Sunday, April 24, 2016

Kanashimi no Beradonna / Belladonna of Sadness (2016 digital restoration in 4K)

Eiichi Yamamoto: 哀しみのベラドンナ / Kanashimi no Beradonna / Belladonna of Sadness. From JFilm Pow Wow (Chris MaGee).

哀しみのベラドンナ/ La Sorcière.
    JP 1973. PC: Mushi Production. Original distributor: Nippon Herald Eiga. P: Tadami Watanabe.
    D: Eiichi Yamamoto. SC: Yoshiyuki Fukuda, Eiichi Yamamoto – based on the book La Sorcière (1862) by Jules Michelet. CIN: Shigeru Yamazaki. AN: Gisaburo Sugii. M: Masahiko Sato. Songs: Mayami Tachibana (music), Yu Aku, Asei Kobayashi (lyrics). ED: Masashi Furukawa. Narrated by: Chinatsu Nakayama.
    Voice C: Aiko Nagayama (Jeanne / Belladonna), Katsuyuki Ito (Jean), Masaya Takahashi (Milord), Shigako Shimegi (Milady), Tatsuya Nakadai (The Devil), Tatsuya Tashiro (Witch), Masakane Yonekura (Catholic Priest). 89 min
    Viewed from a screener link.
    Cinema Andorra, Animatricks, Helsinki, 24 April 2016

Eija Niskanen (Animatricks): "Jeanne and Jean are lovers in medieval Europe, during a time when feudal lords had a say in everything, including the first right for the wedding night with Jeanne. The event separates the lovers and Jeanne makes a deal with Satan (voice-acted by Tatsuya Nakadai the well-known film actor) to form a rebel army to fight the ruler."

"The wonderfully rich animation, revealing the talent of the young Gisaburo Sugii at the beginning of his career, provides a delight for the eye with its delicate use of line and color. The 4K restoration brings a must-see classic of animation and Japanese anime finally back to the silver screen.

Animatricks: "This is a story about a young and beautiful woman, who has lived a life of hardship. She sells her soul to Satan in order to obtain the powers that enable her to lead a rebellion, but it ends tragically as she is burned at the stake. The story is set in France during medieval times, where Christianity had reached its zenith and the feudal lord was the personification of God. This story was inspired by Jules Michelet’s non-fiction book "Satanism and Witchcraft"."

AA: Hardly any good explicit erotic films exist although that genre is by far the biggest of all.

Of the films that I have seen Eiichi Yamamoto's Japanese anime Cleopatra (1970) has been one of the rare exceptions. Thus I was looking forward to see Belladonna of Sadness, Yamamoto's next film after Cleopatra.

The film starts with a horrible jus primae noctis sequence. (Another case of a cancelled wedding night in the cinema). The young love of Jeanne and Jean is destroyed for good although they stay together.

Recovering, the crushed Jeanne is caught in the spell of the ghost of Eros which awakens in her a new life force, mightier than ever before. The ghost appears as a kind of a phallic shinto shrine. It is alive, keeps growing and shrinking and speaks in the voice of Tatsuya Nakadai. Spellbound and ravished by the ghost Jeanne transforms into a rebel leader, a witch, a healer, a guiding spirit for the villagers.

There is war, and Black Death (in a vision that pays homage to Murnau's Faust). Jeanne is needed now because of her healing powers, including her understanding of the effects of the belladonna flower. She becomes a life-affirming spirit for the village, also arranging wonderful feasts which resemble the Roman Saturnalia or the Nordic Midsummer Night celebrations.

Based on a book of Jules Michelet, the great historian of the French Revolution, one may guess that this animation is not faithful to its letter. But it may be faithful to the spirit of Michelet. Belladonna of Sadness is a film of social indignation, about the oppression of the people in feudal, autocratic France before the Revolution. The final image of the movie is a close-up of Marianne in Eugène Delacroix's La Liberté guidant le peuple (1830).

Jeanne is a rebel and a witch, and there are references in her character to Joan of Arc, Jesus Christ and Marianne. Most of all she is an incarnation of Aphrodite, of Venus, the goddess of love.

Belladonna of Sadness is a rich and fascinating work. It overflows with ideas. There is no unity of style; instead, there is a variety of eclectic and psychedelic approaches in a mix that might be called post-modern. Some of the approaches are kitsch. There is a fundamental gravity and a sense of tragedy. At the same time there is a hilariously irresponsible attitude to the eclecticism of the dozens of styles on display.

Much of the film is not animated at all: instead we follow a series of still drawings. On the other hand, key sequences are veritable fireworks of imaginative animation. For an animation aficionado this is a film worth revisiting, perhaps even for slow-forwarding passages or even stopping to examine amazing and outrageous images.

The historical nature of the story by no means inhibits Eiichi Yamamoto from using pop images and pop music in his movie.

As an erotic movie the grandeur of Belladonna of Sadness is based on the contrast of Eros and Thanatos in its Black Death and Saturnalia sequences. The sense of Eros in this movie is fundamental, volcanic, oceanic, cosmic, divine. In an important sense Jeanne is an incarnation of life itself.

Belladonna of Sadness is far from a flawless masterpiece, but it is a magical, unique and unforgettable achievement.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


Director: Rhiannon Evans
Production: National Film & Television School UK
GB 2015
Technique: puppet animation, stop motion animation
Narration/dialogue: English
Duration: 7 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"Adventure through parts of the brain with a little lost thought, discovering what it takes to make a great idea."

AA: It starts at night. The characters are lamps. The protagonist is a lamp that seeks its place in the whole. Finally it jumps into the unknown, into darkness, amidst abandoned goods, and finds its socket. The world lights up. An allegory of the genesis of a bright idea. Original and well made.

Que dalle / Bugger All

Director: Hugo de Faucompret, Eva Lusbaronian, Caroline Cherrier, Johan Ravit, Arthus Pilorget
Production: Gobelins, l'école de l'image
FR 2015
Technique: 2D animation with a drawn and painted look
Narration/dialogue: French
Duration: 2 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"Steven, Sandrine, Joel & Thomas are pretty bored. From the soccer stadium to the garbage dump, passing by the playground, nothing seems to amuse them."

