Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Ladies' Man

The Ladies' Man: the doll house set. The biggest set and the biggest camera crane in Hollywood. Please do click to enlarge the image.

The Ladies' Man: where the shadows run from themselves. In the forbidden room, the White Room, Jerry Lewis meets Miss Cartilage (Sylvia Lewis, no relation). There is an Irma Vep affinity in the Musidora-like performance. She is introduced as a Batwoman hanging from the ceiling upside down. One of the last film roles of the classically trained virtuoso dancer.

The Ladies Man / Jerry naisten miehenä / Jerry naistenmiehenä / Jerry Lewis naisten miehenä / Huller om buller
    US © 1961 Jerry Lewis Productions. PC: Jerry Lewis Productions / York Pictures Corporation. Distributor: Paramount Pictures. P: Jerry Lewis. D: Jerry Lewis. SC: Jerry Lewis, Bill Richmond. DP: W. Wallace Kelley – Technicolor – 1,85:1. Crane operator: Carl Manoogian. AD: Ross Bellah, Hal Pereira. Set dec: Sam Comer, James W. Payne. VFX: John P. Fulton. Cost: Edith Head. Wardrobe for Jerry Lewis: Sy Devore, Nat Wise. Makeup: Wally Westmore. Hair: Nellie Manley. M: Walter Scharf. Songs: “Don’t Go To Paris” and “Ladies’ Man” lyr. Jack Brooks, comp. Harry Warren. “Bang Tail” (Harry James). Choreography: Bobby Van. S: Bill Wistrom – mono (Westrex Recording System). ED: Stanley E. Johnson.
    C: Jerry Lewis (Herbert H. Heebert / Mama Heebert), Helen Traubel (Helen N. Welenmelon), Pat Stanley (Fay), Kathleen Freeman (Katie), George Raft (himself), Harry James and His Orchestra, Marty Ingels (himself), Buddy Lester (Willard C. Gainsborough), Gloria Jean (Gloria), Hope Holiday (Miss Anxious), Jack Kruschen (Graduation Emcee Professor), Lillian Briggs (Lillian), Doodles Weaver (soundman), Sylvia Lewis (Miss Cartilage), Dee Arlen (Miss Liar), Francesca Bellini (dancer), Vicki Benet (Frenchie), Mary LaRoche (Miss Society), Ann McCrea (Miss Sexy Pot), Madlyn Rhue (Miss Intellect), Caroline Richter (Miss Southern Accent), Lynn Ross (Miss Vitality), Beverly Wills (Miss Hypochondriac), Westbrook Van Voorhis (himself, Person to Person).
    Studio: Paramount Studios, 5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood.
    Premiere: 28.6.1961.
    Helsinki premiere: 30.3.1962 Aloha, distributor: Oy Cinema International Corporation Ab – tv: 19.10.1971 Yle TV1, 1.11.1983 MTV2, 15.8.1988 TV3, 8.7.1998 MTV3, 2.7.2006 ja 3.1.2008 Yle Teema – dvd: 2006 Paramount Home Entertainment Finland – VET 60114 – S – 2650 m / 97 min (VET, IMDb), 106 min (AFI, Wikipedia).
    A vintage Technicolor print with Swedish subtitles screened at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Jerry Lewis in memoriam), 31 March 2018

Jerry Lewis is at his best in The Ladies' Man, his second film as a director, famous for its dollhouse set, the biggest in Hollywood, and the use of the world's biggest camera crane to catch the complex choreography of movement from room to room and floor to floor in smooth long takes (see the image above).

There is an affinity with the Greenwich Village set of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, also produced at Paramount Studios. Victoria Duckett reminded me of early cinema affinities going back to Georges Méliès (films such as Les Affiches en goguette, 1906).

The Bellboy, Lewis's debut film as a director, had been dedicated to his friend and advisor Stan Laurel. Also in The Ladies' Man the bond with classic silent comedy pantomime is evident.

But The Ladies' Man is also a work of modernism, modernist comedy, with an affinity with Jacques Tati's Playtime which had its premiere five years later.  Conscious homage to The Ladies' Man was paid by Jean-Luc Godard in Tout va bien (1972). Federico Fellini's La città delle donne comes to mind, too. Even Francis Ford Coppola was influenced by Lewis in One from the Heart (1982).

The total stylization, the assured choreography, and the "artificial paradise" approach to scenography are reminiscent of the musical genre. Jerry Lewis creates a magical, oneiric, and hallucinatory vision with surreal touches (butterflies coming alive, bleeding lipstick on the portrait towering over the hall, the mysterious White Room).

It is a character comedy, full of women, but entirely dominated by the Jerry Lewis character Herbert H. Heebert. The comic character is beyond realistic psychology, an abstracted and stylized clown like Lewis's models including Harpo Marx, Stan Laurel, and early Charles Chaplin.

His is a bold and startling comic persona, neurotic and hysterical, even stark raving mad. He is literally infantile, jumping into Kathleen Freeman's lap as he enters the dollhouse, spoon-fed in a baby chair during his first breakfast there.

At the same time he is juvenile and adolescent, exaggerating the clumsiness and bad coordination of a young person growing up too fast.

In his agility and extraordinary skill in running, jumping and hanging from the ceiling he is like a monkey.

Herbert is retarded, narcissist, and solipsist, but he is not a tyrant running rampant in his harem. Instead he is a panicked and humble servant to the girls mothered by Katie (Kathleen Freeman) and Mrs. Welenmelon (Helen Traubel). No equal and mature relationship with a female of his own age is thinkable, but there are moments of tenderness and friendship with the inhabitants of the dormitory of aspiring young female actresses and artists.

In many ways I am reminded of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) released the year before, most importantly by the mother fixation. In moments of crisis Herbert keeps crying "Maaa!".

In my Jerry Lewis obituary I called him the comedian of the age of extremes. His debut as a child entertainer started with a performance of "Brother, Can You Spare Me a Dime" during the Great Depression. He embodied the existential horror of the nuclear age, Holocaust, and the Cold War. He was also the comedian of the Age of Affluence, the economic miracle, the consumer society, and the youth culture.

At his best, in films such as The Ladies' Man, Lewis also tapped into something timeless, going back to the genesis of drama and comedy, something that the classics of antiquity would have recognized and appreciated.

From the opening stills in the Look parody credit title sequence Lewis caricatures not only the self in the modern world but the human condition itself. We laugh at the very acts of walking, talking, looking, and making faces.

