spectacularly, and the company was in scandal headlines for years.

Markku Heikkinen and Heikki-Pekka Vitikainen dramatize the conflict directly via the protagonists and the participants of the tragedy. Clean nature and clear water are among the treasures of Finland, now in danger in Sotkamo.

The visual look is of excellent documentary quality. There is a dynamic contrast between heavy industry and sublime nature. The interviews and the footage of talking heads are lively and engaging. This is very much a human drama thanks to the documented urgency in the faces and the voices of the deeply concerned protagonists.



FI 2014. Documentary. PC: Gateway Films Oy. D+SC: Lasse Keso. DP: Heikki Färm, Sampsa Huttunen, Minna Laatikainen, Lasse Keso - 2K DCP (Tommi Gröhn / James Post). M producer (Gateway Films): Lasse Keso. S: Jyrki Sahla (sound design), Pekka Karjalainen (sound mixing / Meguru Film Sound). ED: Lasse Keso. Research: Deniz Bedretdin. 74 min
    2K DCP in Finnish with English subtitles by Sarka Hantula.
    Tampere Film Festival, Thursday, 5 March 2015

Gateway Films introduction: "A documentary film about music and life - about letting go and starting over In the early 70s, the Finnish guitarist Jukka Tolonen, celebrated by the international music press, chose to continue his well-begun solo career instead of joining the bands of artists such as Cat Stevens and Abba. However, things didn't go as planned. By the late 90s, Tolonen found himself living in staircases in Stockholm and ended up in Kerava Prison in 2008 for assaulting his girlfriend under the influence of amphetamine and alcohol. His life had been a mess for a long time, his marriages had broken up and he was in poor health. Doctors considered it a miracle that he was even alive. The documentary follows Tolonen from 2006 onwards, from the time just before the sad incident through druggy guitar sessions, the trial, prison time and his release. The film winds up in year 2012 - in a studio where Timo Kämäräinen, Risto Toppola and Teemu Viinikainen are recording a tribute album of Tolonen's compositions. Jukka attends the recordings and passes the baton to a new generation of master musicians. The documentary is a warm and touching story of giving up, survival and finding a new beginning. It is also a story of how Tolonen's music continues to live on in the hands of young musicians. The tribute album Kämäräinen, Toppola, Viinikainen Play Tolonen was released at the turn of 2014."

AA: A rock documentary. A rise and fall story of Jukka Tolonen made together with him and his circle. It is also a tribute to the entire span of Jukka Tolonen's musical career, including an extended contemporary tribute by the young musicians Timo Kämäräinen, Risto Toppola, and Teemu Viinikainen.

We witness the emergence of a talented young guitarist with a nice and gentle personality, a good family man. But the tour managers of the record labels maybe considered it de rigueur to provide stars with drugs and groupies. Be that as it may, Tolonen hit rock bottom, and injured, lost his ability to play. In this film he faces the facts on camera.

Tolonen belongs to the early inspired phase of progressive rock. Born in 1952, Tolonen started to play professionally in 1966, and his first appearance on a music record was in 1967 (on Finnish cover versions of "No Milk Today" and "Lady Jane"). The Jimi Hendrix Experience played in Helsinki in 1967, an important influence on Finnish progressive rock via Blues Section (1967-1968), itself an inspiration on Tolonen and his band Tasavallan Presidentti (1969-1974 with many reincarnations). Tolonen's guitar playing in its prime still sounds terrific.

But "I needed a punishment severe enough to realize how I have sinned". A long sequence is dedicated to Jukka Tolonen's Eastern Orthodox Church experience. I have nothing but respect to its religious substance.

But Jukka Tolonen's gospel music is a punishment to the viewer. I am constantly amazed at the fact that the best music in the world is religious. One need only to be reminded of one name: J. S. Bach. With music like that, one could ignore everything else. I'm equally amazed at the fact that so much of the most banal music is religious. As a listener to Yle Radio Ykkönen I get to hear the morning devotion programmes with daily reminders of that.

Tolonen is a solid rockumentary, but I would prefer the gospel part shortened. The message of "I once was lost and now I am found" is clear enough anyway.