AA: A shocking and alarming story of a group of bored kids who turn to bullies and resort to extreme violence. In the finale they are arrested and end up at the police station. Extremely well made.

Okasan ni naisho / Don't Tell Mom

Director: Sawako Kabuki
Production: Sawako Kabuki
JP 2015
Technique: drawn and painted animation
Duration: 3 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"A nocturnal education film helps children develop their emotions, expressions, language or physical skills by enjoying singing and exercising with a big brother."

AA: A goofy, taboo-ignoring, and transgressive film about exploring young sexuality. There is a sense of innocence in this uninhibited flight of fancy with exaggerated sex organs. A film that can only exist as an animation.


Director: Sander Joon
Production: Estonian Academy of Arts
EE 2015
Technique: drawn and painted animation
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 6 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"An addicted biker runs out of cigarettes."

AA: A wild satire on the madness of bicycle racing with a crazy dimension about doping. There is a joy of hyperbole in this movie with its disjecta membra, mad metamorphoses, and a deft sense of simplification and stylization. There is a Priit Pärn touch in this movie (he was a supervisor in this production).

Altin vuruş / Golden Shot

Golden Shot. Please click to enlarge.

Director: Gökalp Gönen
Production: -
TK 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 9 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"Rusty machines living in their small houses, imagine that the sun will come and take them to the sky someday."

AA: A fantasy about a machine world in eternal night. The most fascinating sequence is a "film in a film" passage where the robot protagonist watches an ancient animation starring the sun. It even discovers an animation studio where it finds out that the sun has been chained. Another fascinating invention is the dancing robots equipped with knives (see the image above). A strong sense of space and fantasy.

Raqqa: An Inside Story

Director: James Dybvig, Sam Stringer-Hye, Megan Specia, Louise Roug
Production: Mashable
US 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation
Narration/dialogue: English
Duration: 4 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"This is a firsthand account of how Islamic State militants took over the city of Raqqa in northern Syria, declaring it their capital."

AA: "Based on a true story". A first person testimony inspires this animation about situations and experiences that no newsreel camera has covered. Images of tyranny, oppression, unspeakable atrocities, children in a mosque, young boys brainwashed and graduated first when they commit an execution. "I miss my town. My face has changed".


Shudo. Please do double click to enlarge maximally.

Director: To-Anh Bach, Charles Badiller, Hugo Weiss
Production: Gobelins, l'école de l'image
FR 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation with a drawn and painted look
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 2 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"Two samurais face one another on a battlefield ravaged by war. Absorbed by their pride, they clash in a duel fuelled by deep emotions."

AA: An impressive vignette in Japanese style. The duel of the samurais is about cruelty and tenderness, love and death. Visually exquisite. A refined painterly look via computer animation.

Missing One Player

Director: Lei Lei
CN 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation with an approach of cut-out animation
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 4,5 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"During a mahjong game a bad situation occurs. Everyone waits for the last player to show up."

AA: A grand cosmic hyperbole on the obsession with mahjong. The missing mahjong player is an astronaut. A limited animation, a space odyssey with flaming comets. A film about the joy of the play. Crazy and original.

Ruben Leaves

Director: Frederic Siegel
Production: Hochschule Luzern – Design & Kunst
CH 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 5 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"Ruben Leaves is an animated short about a man's struggle with OCD."

AA: A boldly stylized visual world with a graphic intensity and pure colour fields, a visualization of the state of the obsessive compulsive disorder. The inner and the outer world are intertwined, a thought can affect reality without mediation. Impressive.

I'm Good with Plants

Director: Thomas Harnett O'Meara
Production: Royal College of Art (England)
GB 2015
Technique: puppet animation, stop motion animation, mixed technique
Narration/dialogue: English
Duration: 8 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"Tim lives in a greenhouse suspended by a crane above the city. A stop motion absurdist comedy."

AA: A romantic Harmagedon story. The guy at the waterworks drowns the Earth in pursuit of Francesca, an elusive call girl. The stay afloat in his private greenhouse. An outlandish story, executed with laconic precision, full of witty detail. Very well made.


Director: James Curran
Production: Partizan
US 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 2 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"James Curran spent a month in New York City where he animated a new GIF every day for 30 days. Each GIF was inspired by something that happened during his stay."

AA: A witty series of 30 GIF animations made in New York on marathon, Empire State Building, pickles, new jeans, gym burgers, beard trim, Brooklyn Bridge... Limited animation as a means of expression. The art of simplification.

Llave de papel / Paper Key

Llave de papel / Paper Key. Please click to enlarge the image.

Director: Jenaro González
Production: Carreta Estudio
CO 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation, a drawn and painted look
Narration/dialogue: Spanish
Duration: 23 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 2: Bulb Fiction) 23 April 2016

"The widespread systematisation of our society is depicted in the story of a man who discovers an exit on the building where he has been working all his Life."

AA: A dystopian corporate fantasy in high style with a staggering flight of fantasy. A story of a quest, a story of an attempt to escape from the labyrinth of the gloomy corporation. The protagonist, the little man, starts to follow a strange chain of reflections of bright light. There seems to be no way out of the huge building. He comes to strange doors, strange locks, strange passages. There is an underground tunnel with a flood of paper. There are strange winds and an infinite waiting room full of zombies with queue numbers. Accidentally the man comes to a solution and enters into a blinding light in the desert. Compelling and very well made.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Orchestra

Director: Mikey Hill
Production: Feather Films Pty ltd
AU 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation, 3D computer animation, a drawn and painted look in the classical style of fully accomplished animation
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 15 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 1: Metamorphosis of Love) 22 April 2016

"In a world filled with beautiful music, Vernon always seems to strike the wrong note."

AA: A gorgeously professional and elaborate production, a well-made romantic comedy animation set in the Lovely Hearts retirement apartments house. The animation comedy insight here is that every character has an orchestra which expresses his or her feelings and which serves to communicate with others with varying degrees of success. This film is very appealing, and it has been made with an excellent polish.

Preisoep / Leek Soup

Director: Jef Staut
Production: Kask Hogeschool Gent
BG 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation with a drawn and painted look
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 3,5 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 1: Metamorphosis of Love) 22 April 2016

"Growing leek is not that easy."