The plot is the flimsiest of token narratives, a hanger for a string of gags. Some of the most memorable ones are almost abstract, detached views such as a scene near the beginning where Herbert concentrates to think whether he'll stay. It's a funny parody on the act of thought.

Lewis is also one of the masters of the slow burn and the double take. Perhaps he had learned a thing or two from his friend Stan Laurel. There is a magisterial delayed reaction study in the sound check sequence where Lewis registers to the overwhelming volume in his headset.

Aristotle remarked that the human is the most mimetic animal, and Jerry Lewis makes comedy about mimesis itself. Which all children are able to do. A talent which great artists know how to preserve.

There is even a level of existential comedy. A metaphysical laughter at being itself.

Bright and authentic Technicolor in the vintage print with signs of wear in the heads and tails of reels. Some sources (AFI, Wikipedia) give the duration as 106 minutes. This print ran 95 minutes, and the continuity was smooth with minor joins, so perhaps there are two different edits of this gag-driven movie.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Prästen i Uddarbo / The Minister of Uddarbo

Prästen i Uddarbo / The Minister of Uddarbo. The naivist comic strip by Rune Lindström provides a beautiful résumé of the movie. Please do click to enlarge!

Prästen i Uddarbo / The Minister of Uddarbo. Hanna (Ann-Marie Gyllenspetz) is welcomed by Gustaf (Max von Sydow) to his little parish.

Uddarbon pappi
    SE 1957. PC: Svenska AB Nordisk Tonefilm. P manager: Gösta Hammarbäck (produktionsledare). D: Kenne Fant. SC: Rune Lindström, Kenne Fant – based on the novel (1953) by Axel Hambræus  – translated into Finnish (Margareta Lehtonen / WSOY, 1955) as Uddarbon pappi: laulu ystävästä. DP: Max Wilén. AD: Bibi Lindström. Makeup: Eric Whiten. M: Ingvar Wieslander, Sven Sköld. Songs: ”Shall We Gather At The River” (Robert Lowry 1864). ”Välsignat är det hem förvisst” (Christoph Carl Ludwig von Pfeil 1746). S: Nils Skeppstedt. ED: Carl-Olov Skeppstedt. [Advisor: Ingmar Bergman, n.c.].
    C: Max von Sydow (Gustaf Ömark), Ann-Marie Gyllenspetz (Hanna, Teodor's niece), Anders Henrikson (Teodor, vicar of Allerö), Holger Löwenadler (director Alsing), Georg Rydeberg (docent Naaman), Erik Strandmark (Ris Erik Eriksson, chairman of the school council and the municipal government), Tord Stål (bishop of Västerås), Olof Thunberg (sexton Per Halvarsson), Maud Elfsiö (Inger), Björn Berglund (chairman of the free church district), Georg Adelly (shop clerk), Gudrun Brost (Albertina, known as Gäs-Fröken).
    Loc: Bäsna-Sifferbo ferry port (Gagnef), Stockholm archipelago, Uppsala, Västerås Cathedral.
    Helsinki premiere: 24.4.1959 Adlon, distributor: Allotria Filmi Oy – telecast in Finland: 9.2.1970 Yle TV2 – VET 50158 – S – 2515 m / 92 min
    A vintage KAVI print deposited by Allotria Filmi with Finnish subtitles by Eila Seppänen screened at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Ingmar Bergman 100), (Films for Easter), Ascension Day, Thursday 28 March 2018

The Minister of Uddarbo, the novel written by the Swedish priest Axel Hambræus, has been compared with both Giovanni Guareschi's Don Camillo and Georges Bernanos's Journal d'un curé de campagne, all portraits of country priests, all memorably filmed.

I read the novel while I was in the army in 1973 and had long been looking forward to see this film. Watching it I was also thinking about the account of Vincent van Gogh's early years as a preacher in Vincente Minnelli's film adaptation of Lust for Life (1956) made the year before. The passion of his calling, his unconditional identification with the poor and downtrodded and the abyss separating him from pharisean directors and doctors are identical.

The Minister of Uddarbo also belongs to a major Swedish tradition of rural films which had been launched on a high artistic level by Victor Sjöström and his colleagues in the 1910s. In the 1950s it was still possible to catch an authentic feeling of the traditional flow of life on the countryside. Last month we screened Ivar Johansson's engrossing Livet i Finnskogarna / Life in the Finn Woods (1947) starring none other than Kenne Fant, the director of The Minister of Uddarbo. Some of the rural films of the 1950s were already slipping into pastiche but The Minister of Uddarbo is full of conviction and vitality.

We included the film in our Ingmar Bergman centenary tribute because Bergman served as an advisor and because the leading role was played by Max von Sydow in 1957, a golden year for both Bergman and von Sydow. The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries had their premieres, as well as the most magnificent theatre production in Swedish theatrical history, Peer Gynt at Malmö City Theatre, directed by Bergman and starring von Sydow. It is a beautiful aspect in Bergman's life that he was always happy to advise and support others generously, even during this, his busiest year.

As Gustaf Ömark, the minister of Uddarbo, von Sydow gives a sterling performance, no less powerful than his roles for Bergman. We meet him as an awkward stranger, a tongue-tied man in love, a passionate and charismatic (but not fanatical) preacher, a dock worker, a teacher with a way with children, a loving husband, and a good shepherd of his congregation. We also see him disappointed, tormented by agony and experiencing a loss of faith. We see him lose his mental balance and ending up in a mental hospital. We see him face death and birth. We see him coming to terms with his own mortal illness. There is an aura of holy madness in him, and at the same time he is an ordinary guy with no time for empty rhetoric. His faith in the gospel is genuine and internal. He believes in the miracle of faith: a person can be transformed by opening up to the spiritual sources inside.

He has an original approach to the Scripture. His first sermon is about the five loaves and the two fish. For him what is meant is spiritual nourishment: when that is achieved there will be enough for everybody.

In his school class he takes children to plant flowers and trees in the school garden. Then he proceeds to the Parable of the Sower. Some seed falls on rocky ground, but when it falls on good soil it yields a hundredfold. [Let's also remember The Sower by Vincent van Gogh].

He makes the Word come alive. Max von Sydow's is a major performance among depictions of Christ's followers in the cinema.

By the example of his conviction Gustaf engages the inhabitants of the poor village into communal work [bee / talkoot / talko / talgud / tолока / tłoka: there is a distinctive tradition in Nordic and Baltic countries, and Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus. Together it is possible to achieve miracles]. First they build a bridge over a mighty river. Then they build a church in the village which is missing in many necessities. It is an act of faith.