AA: An absurdist, elementary tale about a man's attempt to slim down with leek soup. A strange and unique comic approach.

Chulyen, histoire de corbeau / Chulyen - A Crow's Tale

Director: Agnès Patron / Cerise Lopez
Production: Ikki Films
FR 2015
Technique: black and white, drawn and painted animation
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 20 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 1: Metamorphosis of Love) 22 April 2016
    NB. Corbeau = raven. Crow = corneille.

Animatricks: "Chulyen is strong, Chulyen is handsome. Chulyen is weak, Chulyen is ugly. Chulyen is the crow spirit, and three shamans are chasing him."

IMDb: "Up there, so close to the pole, Chulyen is bored. Half man, half crow, with his pitiless eyes he cuts the world into pieces. When Chulyen covets a giant's kayak, he comes down from the air to charm and deceive him. When Chulyen is starving, he devours alive a plump, pudgy, delicious youngs seal. But the wind rises, and the spirits of the forest are at his heels. This time, Chulyen won't get out of it unscathed. Unless...  "

AA: "Ce film est tiré d'une histoire vraie". The essence of animation is in its affinity with animism. This film is about the power of nature, the might of heaven, the thunder of the sky, the Northern lights, the poetry of the snow. Chulyen the crow spirit is stuck in the limbo between  heaven and earth, but when he is set free there is light, an entrance into infinity. This is a film about metamorphoses: transformations into a birdman and a sealman. The flight of fantasy is remarkable, and the attempt to identify with atavistic, prehistorical imagination is compelling. This is a film about the pre-dawn of consciousness.

Ways of Seeing

Director: Jerrold Chong
Production: California Institute of the Arts
US 2015
Technique: puppet animation, pastel animation, pencil animation
Narration/dialogue: English
Duration: 4,5 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 1: Metamorphosis of Love) 22 April 2016

"Rumble of train rails; Crashing of ocean waves; Soft caress of distant wind. Two people. Two ways of perceiving the world."

AA: The protagonists are blind. One has been blind since birth. The other has been blinded at age ten. This is a visualization of their worlds, different from the others, and different from each other. The vision about getting blind is moving. A well made and personal work.


Directors: Emilie Almaida, Liang Huang, Mansoureh Kamari, Julie Robert, Juliette Peuportier, Tony Unser
Production: Gobelins, l'école de l'image
FR 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation with a watercolour look
Narration/dialogue: English and Japanese
Duration: 3 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 1: Metamorphosis of Love) 22 April 2016

"1950: On the coast of Japan, an American woman is visiting a village with her military husband and a group of friends."

AA: A refined and sensual account of a meeting of cultures. The American woman meets a team of Japanese women divers gathering seaweed. It is a meeting with a different world, an uncomplicated sensuality, and a touch of Lesbianism.


Cowboyland. Do click to enlarge.

Director: Dávid Štumpf
Production: Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava
SK 2015
Technique: b&w drawn and inked look
Duration: 5 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 1: Metamorphosis of Love) 22 April 2016

"According to the justice of the Wild West, thieves must be punished. But when the sheriff's horse breaks, it's hard to forecast if justice stays justice."

AA: A grim and stylized homage to the post-Western, the anti-Western, the cynical Western. There is a talent of condensation. It is a vicious circle tale: a little kid conquers the outlaw, but in the finale he sits in the jail from which the outlaw broke out in the beginning. Skilful and striking.

Etwas / Some Thing

Director: Elena Walf
Production: Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg
DE 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation, a drawn and painted look
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 7 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 1: Metamorphosis of Love) 22 April 2016

Animatricks: "Is it really that bad to have SOME THING strange inside of you what all the others laugh about?!"

IMDb: "Oil, gold and fire are the treasures inside the proud giant mountains. For the little mountain it's impossible to keep up with that. He's just in possession of this tiny, strange and useless SOME THING.

AA: A tale of the three big mountains and one little mountain. While the big mountains are rich in resources the little mountain only has a nut. Out of the nut grows a garden, and the three big mountains are drowned in little nuts. Crazy, original, and consistent, with a simple but personal visual concept.

Le dernier jour d'un condamné / The Last Day of a Condemned

Le dernier jour d'un condamné. Please click to enlarge.

Directors: Perrine Bayssat, Sarah Dhorne, Etienne Molinier, Emilie Phuong, Isabelle Piolat
Production: Gobelins, l'École de l'image
FR 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation, a drawn and painted look
Narration/dialogue: French
Duration: 2 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 1: Metamorphosis of Love) 22 April 2016

"Camille is a young high school girl who is studying for her exams. Bored by her work, Camille has a look into the fridge and finds a live lobster."

AA: Camille plays with the lobster she finds in the icebox but when it returns her kiss with a bite she unceremoniously throws it into the boiling pot. A study in contrasts: surface sweetness with an unblinking flipside of callous cruelty. The style, the art, and the technique are excellent.

A Coat Made Dark

A Coat Made Dark. Please click to enlarge.

Director: Jack O'Shea
Production: Still Films
IE 2015
Technique: 2D computer animation, mixed techniques, drawn animation
Narration/dialogue: English
Duration: 10 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 1: Metamorphosis of Love) 22 April 2016

Animatricks: "Two burglars struggle for power after striking it rich after stealing a mysterious coat containing an impossible fortune."

IMDb: "A man follows the orders of a dog to wear a mysterious coat with impossible pockets."

AA: An extremely dark world and atmosphere full of grim and hideous characters with an animal dimension. An ambience of despair. Original, compelling, mysterious.

Last Judgment

Last Judgment. Please click to enlarge.

Director: Junyi Xiao
Production: University of Southern California
US 2016
Technique: 2D computer animation, drawn and painted animation
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 3 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 1: Metamorphosis of Love) 22 April 2016

"50 years ago, the Culture Revolution took place in China. This short story happened on that special time period, but can be more than that…"

AA: We are remembering the 50th anniversary of the start of the Chinese Culture Revolution, one of the worst periods of destruction of culture in history. This is a simple and powerful vision of a violent confrontation and dehumanization. Effective and personal.

In the Distance

In the Distance. Do click to enlarge!

Director: Florian Grolig
Production: Florian Grolig
DE 2015
Technique: 3D computer animation
Narration/dialogue: only sound and music
Duration: 7 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, International Shorts 1: Metamorphosis of Love) 22 April 2016

"It's calm and peaceful above the clouds. But chaos lurks in the distance and each night it draws closer."

AA: A remarkable visionary animation focusing on a high building from which we only see the top inhabited by a solitary man who owns a hen and a flower pot. There is a war going on but the man stays out of it. There are flying jets. There are aerial dogfights. There are parachutes with provisions. There are ladders with which soldier try to reach our man. He kicks them back. Himself, he has a rope ladder. Strong, consistent, original, well made.

Viikset / The Moustache

Viikset / The Moustache. Please click to enlarge the image.

Director: Anni Oja
Production: Turun Taideakatemia
FI 2015
Technique: puppet animation, stop motion animation
Duration: 4 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"This town is not big enough for the two of them. Nor their moustaches."

AA: I blogged about Viikset at Tampere Film Festival. On repeated viewings its wit and originality is confirmed. Very well made.

Wurmloch / Wormhole

Director: Turun Anikistit
Production: Twisted Films
FI 2016
Technique: 2D computer animation, cut-out animation
Duration: 13 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"Vienna 1914. Otto finds a wormhole into another dimension. It drives his mental health and relationship with Emma into ruins. Both seek help from Freud's couch."

AA: I blogged about Wurmloch at Tampere Film Festival. It's wild, it's offensive, it's taboo breaking, it's transgressive, it's provocative. For me it's interesting because of its "a hundred years ago" angle. Otto is a war invalid, not only physically (he has a wooden leg) but also psychically. Wurmloch can be seen as a vision of war psychosis. Perhaps the continuum of modern art since 1914 is an expression of a collective war psychosis.

Bloody Hungry

Bloody Hungry. Please click to enlarge the image.

Directors: Maaria Laurinen, Juuso Kallioinen, Kristian Vieri, Johanna Aulén, Idia Erharuyi, Santeri Holm, Titta Tolvanen
Production: Metropolia Ammattikorkeakoulu
FI 2015
Technique: computer animation
Duration: 5 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"The modern vampire Hilda wakes up one morning to see her pet bat having drank all of her bloodbags."

AA: An original vampire story. The city vampire Hilda watches violent entertainment on tv while her little bat butler keeps serving her blood bags. But the little bat is too eagerly having his share of the blood at the icebox, and Hilda must resort to extreme measures. With a spinning rod she fishes a human catch from the other side of the street. Well made characters and execution.

Tutkielma n:o 2 / Study Nr. 2

Study Nr. 2. Please click to enlarge.

Director: Kai Lappalainen
Production: Kai Lappalainen
FI 2015
Technique: a drawn, graphic look
Duration: 3,5 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"Abstract narrative. Keywords: perspective, quantity, system, expansion, impossibility."

AA: An abstract film, an experimental film, a study of the limits of perception. Bold abstraction, stark geometrical patterns, with a consistent movement and simple but startling turns of viewpoint. An effective soundtrack of rhythmical machine music.


Director: Henrik Brummer
Production: Metropolia Ammattikorkeakoulu
FI 2015
Technique: computer animation
Duration: 7 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"When an unhappy office worker's sanity is threatened by an overbearing boss to win the Employee of the Year cup, he must choose between his dream and his job."

AA: A dystopian fantasy of a totalitarian office world where there is a tyranny of the smile. The compulsively grinning salarymen are rewarded with badges and public recognition. But when the protagonist, our little man, has had enough, he is unceremoniously thrown out into the rain. A well made generic story.

Poimija / The Picker

Directors: Mika Koskinen, Reetta Hietaranta, Frida Lindholm, Hanne Härkönen, Janna-Riina Perämäki & Noemi Scherer
Production: Turun Taideakatemia
FI 2015
Technique: puppet animation, stop motion animation
Duration: 3 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"A mushroom hunt takes a strange turn."

AA:  A mushroom horror fantasy executed in bright autumn colours. A little boy exploring the forest equipped with a mushroom guide is caught in the lair of a man-eating monster mushroom equipped with a "human being guide". Well made with a vivid imagination and a bold colour world.

Tyhjiö sängyn sisällä / The Void Inside the Bed

Director: Taru Riskilä
Production: Turun Taideakatemia
FI 2015
Technique: drawn and painted look
Duration: 2,5 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"The one who said that monsters live under our beds was wrong. One child learns this the hard way."

AA: A figurative horror tale done with a refined limited animation approach. It is about a girl afraid to fall asleep because there is a bottomless pit in her bed in the dark. When she falls asleep she does fall into the abyss. The space goes into pieces, the girl is dismembered, and her face disappears. When mother comes back to check she meets a daughter without a face. A well made atmospheric psychological horror animation.

Pillua aloittelijoille / Pussy for Beginners

Reetta Aalto: Pillua aloittelijoille / Pussy for Beginners (FI 2015).

Director: Reetta Aalto
Production: Pohjola-Filmi
FI 2015
Technique: drawn and painted look
Duration: 4 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"A film about women's sexuality, genitalia and their functions during sexual interaction. Includes nudity."

AA: An educational film, a public information film with a matter-of-fact approach. Explicit sex is the most widespread topic in moving images today, but it is almost all made in the service of providing a substitute for the real thing. This is a film guide about the real thing, in the service of doing it right. Recommended to young people but also to beginners of all ages. (Aren't we all?) Everybody knows how to procreate but most people do not master the key to full consummation although it is not very complicated. There is wisdom in the plain and subtly witty style of this movie, for instance in the pussy parade demonstrating that all are different.

Murheidenkantaja / Burden

Director: Niina Muikku
Production: Turun Taideakatemia
FI 2015
Technique: drawn and painted look
Duration: 5,5 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"Is the grass greener on the other side of the stone wall?"

AA: A fairy-tale, a parable, an allegory. When you agree to carry the burdens of others there is no end to it. You grow tired, you grow old, and you perish. The little child is the one with no burden at all. Well made, with a talent for generalization and the broad outline.