Bengt Idestam-Almqvist, a major Swedish film critic and historian, was positively surprised by the achievement of The Minister of Uddarbo: the warmth, the sense of humour, the devotion of Max von Sydow, and the achievement of the director Kenne Fant without a false note. Idestam-Almqvist found the film both serious and humoristic, big fun and deeply gripping. He found the entire ensemble fully committed to this engaging picture.

I agree. I also like Max Wilén's cinematography, his beautiful composition in depth. (He had shot Strindberg's Hemsöborna, among others, and he would shoot Brink of Life for Bergman. And The Language of Love later, in hard, clinical light, like Brink of Life. But his pastoral sense here is engaging.) And the score by Ingvar Wieslander and Sven Sköld. In the ensemble also the children are genuine, as is the orphan teenage girl (played by Maud Elfsiö) whom Gustaf rescues from becoming a plaything for lumberjacks. Gustaf's love affair and marriage with Hanna (Ann-Marie Gyllenspetz) is conveyed with beautiful conviction.

The scale of grandeur is not the same, but there is an affinity with Andrei Rublev in the final section of the film about building the church and installing a church bell. In his last moments Gustaf hears the sound of the bell. "Hör du?" – "Can you hear?" are his last words.

The Minister of Uddarbo was a traditional film in a period when major masterpieces dealed with modern secularization and the loss of faith. Luis Buñuel's Nazarín was released in 1959. Soon after Bergman would make Winter Light / Nattvardsgästerna which we are also screening this week. The Minister of Uddarbo shows the building of a rural church. Winter Light shows the church becoming empty. Max von Sydow appears in both: in Winter Light he plays the role of the fisherman Jonas agonized by the horror of nuclear holocaust and committing suicide in a world abandoned by God.

If I had to illustrate Nordic Protestantism to a foreigner, The Minister of Uddarbo would be a good alternative: plain and uncluttered, focusing on the force of the spirit, and a sense of love, caring, and community. It is about the roots of the Nordic welfare society in which nobody is abandoned. It is about the secret why Nordic countries tend to rate well in polls of happiness.

The vintage print still radiates with magic and robust health, having been struck directly from the original negative. No matter that there are joins and scratches at the heads and tails of reels.


Friday, March 09, 2018

Tampere Film Festival: National Competition 9

Ulla Heikkilä: #sovitus / #barewithme.

Eng/Fin | 88 min
In the presence of Anna Brotkin, Marja Helander, Erika Weiste, and Perttu Saksa.
Tampere Film Festival (TFF), National Competition 9, Plevna 2, Friday 9 March 2018

Ulla Heikkilä | Finland 2017 | Fiction | 10 min
SC: Anna Brotkin.
C: Ella Lahdenmäki, Karoliina Niskanen, Sonja Kuittinen, Niina Koponen
    TFF: "#barewithme is a comedy about female empowerment and friendships that stay with you forever. MADDE, 30, is out shopping with her best friends AURA and JULIA, when she suddenly sees a dark figure from the past: her ex-bff ELSI. Traumatized and panicked, Madde tries to hide. However, her friends won’t let her, and she is forced to make peace with her past. It’s Elsi’s turn to listen."
    "#sovitus on komedia naisten voimaantumisesta ja ystävyydestä, joka säilyy läpi elämän. 30-vuotias Madde on ostoksilla parhaiden ystäviensä Auran ja Julian kanssa, kun hän yhtäkkiä näkee tumman hahmon menneisyydestään: entisen parhaan ystävänsä Elsin. Traumatisoituneena ja paniikissa Madde yrittää piiloutua. Hänen ystävänsä kuitenkin estävät sen, ja Madden on pakko kohdata menneisyytensä. On Elsin vuoro kuunnella."

AA: A humoristic account of a belated coming to terms with an ex "best friend forever" who abandoned the protagonist (now 30-something) and left an eternal trauma. There was even a bff tattoo with two cherries which only Madde managed to acquire. Witty dialogue and a good sense of comic timing in the direction and the performances. The soundtrack selections include: Death Team: "Fucking Bitches in the Hood".

Jouni West: Guolli.

Jouni West | Finland 2017 | Animation | 5 min
    TFF: "Brothers are fishing for the first grayling of their lives at Deatnu-river. Little brother is puzzled what to do with the fish and tries to kill the fish by imitating his father."
    "Veljekset kalastavat elämänsä ensimmäistä harjusta Tenojoesta. Pikkuveli ei tiedä, mitä kalan kanssa pitäisi tehdä, ja yrittää tappaa sen matkimalla isäänsä."

AA: Animation performed in a reduced, stylized way, bringing to mind associations of croquis drawings, Japanese watercolours, and cave paintings. An associative vision of learning to catch fish and protecting the catch from hungry seagulls.

Marja Helander: Eatnanvulos lottit – maan sisällä linnut.

Marja Helander | Finland, Norway 2018 | Experimental, fiction | 11 min
    TFF: "Sami dance students Birit and Katja Haarla dance through the villages and lost woods of Sápmi all the way to where the important decisions are made. The polarity of Nature and the Western way of life is filtered through sharp humour."
    "Saamelaiset tanssinopiskelijat Birit ja Katja Haarla tanssivat halki Saamenmaan kylien ja menetettyjen metsien aina sinne, missä suuret päätökset tehdään. Luonnon ja länsimaisen elämäntavan vastakohtaisuus suodattuu kirpeän huumorin läpi."

AA: A shaman dance to protect the indigenous Sami people. Marja Helander told us that the genesis of the film was the dance of the dying swan on the steps of the Finnish House of Parliament. The film was a year in the making, and it is a statement on the Teno agreement fatal for the Sami people. Two Sami students of the Finnish Ballet School dance, alternating Sami gear and classic ballet wear in the snow and in the sun, from the marshes of Lapland to the concrete jungle of Helsinki.

Jonna Kina: Arr. for a Scene.