Yöperhonen / [Papillon de nuit]

Director: Annika Dahlsten
Production: Turun Taideakatemia
FI 2015
Technique: stop motion animation
Duration: 5 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"Memento mori - remember that you must die. The journey of a butterfly becomes a melancholic metaphor of a human life, lost in an unknown world."

AA: A refined visual poem about mortality. The sea, the night, the full moon. A butterfly flies into a flame, is resurrected, drinks red wine, and turns black. The broken window becomes mystically whole again, and when a swarm of butterflies emerges from a skull they all perish by the window. The style, the atmosphere, and the technique are all finely accomplished.


Director: Jessica Koivistoinen
Production: Jessica Koivistoinen
FI 2015
Technique: experimental photograph animation
Duration: 3 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"The world is full of movement in the patterns we see around us. There is certainly something bubbling under."

AA: Photographs animated to an almost abstract movement via fast edit. Patterns, forms, surfaces, textures, colours, walls, rocks, paints, brush strokes, crystals, doors, gates, openings, grids, mosaic, tiles, armored glass, cavities, wood splinters, wooden walls, rock species. There is an engaging machine music rhythm. A distinguished experimental film.


Director: Jouko Raudasoja
Production: Turun ammattikorkeakoulun Taideakatemia
FI 2016
Technique: drawn and painted look
Duration: 4 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"Once upon a time in the dry west they happen to test what is the measure of a man."

AA: An homage to Western iconography, a study in contrasts, a big bad drunkard bullying a little boy. A mad gag with a giant bottle.

a Sun

Director: Lauri Harju
Production: Tampereen Ammattikorkeakoulu
FI 2015
Technique: puppet animation, stop motion animation
Duration: 8 min
Cinema Andorra, Helsinki (Animatricks, New Finnish Animated Shorts) 22 April 2016

"On a small island above the clouds a father and a son have different view on their daily routine of keeping up the sun."

AA: I blogged about a Sun at Tampere Film Festival. A low tech naivist fantasy with a firm sense of atmosphere, humour, and a cosmological, perhaps theological vision.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bells Are Ringing

Langat kuumina / Det ringer, det ringer. US © 1959 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Year of release: 1960. P: Arthur Freed [n.c.]. D: Vincente Minnelli. SC: Betty Comden, Adolph Green – based on their Broadway musical comedy (1956). DP: Milton R. Krasner – Panavision Lenses – Metrocolor – CinemaScope 2,35:1. AD: E. Preston Ames, George W. Davis. Cost: Walter Plunkett. Makeup: William Tuttle. Hair: Sydney Guilaroff. CH: Charles O’Curran. Songs: Jule Styne (music), Betty Comden & Adolph Green (lyrics). S: Franklin Milton (recording supervisor), Van Allen James (sound editor), Conrad Kahn (sound mixer) - Westrex Recording System - 4-Track Stereo. ED: Adrienne Fazan. C: Judy Holliday (Ella Peterson), Dean Martin (Jeff Moss), Fred Clark (Larry Hastings), Eddie Foy, Jr. (J. Otto Prantz), Jean Stapleton (Sue), Bernard West (Dr. Joe Kitchell), Dort Clark (Inspector Barnes), Ralph Roberts (Francis), Valerie Allen (Olga), Frank Gorshin (Blake Barton, beatnik actor), Nancy Walters (actress), Ruth Storey (Gwenn), Steve Peck (gangster), Gerry Mulligan (Ella's blind date). Studio: MGM (Culver City). Loc: East Village (Manhattan). Helsinki premiere: 10.3.1961 Gloria – telecast: 27.8.1983 Yle TV2, 12.5.2013 Yle Teema – VET 56367 – S – 3170 m / 116 min
    A vintage SFI-FA print with Swedish subtitles by Åke Åhlin viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Vincente Minnelli), 19 April 2016
    Original version: 3446 m / 126 min
    Judy Holliday, Jean Stapleton, Dort Clark, Bernard West, and Doria Avila recreated their Broadway roles in this film adaptation.
    The original Broadway production was directed by Jerome Robbins and choreographed by Robbins and Bob Fosse.
    Songs: "Bells Are Ringing", "It's a Perfect Relationship" (Judy Holliday), "Do It Yourself" (Dean Martin), "It's a Simple Little System" (Eddie Foy, Jr. and chorus), "Better Than a Dream" (JH, DM), "I Met a Girl" (DM and chorus), "I Love Your Sunny Teeth" (Bernard West a cappella), "Hot and Cold" (Bernard West), "Mu Cha Cha" (Judy Holliday, Doria Avila, Ruth Storey), "Just In Time" (DM, JH, chorus), "Drop That Name" (JH, chorus), "The Party's Over" (JH, chorus), "The Midas Touch" (Hal Linden, chorus), "I'm Going Back" (JH).
    Songs deleted: "Is It a Crime?" (JH), "My Guiding Star" (DM). There was an alternate take of "The Midas Touch". These have been released as dvd bonus materials by Warner Home Video.
From Wikipedia: "Based on the successful 1956 Broadway production of the same name by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jule Styne, the film focuses on Ella Peterson, who works in the basement office of Susanswerphone, a telephone answering service."

"Peterson, based on Mary Printz, who worked at Green's service, listens in on others' lives and adds some interest to her own humdrum existence by adopting different identities for her clients. They include an out-of-work Method actor, a dentist with musical yearnings, and in particular playwright Jeffrey Moss, who is suffering from writer's block and desperately needs a muse."

"Adding complications to the plot are the police, who are certain the business is a front for an "escort service," and the owner's shady boyfriend, who unbeknownst to her is using the agency as a bookmaking operation.

"Bells Are Ringing was the final musical produced by MGM's 'Freed Unit', headed by producer Arthur Freed, which had been responsible for many of the studio's greatest successes. The film also proved to be Holliday's last big screen appearance.
" (Wikipedia)

AA: While Bells Are Ringing is not a masterpiece of the dream team of MGM's Freed Unit, it is a worthy final MGM musical for Arthur Freed and Vincente Minnelli as well as a touching farewell for Judy Holliday. There is still a blend of grandeur, hallucination, and sensitivity in this picture.

Judy Holliday, one of the greatest comediennes of all times, specialized in portraying dumb blondes with her Mensa level IQ. We don't notice it but here she was already fighting terminal cancer. Holliday's career remained short but it included Born Yesterday, The Marrying Kind, It Should Happen to You, Phffft!, and The Solid Gold Cadillac. Harassed by the Hollywood black list, she re-launched her Broadway career with the hit musical Bells Are Ringing. In the film adaptation her performance as Ella Peterson is very moving. Ella overdoes her duties as the Brooklyn telephone answering service operator, even to the point of correcting data about Beethoven's symphonies, actually codes for illegal bookmaking.

Ella is too good at what she does, and empathizing with her clients and impersonating characters to meet their dreams she is losing herself. The moment of self-revelation takes place in the final movement of the story. "Who is me? I do not know myself who I am". Before that we have witnessed Ella's moments of disappointment, solitude and estrangement especially in the great party scene where Jeff Moss's The Midas Touch is being celebrated and everybody is dropping names on first name basis.

Dean Martin's film career had been revived by Frank Tashlin who directed the final, great Martin & Lewis movies, Howard Hawks (Rio Bravo), and Vincente Minnelli who cast him in Some Came Running. Here Minnelli elicits a good musical comedy performance from Martin, a bit in the same way as Billy Wilder in Kiss Me Stupid. Jeff's is a fight with the easy tempations of hedonism, surrounded by liquor bottles and showgirls.

As a musical Bells Are Ringing no longer achieves the mastery of Meet Me In St. Louis, The Pirate, An American in Paris, and The Band Wagon. When Dean Martin and Judy Holliday dance by the Brooklyn Bridge the production number is painfully vulnerable to comparison with the "Dancing in the Dark" number of Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon. We are far from that level, but Bells Are Ringing still moves me with its graceful, tender, and wistful virtues.

Within its dream logic Bells Are Ringing is a touching love story. Both Ella Peterson and Jeff Moss are fakes, but their encounter inspires something real, something deep inside both of them. "Better Than a Dream" is their mutual key theme song. This is essentially Minnellian: illusion has inspired them, but there is no future in living in an illusion, and true love is "better than a dream".

There are many interesting details in this movie. One of them for me, a Marilyn Monroelogist, is the appearance of Ralph Roberts as the farcical police spy. Perhaps there is a dimension here of spoofing the FBI witch hunt mentality of the era? Ralph Roberts was an actor who also worked as a masseur for Susan Strasberg who introduced him to Marilyn Monroe. Also Judy Holliday was his client. Roberts was one of the true friends and confidants of Monroe to the very end.

The colour is lush, warm, and glowing in this vintage print (might it be a Technicolor print of a Metrocolor film?) with splices here and there yet conveying an authentic sense of the visual world of Vincente Minnelli and Milton Krasner.


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse / The Gleaners and I

The final image: the curator Brigitte Laurençon and her assistant Julie Solli discover Pierre Hédouin's painting Glaneuses à Chambaudoin (1857) at the basement of the museum Paul-Dini de Villefranche-sur-Saône and bring it to the courtyard where a wind picks up and moves the canvas.

Elämä on kaunis / Efterskörd. FR 2000. PC: Ciné-Tamaris. P+D: Agnès Varda. Ass D: Marjolaine Grandjean. Cinematography: Stéphane Krausz, Didier Rouget, Didier Doussin, Pascal Sautelet, Agnès Varda - cameras: Sony DSR-300, Sony DCR-TRV950E - source format: DVCAM, Mini DV - cinematographic process: DV - lab: Laboratoires GTC (Joinville) - release format: 35 mm - colour - 1,33:1. M: Joanna Bruzdowicz, Isabelle Olivier. Theme song: "Rap de récup" by Agnès Bredel, Richard Klugman. S: Emmanuel Soland, Nathalie Vidal. ED: Agnès Varda, Laurent Pineau. With: Agnès Varda, Louis Pons, Bohdan Litnianski, François Wertheimer, Jean Laplanche, Alain, Brigitte Laurençon, Julie Solli. Telecast in Finland: 20.3.2002 (Yle TV2), 29.11.2002 (Yle Teema). 82 min
    (There was a program change as we had received a wrong KDM for Les Plages d'Agnès).
    A 35 mm print with English subtitles by Vinsonnet & Miller viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Agnès Varda / The Best Documentaries of All Time), 5 April 2016.

I saw Agnès Varda's exhilarating masterpiece Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse for the first time. It belongs to the late inspired achievements of radical French film-makers who started in the 1950s and never lost their enthusiasm to create and invent something new and different - Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, and Agnès Varda. Their spirit is forever young.

Yet Varda's movie is on one level a meditation of getting old. It is a movie prefiguring the selfie generation: with the mini DV Varda can easily record herself, and there are candid close-ups of her wrinkled hands, also demonstrating how easy it is to shoot one's own hand with the other hand. But while Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse has a subjective dimension it is also a socio-historical travel film, an investigation, and an essay on the theme announced in the title.

Le glanage / Ährenlesen / Nachlese / gleaning / خوشه چینی is a habit most deeply rooted in France, with an official status since the Middle Ages, but it also goes back to the Bible, to the Torah. Olive trees shall not be beaten multiple times, and what remains should be left for the poor, the strangers, the widows, and the orphans. (There is no established concept like that in Finland. Jean-François Millet's painting Des glaneuses is known here as Tähkänpoimijat which means just gatherers of ears/spikes/cobs. Instead of an institution of glanage in the French sense we have something different, yet with partially the same function: jokamiehenoikeus / freedom to roam, everyman's right, also to fruit, berries, mushrooms, fish, etc. in the nature within a decent distance to someone's home.)

Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse is a social documentary showing how acute and topical the ancient tradition is still today and how it is getting new manifestations in modern society.

We visit wheat fields, oyster beaches, and vineyards. We see how it goes with potatoes, cauliflowers, almonds, figs, and cabbages.