Jonna Kina | Finland, France 2017 | Experimental, Documentary | 6 min
    TFF: "Arr. for a Scene is a documentary of two foley artists while they are producing sounds for one of the most famous film scene in the film history (the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, 1960). This performance is documented on 35 mm film. The original film scene will remain invisible while the viewer sees only the foley artists creating sound effects for the scene, such as footsteps, shower and door closing. During the performance, the foley artists are looking straight at the camera. The film inverts the position of the screen and the gaze of the viewer. The viewer becomes part of the scene. The film examines the way sounds are constructed for the use of cinema and what happens when the structures of a film are dismantled into parts."
    "Kohtauksen järjestelyt on dokumentti kahdesta äänitaiteilijasta, jotka tuottavat ääniä yhteen kuuluisimmista elokuvakatkelmista – suihkukohtaukseen Alfred Hitchcockin Psykossa (1960). Toiminta on tallennettu 35-milliselle filmille. Alkuperäinen kohtaus pysyy piilossa, ja katsoja näkee vain äänitaiteilijat luomassa kohtauksen äänitehosteita, kuten askelia, suihkun kohinaa ja sulkeutuvan oven. Esityksen aikana taiteilijat katsovat suoraan kameraan. Elokuva kääntää valkokankaan ja katsojan katseen nurinperin, ja katsojasta tulee osa kohtausta. Dokumentti tarkastelee sitä, miten elokuvan tarpeisiin luodaan ääniä ja mitä tapahtuu, kun elokuva puretaan osiinsa."

AA: The action consists solely of an American shot of two foley masters (see image above) whom we soon enough realize are performing the foley in real time for the shower scene of Psycho. A fascinating perspective on one of the most famous sequences in film history.

Reetta Neittaanmäki, Erika Weiste: Muistikuvia / Reminiscences.

Reetta Neittaanmäki, Erika Weiste | Finland 2017 | Animation, Documentary | 13 min
    TFF: "The animation documentary examines memory processes via the recollections of four interviewees. What are the memories that linger and what kinds of memories are revived, when a person is requested to tell their life story freely, without being directed towards any subjects or themes?"
    "Animaatiodokumentti tarkastelee muistiprosesseja neljän haastateltavan muistojen avulla. Mitkä muistot jäävät mieleen ja mitkä heräävät henkiin, kun henkilöä pyydetään kertomaan omin sanoin elämäntarinansa, ilman että kukaan johdattelee häntä kohti jotain tiettyä aihetta tai teemaa?"

AA: This film started as a memory project in a rest home with four residents with memory illnesses. Concrete objects bring memories back to life. Old books, herbaria, braids, et cetera are examined via object animation and mixed animation methods. Life stories emerge including a lifetime of work as a restaurant waiter. We are made to empathize with ways and circumstances of life that now seem alien to us.

Juho Kuosmanen: Salaviinanpolttajat / The Moonshiners (2017). Juha Hurme and Jaana Paananen.

Juho Kuosmanen | Finland 2017 | Fiction | 15 min
M: Ykspihlajan Kino-Orkesteri.
C: Jaana Paananen, Juha Hurme, Tomi Alatalo, Jarkko Lahti, Aku-Petteri Pahkamäki.
    TFF: "A remake of the first Finnish film ever, in which siblings inherit all the essentials for a good life: moonshine equipment and a pig."
    "Kuvitelma Suomen ensimmäisestä fiktioelokuvasta. Elokuvassa kaksipontikankeittäjää saavat isältään perinnöksi hyvän elämän eväät: pontikkakärryt ja sian."

AA: Based on the synopsis of the first Finnish fiction film, Salaviinanpolttajat / The Moonshiners (1907, lost), Juho Kuosmanen has made a film in his own style, an affable farce with a lively score by Ykspihlajan Kino-Orkesteri. The film is fun to watch in its own right.
    Several The Moonshiners adaptations have been over the decades in the context of anniversaries of Finnish fiction film history.
    I hope there will be others, and one of them could be for a change an attempt to do it the way they did it at the time. We have a lot of material to work upon. We know the original artists, and it is easy to picture how it could have looked.
    Pathé Frères was the big company back then, and Pathé had a block booking agreement in Finland. We saw their productions in extenso virtually in real time. We could have a look at the most popular contemporary comedy series from Max Linder to André Deed and see how they did it. We could check the work of Teuvo Puro, Frans Engström, Oscar Lindelöf, and Karl Fager in the theatre and at the cinema. This was the period of early cinema with long shots, long takes, and deep focus. No close-ups, no camera movement, and minimal montage. Prints were struck from the negative and would have looked brilliant since Frans Engström and Oscar Lindelöf were the cinematographers. We know their contemporary non-fiction films, and they look great. The performances may have been exaggerated but they may also have been in eloquent theatrical pantomime in regular farce style. There is a sense of fun in the original accounts of the film. That should be conveyed as Juho Kuosmanen does.

Perttu Saksa: Eläimen kuva / Animal Image.

Perttu Saksa | Finland 2018 | Experimental, Documentary | 30 minInspired by the b&w nature photographs by Heikki Willamo.
M: improvised by Verneri Pohjola (trumpet) and Mika Kallio (drums)
    TFF: "Animal Image is a poetic documentary about the infinite relationship between man and animal. In the film, animals are portrayed independent from man made narratives, exposed to life and the presence of time without anthropomorphic view."
    "Eläimen kuva on poeettinen dokumentti ihmisen ja eläimen välisestä rajattomasta yhteydestä. Elokuvassa eläimiä ei käsitellä ihmisen muokkaamien kertomusten kautta eikä niiden elämää ja olevaisuutta ajassa tarkastella ihmisen näkökulmasta."

AA: The debut film of photographer Perttu Saksa, inspired by the books and photographs by Heikki Willamo. Impressive shots of seagulls flying against the wind, a family of foxes, a bear emerging silently like a ghost from the forest, a wolverine, and owls. The film grows into an essay on our relationship with nature. We examine ancient rock paintings, meditate them as a way to communicate with the spirits. They are two-way mirrors to the beyond and to ourselves. Perttu Saksa conveys a powerful and original nature experience.


Tampere Film Festival: National Competition 10

Timo Wright: Ex Nihilo.

Eng/Fin | 88 min
In the presence of Katri Onnela, Christina Lassheikki, Sami van Ingen, Mika Taanila, Khadar Ahmed, Leena Jääskeläinen, and Hannu-Pekka Peltomaa.
Tampere Film Festival (TFF), National Competition 10, Plevna 2, Friday 9 March 2018

Timo Wright | Finland, South Korea 2018 | Experimental, Documentary | 9 min
    TFF: "Ex Nihilo is an experimental short documentary about life, death and our attempts to control them. It tells the stories of an advanced humanoid robot, a cryonics facility, where the brains of deceased people are held and of a international seed vault, where crop seed from around the world are held frozen."
    "Ex Nihilo on kokeellinen dokumenttielokuva elämästä, kuolemasta ja tavoitteistamme kontrolloida niitä. Elokuva kertoo erittäin kehittyneestä robotista, kryoniikkalaitoksesta, jossa kuolleiden aivoja säilytetään jäädytettyinä, sekä siemenpankista, jonne on säilötty ruokakasvien siemeniä ympäri maailmaa."