On our way we meet ordinary people and extraordinary ones. Single mothers, alcoholics, gypsies. The marginalized and the have-nots. There are expert dumpster divers (roskisdyykkari in Finnish). There are master chefs and wine connoisseurs. We learn about the codes, the rules, the regulations, the distances, and special legislation on res derelictae, things deliberately abandoned. Lawyers with their thick red code books are met regularly during the movie.

There is a surprise meeting with Jean Laplanche and his wife. Laplanche was a great psychoanalyst; Das Vokabular der Psychoanalyse by Laplanche & Pontalis I always have at hand; it is still the standard work almost 50 years after its publication. In France Laplanche was also a famous winemaker, and in that function we meet him here.

Varda takes us also to the former estate of Étienne-Jules Marey, and there is a digression with samples of the work of the early precursor of the cinema, his moving image series shot with his chronophotographic gun.

The digressions, songs, and wordplays all add up. We learn about the phenomenon from all angles, also from the farmers' and the owners', and from the trashmen also, because they have the big picture of this side of life. This is about rummaging but also about salvaging valuable metal from junk, and recycling, about "les rois de recoup". The most remarkable person in the film is the teacher Alain, a methodical urban gleaner and a teacher of the French language to immigrants. In a non-committed and unorthodox way Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse is a religious film, or at least a film relevant to the core messages of the great religions.

From the start to the end Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse is an essential film about art. The obvious art dimension is about the famous paintings on glanage which we keep finding through the film. In the end one of the most fascinating ones is discovered in cellar storage. But even more importantly the film is a discussion of the art phenomenon of the objet trouvé, trouvailles, invented by Marcel Duchamp a hundred years ago. We meet fantastic artists such as Louis Pons and Sze who create entire worlds from trash or found objects.

All the time Agnès Varda, the glaneuse, identifies with the glaneurs. She "gleans information". Like Marker and Godard she is a master of the compilation, the collage. "I make images from salvaged material".

The low definition of the digital mini video is used here as a means of expression. The transfer to 35 mm photochemical film adds warmth to the image in this poignant, compassionate, witty, and humoristic film which is even more topical today than when it was made.


Saturday, April 02, 2016

Suomen taiteen tarina / Stories of Finnish Art (a new display of the permament collection of Ateneum / Finnish National Gallery)

Alexander Lauréus: Fire in a Farmhouse at Night, 1809. Oil on canvas. 52 x 44. Ateneum Art Museum A I 3. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Janne Mäkinen

Salon hanging at the portrait gallery at the Ateneum exhibition Stories of Finnish Art, 2016. Photo: Jenni Nurminen.

Hugo Simberg: Towards the Evening, 1913. Oil on canvas, 162 x 95. A recent aquisition. Atenem Art Museum A-2015-169. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis.

Greta Hällfors Sipilä, St. John’s Church. (ca 1918). Oil on canvas. 73,5 x 66,5. A-1991-46. Photo: Finnish National Gallery, Hannu Aaltonen. The colour is brighter in the original. It looks better in the catalogue.

Helene Schjerfbeck: Self-Portrait with Red Spot, 1944. Oil on canvas, 45 x 37. Gösta and Bertha Stenman Donation. A IV 3744. The red spot is brighter in the original. Ateneum Art Museum / Finnish National Gallery.

Suomen taiteen tarina / Historier inom finsk konst / Stories of Finnish Art. A new display of the permanent collection of Ateneum / Finnish National Gallery. Opened 18 March 2016. Rooms covering the 1950s and 1960s open in the autumn of 2016.
    A touch screen display of Helene Schjerfbeck’s paper works forms part of the exhibition.
    The exhibition team includes Susanna Pettersson, Museum Director; Timo Huusko, Chief Curator, Collections; Anu Utriainen, Curator; Erkki Anttonen, Special Researcher, Collections; Hanna-Leena Paloposki, Archive and Library Manager; and Riitta Ojanperä, Collections Management Director. The imaginative and memorable exhibition architecture has been created by Marcel Schmalgemeijer from the Netherlands and the spatial graphic design by Mariëlle Tolenaar.

The catalogue:
Suomen taiteen tarina / Historier inom finsk konst / Stories of Finnish Art. Three editions: Finnish, Swedish and English. Editor: Susanna Pettersson.
    Articles by Susanna Pettersson, Anu Utriainen, Juha Itkonen, Erkki Anttonen, Riitta Ojanperä, Timo Huusko, Hanna-Leena Paloposki, and Maritta Mellais.
    Short stories by Riikka Ala-Harja, Juha Itkonen, Heidi Köngäs, Sirpa Kähkönen, and Matti Rönkä.
    264 p., fully illustrated, translated by Lola Rogers and Wif Stenger. Published by Ateneum Art Museum (Helsinki) and Hatje Cantz Verlag (Ostfildern, Germany). Printed in Wernding, Firmengruppe APPL, aprinta druck, 2016.

From the official introduction: "The exhibition presents well-loved classics alongside seldom exhibited works of art – it is an exhibition of classics with a twist. The exhibition is a celebration of Ateneum’s collections: it draws new parallels and highlights works that have not been on show for a long time. The extensive collection of archive materials is also given new prominence. At the same time, the story of Finnish art is juxtaposed with the international development in art and contemporary social events."

"In the main exhibition space, Eero Järnefelt’s Burning the Brushwood (1893) meets Edvard Munch’s Bathing Men (1907–1908) and Anders Zorn’s Girls Bathing in the Open Air (1890) and Ilya Repin’s Portrait of Natalia Nordmann (1900), both masterpieces that have long remained out of sight of audiences. Part of the exhibition is a tightly packed salon-style hanging, similar to the one used in Ateneum a hundred years ago."

"Featuring 322 works, this first phase of the exhibition now opening illustrates the development of art in Finland from 1809 until the 1940s. The rooms covering the 1950s and 1960s will open in the summer of 2016."

AA: The exhibition of a permanent collection of a national gallery is always useful as a crash course into a nation's art. Visiting such an exhibition is a good standard number for a foreign visitor, and it should be an exciting initiation to art for children and students.

The new Ateneum display fulfills these expectations admirably. The Fighting Capercaillies by Ferdinand von Wright, Under the Yoke (Burning the Brushwood) by Eero Järnefelt, Kullervo's Curse by Axel Gallen-Kallela, A Child's Funeral in the Archipelago by Albert Edelfelt, The Wounded Angel by Hugo Simberg, St. John's Church by Greta Hällfors-Sipilä, and self-portraits by Helene Schjerfbeck are all here. Works like these are essential reference points in Finnish visual culture.

But many of the works on display are unusual and different from received traditions of the permanent collections.

I started my visit from the portrait gallery which is itself a revelation and reminder of an original mission of the Ateneum Art Museum purposefully to collect an official national portrait gallery. There are many self-portraits by artists here, as well as portraits by fellow artists.

The other revelation is the salon hanging which means that many walls are packed with paintings. They are tightly hung next to each other, and there are two or three paintings on top of each other.

The impact of salon hanging is of abundance, and there is also a collage effect as inevitably one starts to see connections between the paintings: sometimes affinities, sometimes contrasts, and anything in between.

The main current here is the development of Finnish art from 1809 until the 1940s, but there are also selections of the international collections, including soul brothers from neighbouring countries such as Ilya Repin from Russia, Anders Zorn from Sweden and Edvard Munch from Norway. Also treasures from van Gogh, Gauguin, Rodin, Matisse, Cézanne, Modigliani, Léger, and Le Corbusier are on display. The main influence for Finnish art has always been Paris, prominently in evidence here.

The catalogue is worth reading from cover to cover. Not all the exhibited artworks are among the illustrations, and not all the pictures in the book are to be seen in the exhibition. The book is a good concise introduction into Finnish art and the history of Ateneum which in the beginning also included spaces for The Finnish Society of Crafts and Design (1875, nowadays Design Forum Finland), and the art school (1848, now the Academy of Fine Arts). A special feature of the book is the five short stories commissioned for it. For example Sirpa Kähkönen's fictional monologue for Helene Schjerfbeck is worth reading.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Mielen tila

Vanhan Vaasan sairaala / The Old Vasa Hospital. Architect: Carl Ludvig Engel, 1844.

State of Mind / In the Depths of the Mind.
    FI 2007. PC: Jaakko Ilkka Productions Ltd. In co-operation with Yle TV2 Dokumenttiprojekti. P: Jaakko Ilkka Virtanen. Co-P: Iikka Vehkalahti, Timo Korhonen.
    D+SC: Tuija Halttunen. DP: Marita Hällfors. S: Janne Tiikkainen (recording), Jukka Nurmela (design). ED: Seppo Vakkuri.
    On-line editing, colour grading: Nipa Roine, Yle TV2. Graphics: Kirsi Vähäsöyrinki, Yle TV2. Technical support: Petri Levonen. Translation: Satu Virtanen.
    M: Jean Sibelius: Barcarola, op. 24 No. 10. "Sibelius, Works for Piano", Ondine 1995, perf. Ralf Gothoni.
    Telecast: 18.3.2008, 2.12.2008 YLE TV2 Dokumenttiprojekti. VET A-51323 – S – 82 min
    Featuring: Matti, Anne, Harri. Ylilääkäri / Senior Physician Markku Eronen.
    With: psychologist Ghitta Weizmann-Henelius, social worker Marja Gullman, nurse Marita Kalliokoski, physiatrist Päivi Toivonen, Anne-Maria Kallio-Eerikäinen, Osmo Pulli, Irmeli Dahlblom, Tarja-Liisa Luukkanen, Sanna Ravi, Vanha Vaasa hospital staff and patients.
    Loc: Vanhan Vaasan sairaala (VVS) / Gamla Vasa sjukhus / Vanha Vaasa Hospital
    Introduced by a lecture by Ulla Simonen on documentary film production.
    KAVI dvd (a dvd was screened due to machine trouble with the digital Betacam) of the English version In the Depths of the Mind screened at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Finnish Film Production: Documentary Film Production), 1 April 2016

From the Vanha Vaasa Hospital homepage: "Vanha Vaasa Hospital is one of the two state mental hospitals in Finland. It falls within the authority of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and provides special forensic psychiatric services for the whole country. The hospital has facilities for 152 patients."

"The patients in Vanha Vaasa hospital are in involuntary care. They either have been found not guilty by reason of insanity (see criminal responsibility) or are too dangerous or difficult to treat in other hospitals. The patients stay in the hospital usually for several years. In addition to psychiatric treatment, annually approximately 30 forensic psychiatric evaluations are given in Vanha Vaasa hospital.

AA: A documentary reconstruction of three medical and psychiatric evaluations to establish non compos mentis. Shot on location at the specialized mental hospital for criminal psychiatry of Finland, the Vanha Vaasa Hospital, with three criminal patients reconstructing their own testimonies. Real experts such as Dr. Markku Eronen appear as themselves.

A documentary feature relevant for criminology, jurisprudence, and psychiatry, documenting the careful process of establishing criminal responsibility in cases of insanity.

Matti has heard voices and committed thirty crimes. He is diagnozed with paranoid schizophrenia. He tells about his hallucinations about communication and intercourse with space flies.

Anne has stabbed her boyfriend with a knife. She has had paranoid thoughts. She realizes that her hallucinations are reflections of her psychoses. She has found help in religion.

Harri has committed a number of violent crimes. He has been a multi-user of drugs. He is diagnozed with serious mental illness. He plays the piano.

These are poignant stories of marginalization. They are are also stories about growing up to an ability to assume responsibility of one's actions. The victims' point of view is deliberately omitted.

We witness medical examinations including blood tests, magnet resonance imaging (MRI), and electroencephalography (EEG). They do not help much. Repeated personal interviews yield more.

These stories could be sensational. Tuija Halttunen reconstructs them in a matter-of-fact way, avoiding emphasis and dramatization. This cool, laconic, and sober approach, however, is not callous or indifferent. It is the approach of a good doctor or a good lawyer. It is the approach of justice and healing. Even from this darkest fate there can be a way out.

Good and valuable films sometimes fall through the cracks and do not find the reception they deserve.

Ulla Simonen had selected Mielen tila to be screened after her lecture because it deserves a revival.

An extraordinary film to be recommended as study material in faculties of law, medicine, and psychiatry everywhere. A daring film for all involved.