AA: A chilling black and white futuristic documentary vision intercutting three storylines: the amazing HUBO robot, the Oregon Cryonics preserving human brains (see image above), and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The brave new world does not look inviting. Katri Onnela's portentous score brings it into an amusingly satirical perspective.

Riku Savikko, Pauliina Parjanen, Jade Woods, Vilma Väisänen, Jenni Nylander, Christina Lassheikki: Bring Your Child to Work.

Riku Savikko, Pauliina Parjanen, Jade Woods, Vilma Väisänen, Jenni Nylander, Christina Lassheikki | Finland 2017 | Animation | 8 min
    TFF: "A child comes home from school with a message to their parents about the Bring Your Child to Work -day. After a long wait with their dog, the parent finally arrives home – and takes the child to a rather different workplace."
    "Lapsi tulee koulusta kotiin mukanaan viesti vanhemmille, jossa kehotetaan ottamaan lapsi mukaan töihin. Lapsi odottaa koiran kanssa, kunnes hänen vanhempansa vihdoin saapuu ja vie hänet tutustumaan jokseenkin erilaiseen työpaikkaan."

AA: A rich array of animation techniques is in use in this dark fairy-tale which starts as a photorealistic puppet animation and proceeds as a journey towads the river of death. From daytime reality there is a passage into another world. The hall of light is awesome.

Sami van Ingen: Polte. Damaged frame from Teuvo Tulio's Nuorena nukkunut (1937) starring Regina Linnanheimo as Silja.

Sami van Ingen | Finland 2018 | Experimental, Fiction | 15 min
    TFF: "A fractured melodrama, based on damaged frames from the lost feature film Silja – Fallen Asleep When Young (1937) directed by Teuvo Tulio."
    "Sirpaleinen melodraama, joka pohjautuu vaurioituneeseen filmimateriaaliin Teuvo Tulion ohjaamasta elokuvasta Nuorena nukkunut (1937)."

AA: Sami van Ingen revealed that he did not do much anything to the image of the badly decayed surviving footage of Teuvo Tulio's Nuorena nukkunut / Silja (1937), a legendary lost film, fragments of which were repatriated in 2015 to KAVI by La Cinémathèque française. Van Ingen just slowed the images down 10-15 times until the tempo seemed just right. The ravages of time, the fragility of existence, the fading beauty, and the conflagration of cultural heritage become themes in van Ingen's film. The flame in Regina Linnanheimo's eyes ("silmissä noissa synti on syvä" / "in the eyes of hers / the sin is deep") is no less burning in this battleground of a lost film. Associations runs from Lascaux cave paintings to cosmic visions of the night sky. The cinematography of Erik Blomberg can still be appreciated in these ruins.

Petra Koponen: Apila.

Petra Koponen | Finland 2017 | Documentary | 11 min
    TFF: "After a childhood spent tightly together with a twin sister, Apila began to question their gender identity. The strong feminine example set by the twins’ older sister conflicted with Apila’s experience of gender. Today the 25 year old identifies as gender queer and addresses transgender people’s rights through her comic art. Creating art is also a way for Apila to explore their gender identity. At times Apila has experienced strong body dysphoria but has learned to love their body and to accept that one might never achieve their ideals."
    "Kaksoissiskon kanssa tiiviisti yhdessä vietetyn lapsuuden jälkeen Apila alkoi kyseenalaistamaan sukupuoli-identiteettiään. Kaksosten vanhemmalta siskolta tullut vahva feminiininen esikuva oli ristiriidassa oman sukupuolikokemuksen kanssa. Nykyään muunsukupuoliseksi identifioituva 25-vuotias Apila ottaa kantaa trans-ihmisten oikeuksiin sarjakuvataiteensa kautta. Taide on hänelle myös tapa purkaa ja käsitellä sukupuoli-identiteettiään. Voimakastakin kehodysforiaa kokenut Apila on oppinut rakastamaan omaa kehoaan, sekä hyväksymään sen, että omaa ideaalia ei ehkä koskaan pysty saavuttamaan."

AA: The twins no longer can tell each other apart in childhood photographs. Apila since then has questioned her gender identity, and we learn about gender dysphoria. (Dysphoria is the opposite of euphoria). Drawing body contures on a computer screen is a recurrent visual motif, as well as Apila creating her comic strip Moss Dass. The body is a project.

Mika Taanila | Finland 2017 | Experimental, Documentary | 7 min
    TFF: "The Man Who Fell to Earth (dir. Nicolas Roeg 1976) evacuated and flipped. In abandoned landscapes, animals, furniture and empty vehicles are left awaiting for disaster. ”We must have died alone, a long long time ago.” (D.B.)"
    "Mies toisesta maailmasta (ohj. Nicolas Roeg, 1976) evakuoituna ja ylösalaisin. Autioissa maisemissa eläimet, huonekalut ja tyhjät kulkuneuvot odottavat tuhoa. ”Me varmaan kuolimme yksin kauan, kauan sitten.” (D.B.)"

AA: An eulogy for David Bowie. Non-human imagery from The Man Who Fell to Earth flipped over and rearranged. A cosmic rumble is evoked, atavistic forces are at play. Nature footage approaches the status of painting. Experience estranged, senses of perception rebooted. A film of disorientation. We become the man who fell to earth, the alien.

Khadar Ahmed: Yövaras / The Night Thief.

Khadar Ahmed | Finland 2017 | Fiction | 15 min
    TFF: "The Night Thief is a warmhearted drama set in the suburbs of Helsinki, Finland. It tells the story of a Somali man, Farah, whose car starts to disappear mysteriously at night. Although the car always shows up in the morning, Farah starts to run late from work, and fears that he could lose his job. Farah’s wife is moving to Finland from Somalia and if Farah were to get fired, his wife’s residency permit would be in danger. Due to the circumstances, Farah decides to do whatever it takes to catch the thief. In the end, things take an unexpected turn when Farah finally faces the person who has been stealing his car."
    "Yövaras on Helsingin lähiöihin sijoittuva lämminhenkinen draama. Se on tarina somalimiehestä Farahista, jonka auto alkaa oudosti katoilla öisin. Vaikka auto aina aamuksi palaakin, myöhästyy Farah silti usein töistä ja alkaa pelätä saavansa potkut. Farahin vaimo on muuttamassa Somaliasta Suomeen, ja jos Farah menettää työnsä, vaimon oleskelulupa vaarantuu. Olosuhteista johtuen Farah päättää tehdä kaikkensa napatakseen varkaan. Lopussa seuraa yllättävä käänne, kun Farah viimein kohtaa henkilön, joka on varastellut hänen autoaan."

AA: Directed by Khadar Ahmed who scripted the interesting Saattokeikka (2017) last year. Based on a true story, the humoristic The Night Thief tells of a mysterious nocturnal car thief due to whom the protagonist almost loses his job because he is always late for work. In the surprise finale something bigger happens than getting to work on time.

Leena Jääskeläinen: Contact!

Leena Jääskeläinen | Finland 2017 | Experimental, Animation | 3 min
    TFF: "An experimental short film about movement and meeting. Contact! explores differences and similarities between dancing and martial arts aikido and judo. Technique is hand painted digital animation. Contact! was originally a projected animation installation without any sound. Both the director and musical composer of the film version of Contact! hold a black belt in aikido."
    "Kokeellinen lyhytelokuva liikkeestä ja kohtaamisesta. Osuma! tutkii eroja ja yhtäläisyyksiä tanssin sekä aikidon ja judon välillä käsinmaalatun digitaalisen animaation keinoin. Elokuva oli alun perin mykkäanimaatio. Sekä elokuvaversion ohjaajalla että säveltäjällä on musta vyö aikidossa."

AA: A hand-painted animation bringing together dance, aikido and judo, originally an installation, originally vertical. Leena Jääskeläinen believes in the future of the vertical movie. Engaging visually and musically. The attractive score is by Nikolai Kleiman, called "Dance of the Colour Characters".

Hannu-Pekka Peltomaa: Ruusukoto / Rose Garden.

Hannu-Pekka Peltomaa | Finland 2017 | Fiction | 22 min
C: Göran Schauman (Oskar), Leena Uotila (Sylvi), Arja Pekurinen (Hertta).
    TFF: "“We need to get out of here”. Rose Garden is an absurd story about institutionalized elderly care and lust for life."
    "“Meidän on päästävä pois täältä.” Ruusukoto on absurdi kertomus vanhusten laitoshoidosta ja elämänhalusta."

AA: A black comedy about a rest home where the conditions are so dismal that the residents plan to commit murder in order to be convicted to a prison sentence. Fully aware that the conditions are superior there. "We Gotta Get out of This Place" (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, 1965, first recorded by The Animals), a big hit in the Vietnam War, could sum this up.


Tampere Film Festival: National Competition 8

Pasi Sleeping Myllymäki: The Sleeping Interview.

Eng/Fin | 93 min
In the presence of Pasi Sleeping Myllymäki, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Marjo Viitala, Henna Välkky, Eesu Lehtola, Malakias, and Sanni Priha.
Tampere Film Festival (TFF), Plevna 2, Friday 9 March 2018

Pasi Sleeping Myllymäki | Finland 2017 | Experimental, Animation | 5 min
    TFF: "Sleeping Myllymäki: “Movie art is free visual art and free audial art together. And the script of my movie is more important than my face and more important than my studio.”"
    "Sleeping Myllymäki: “Elokuvataide on vapaa visuaalinen ja auditiivinen taidemuoto, ja elokuvani käsikirjoitus on tärkeämpi kuin omat kasvoni tai studioni.”"

AA: Pasi "Sleeping" Myllymäki's self-portrait for the Venice Biennale 2017: an interview as a self-interview as an anti-interview. Conducted in English with excerpts from three vintage movies made by Myllymäki together with Risto "Legend" Laakkonen they introduce his "glorious studio" (a humble barn), a pole dance, and a ride under ten tractors. Modest in means, rich in wit.

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen: Song for Billy.

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen | United Kingdom 2017 | Documentary | 19 min
    TFF: "Haunting images from England’s northern coastline coalesce into the tableaux-like meditation on a lost era. The mesmerising power of the sea contrasts with the vivid re-enacting of the tragic death of a coal miner. The sublime post-industrial landscape gleams in the photographs of Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, accompanied by a New York based percussion group."
    "Englannin pohjoisrannikon jylhät maisemat sulautuvat kuvaelman kaltaiseen pohdintaan kadonneesta ajasta. Meren lumoava voima luo jyrkän kontrastin todentuntuisesti kerratulle tarinalle kaivostyöläisen traagisesta kuolemasta. Upea jälkiteollinen maisema heijastuu Sirkka-Liisa Konttisen valokuvissa, joiden taustalla kuullaan newyorkilaisen lyömäsoitinryhmän musiikkia."

AA: Based on Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen's The Coal Coast photographs and the stories of the ex-miner Freddie Welsh, set to sound by So Percussion. An elegy of an industrial way of life, destroyed by Margaret Thatcher. Meditative and poetic, with a sense of the surge of the sea and the patina of time.

Marjo Viitala: Valehtelija / The Liar.

Marjo Viitala | Finland 2018 | Fiction | 15 min
    TFF: "Liina lives together with her mother. Her mother is often working night shifts so Liina needs to get by herself. In the same staircase, where Liina and mother live, is an apartment where a man died some time ago. One morning Liina hears a dog barking from the apartment. Liina starts making up a story of the dog and tells it to everyone during the day. A nightly rendezvous in the dead man’s apartment makes Liina’s stories become the truth."
    "Liina asuu äitinsä kanssa. Äiti on usein yövuorossa, joten Liinan on pärjättävä yksin. Samassa rapussa on asunto, jossa eräs mies jokin aika sitten kuoli. Eräänä aamuna Liina kuulee koiran haukuntaa tuosta asunnosta. Hän alkaa sepittää tarinaa koirasta ja kertoo sitä päivän aikana kaikille. Yöllinen kohtaaminen kuolleen miehen asunnossa muuttaa Liinan tarinat todeksi."

AA: The story of Liina, a schoolgirl and daughter of a single mother. Liina is a compulsive liar who is getting more and more hopelessly tangled in the web of her fabrications. The barking of a dog behind a door of a dead tenant and the discovery in the washroom that laundry has been stolen lead her to meet a boy without means and addicted to drugs. Fiction turns to reality, and reality turns out to be more complex than could have been anticipated. Well made and intriguing.

Henna Välkky, Eesu Lehtola: Me olemme unessa / We Are in a Dream.

Henna Välkky, Eesu Lehtola | Finland 2017 | Animation, Documentary, Experimental | 7 min
    TFF: "There is a line of men chasing us through a city where we can’t run. The escape is gruelling, our feet are wet and we drown deeper. We are not afraid, we have seen this before. This film is based on personal recordings of people narrating their recurring dreams."
    "Joukko miehiä ajaa meitä takaa halki kaupungin, emmekä voi juosta. Pako on uuvuttavaa, jalkamme ovat märät ja vajoamme syvemmälle. Emme pelkää, olemme nähneet tämän aiemminkin. Elokuva perustuu ihmisten kertomuksiin toistuvista unistaan."

AA: Over two years in the making, created and layered using many animation techniques, based on people's accounts of their recurrent dreams, a fascinating montage in the cyberworld, with a feeling of movement in depth, apparitions emerging and re-emerging, "and then I wake up".

Teppo Airaksinen: Katto / The Ceiling.

Teppo Airaksinen | Finland 2017 | Fiction | 15 min
    TFF: "On the brink of divorce a middle aged man, Olavi, retreats to his cabin by the lake. After a few days he finds that the ceiling has come down making him unable to stand up straight. His friend Tuomas arrives and insists that something has to be done whereas Olavi is content with the limited space. The two men start lifting the ceiling – but which of the men is really in need of help?"
    "Avioeron partaalla oleva keski-ikäinen Olavi vetäytyy rantamökilleen. Muutaman päivän kuluttua hän huomaa, että katto on romahtanut eikä hän mahdu enää seisomaan suorassa. Olavin ystävä Tuomas saapuu paikalle ja vaatii, että jotain on tehtävä. Olaville rajallinen tila kuitenkin riittää. Miehet alkavat nostaa kattoa paikoilleen, mutta kumpi onkaan enemmän avun tarpeessa?"

AA: In a way The Ceiling is the opposite to Quadraturin screened yesterday. In it the tenant's tiny room kept expanding. In The Ceiling the retreat cabin's ceiling keeps sinking. Perhaps the phenomenon is a signal alerting Olavi that life is not in control. An intriguing tale of depression.

Malakias: Eläintarha / The Zoo.

Malakias | Finland 2017 | Animation | 4 min
    “No More Presidents” -White Lion, When The Children Cry

AA: A fascinating animation based on many multi-layered techniques (cut-out, computer, etc.). A satire on the world today: world politics as a human zoo. Drolatic, rich, and eccentric like all the films of Malakias such as Forbidden Games (2015), Flower-Grave (2015), Fist of Fire (2013), Save the Rhinoceros (2010), and Bloody Hands (2009).

Sanni Priha: Puoli yhdeksän raivo / Prime Time Rage.

Sanni Priha | Finland 2017 | Documentary | 30 min
    TFF: "For every generation there is a war story to be told. The story is told in the evenings.It is like a movie about the good and the bad, us and them, profits and losses.Some images are so impressive that they are turned into symbols and monuments;beginnings, turning points and endings. This is a film about the story of warwhich the evening news told to us, growing up in the 1990s.The story was told with images of burning oil fields. It was reported that on its withdrawal the defeated side ignited the oil wells in fire, causing major financial losses.There were no images of human casualties. The story began when we we kids and it still goes on."
    "Jokaisella sukupolvella on sotatarina kerrottavanaan. Se kerrotaan iltaisin, ja se on kuin elokuva hyvästä ja pahasta, meistä ja niistä, voitoista ja tappioista. Jotkin kuvat ovat niin vaikuttavia, että niistä tehdään symboleita ja muistomerkkejä – alkuja, käännekohtia ja loppuja. Tämä on elokuva sotatarinasta, joka kerrottiin meille 1990-luvulla kasvaneille iltauutisissa. Tarinan kuvituksena olivat palavat öljykentät, jotka hävinnyt puoli tarinan mukaan sytytti vetäytyessään ja aiheutti näin mittavat taloudelliset tappiot. Ihmisuhreista ei näytetty kuvia. Tarina alkoi, kun olimme lapsia, ja se jatkuu edelleen."

AA: A meta-documentary on television's evening news bulletins. A focus is on the events 25-30 years ago: the end of the cold war, the fall of the wall, the liberation of Mandela. Another focus is on the US wars in the Middle East. A further one is on Finland's years of depression in the early 1990s when many people lost their financial security after a crash of the banking system based on a reckless credit practice. Finland's contribution to the international arms trade is another theme. The film is about the experience of war, violence becoming mundane and a sense of fear becoming permanent through television news bulletins. An interesting film which gives a lot to think about. The burning oil wells in the deserts of the Gulf War looked devastating on the big screen of the Plevna 2 cinema.


Aktivisti / Activist

Petteri Saario: Aktivisti / Activist, a documentary film featuring Riikka Karppinen from Sodankylä, Lapland.

Petteri Saario | Finland 2017 | Documentary | 57 min
Tampere Film Festival (TFF), National Competition, Plevna 5, Friday 9 March 2018

TFF: "Activist is a modern Jeanne d’Arc story in which a determined teenager from Finnish Lapland commences a battle against one of the world’s largest mining companies. She fights for the future of her home village and for an outstanding mire protected by European Union’s nature programme. Riikka Karppinen was a 15-year-old schoolgirl when Anglo American, an international mining giant, found nickel and copper deposits under her home village in northern Finland, 120 kilometres north of the Polar Circle. The discovery was described as the most significant of the century. But the ore lies underneath Riikka’s childhood paradise, a marshland reserve that is being protected because of its exceptional biodiversity. Which one is more valuable, natural values or ore deposits that can be turned into banknotes? Is everything for sale when the bid is high enough?The film is a touching and encouraging story about a young miner’s daughter on the cusp of adulthood and her strong will to make a difference. Trying to change things is often tiring but also rewarding, opening doors to opportunities that are rarely accessible to young ones."

"Aktivisti on moderni tarina Jeanne d’Arcista, jossa päättäväinen teini Suomen Lapista ryhtyy taisteluun erästä maailman suurinta kaivosyhtiötä vastaan. Taistelussa on kyse tytön kotikylän sekä EU:n ympäristöohjelman suojeleman upean suon tulevaisuudesta. Riikka Karppinen oli 15-vuotias koululainen, kun globaali kaivosjätti Anglo American löysi nikkeliä ja kuparia hänen kotikylänsä alta Pohjois-Suomessa, 120 kilometriä napapiiriltä. Löytöä kuvailtiin vuosisadan merkittävimmäksi. Mutta malmi sijaitsee Riikan lapsuuden paratiisin alla, suojellulla marskimaalla, joka on eliöstöltään poikkeuksellisen rikas. Kumpi on tärkeämpää, luontoarvot vai malmiesiintymät, jotka voi muuttaa rahaksi? Onko kaikki kaupan, jos hinnasta vain sovitaan? Elokuva kertoo koskettavan ja rohkaisevan tarinan aikuisuuden kynnyksellä olevasta kaivostyöläisen tyttärestä ja hänen vahvasta tahdostaan vaikuttaa asioihin. Asioiden muuttaminen on usein haastavaa mutta myös palkitsevaa, ja se avaa mahdollisuuksia, joita nuorille harvoin suodaan."

AA: Petteri Saario's portrait documentary of a fighter. Riikka Karppinen is from Sodankylä where the protected marshland is being threatened by supranational mining behemoths. It has turned out that there are in Lapland perhaps the richest untapped veins of nickel and copper in Europe.

The mining companies bring their workforce from abroad. They do not pay their taxes to Finland. The technologies are ultra-effective, and perhaps in 15 years they would have mined the entire nickel and copper findings and left nothing behind except a ruined wasteland instead of the current nature paradise.

It turns out that there are three different mining projects in Sodankylä. The companies keep getting bankrupt in a few years, being taken over by new ones.

Riikka Karppinen has carried a crusade against the exploitation of nature since she was 15, sometimes against a general apathy and resignation, but never giving up. She is politically affiliated with the Green Party, and at home and at the municipality council she keeps having an argument with her father who is a leftist.

Although Karppinen is a Green activist, she has no problem in entering the military. She is a sporty type and an outdoors type. The military gives her new perspectives to life.

She also enrolls in the University of Helsinki. She comments that the distance has a reverse effect: in Helsinki she feels closer to Lapland, and her estimation of Lapland keeps growing.

The film includes a lot of enchanting and sublime footage from the nature of Lapland: Northern Lights, aerial footage of the magical mystery atmosphere of the threatened Viiankiaapa marsh, fighting wood grouses at mating time, an owl family, a bear family, forest trekking, and fishing in the Kitisenjoki river.

Sodankylä is of course the site of the international Midnight Sun Film Festival since 1986. We visit a midnight sun event arranged by the Karppinens, a Night Trek to the Viiankiaapa marsh. Let's hope they can mobilise the film folks of the world to support the great cause.

This film, this campaign and this activist are about eternal values vs. short term financial gain.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

G. J. Ramstedtin maailma / Eastern Memories

Niklas Kullström, Martti Kaartinen | Finland 2017 | Documentary | 86 min
Tampere Film Festival (TFF), National Competition, Plevna 2, Thursay 8 March 2018

TFF: "Eastern Memories is a visually stunning journey into the past and present Far East. A story of adventure and exploration, love and death, conspiracies and the fall of nations. All told by a dead Finn from the distant north."

"G. J. Ramstedtin maailma on visuaalisesti häikäisevä matka menneisyyden ja nykypäivän Kaukoitään. Se on tarina seikkailusta ja tutkimusmatkailusta, rakkaudesta ja kuolemasta, salajuonista ja kansojen tuhosta. Tarina, jonka kertoo kuollut suomalainen kaukaa Pohjolasta." (TFF)

AA: G. J. Ramstedt (1873-1950) was a Finnish explorer, linguist and diplomat who mastered Asian languages including Mongolian, Japanese, and Korean. He published classic works on the oral tradition of Mongolian epic poetry and proverbs, and a foundation work on Korean grammar. He was the first Finnish chargé d'affaires in Japan and a translator of Japanese poetry. He published his memoirs at first as a radio series. I have in my bookshelf Seitsemän retkeä itään [Seven Trips to the East {1898-1912}] and Lähettiläänä Nipponissa [An Envoy in Japan {1919-1929}] in a one volume edition of 1967 in the Ikivihreitä muistelmia [Evergreen Memoirs] series. Having seen this film I now look forward to finally reading them.

Many years in the making, the film by Niklas Kullström and Martti Kaartinen focuses on the spiritual essence of Ramstedt's encounter of different cultures. In the film we identify with the cultural passion and mission of G. J. Ramstedt, and it is easy to understand why he could win the sympathy of the cultural figures and leaders of the countries he visited.

Languages are unique vehicles of understanding the world, the being itself, and Ramstedt tried to find his way to the spiritual essence of the languages he studies. For instance via religion, poetry, myth and wit. Schooled in the young academic tradition of Finnish linguistics and folklore studies he was fascinated by other old cultures with deep oral traditions.

Niklas Kullström and Martti Kaartinen's film is full of wisdom and food for thought. Meeting different cultures we need constantly to rethink ourselves. "Best I thrived in Mongolia. Nowhere have I met such good people. If you see a stranger on the steppe it is customary to step down from the horse and wait. For a half an hour you exchange courtesies. Then you may get to the point". Good training for diplomacy.

The main narrative of the film takes place a hundred years ago, but there is no historical footage in the film. All footage is contemporary while we hear G. J. Ramstedt's memoirs and hear the evocative music score on the soundtrack.

The film takes place on two time levels: the past in the commentary and the present in the imagery. But the past lives in the present, and the visuals are full of references to the past.

I was thinking about Claude Lanzmann's Shoah because of the structural solution to avoid historical footage. Amazingly, it can make the film more powerful in evoking history.

We are also learning from a philosophy of time different from the Western one, projecting to the past and the future. The Mongolians soon recognize in Ramstedt an incarnation of one of their own. The film-makers also document Mongolian as a living language for instance in performances of Mongolian rap. Mongolian apparently is especially suitable for rap.

The general visual sense is epic: the immense steppes, the infinite sky.

I would recommend this movie to diplomats, but this movie is about much more than diplomacy. It is about friendship of the deepest kind, the unity of humankind.

Tampere Film Festival: National Competition 11

Antonia Ringbom: Siili: mielikertomuksia / Hedgehog: Mindscapes.

Eng/Fin | 92 min
In the presence of Antonia Ringbom, Laura Hyppönen, Arttu Liimatta, Jan Ijäs, and PV Lehtinen.
Tampere Film Festival (TFF), Plevna 5, Thursday 8 March

From the Sinnebilder series.
Antonia Ringbom | Finland 2017 | Animation | 8 min
    TFF: "From the age of 16 he used alcohol and drugs to keep anguish away. In the shape of an animated hedgehog he tells about his fights against voices and shapes. Art helps him out of the worst."
    "16-vuotiaasta saakka hän käytti alkoholia ja huumeita pitääkseen ahdistuksen poissa. Animoidun siilin hahmossa hän kertoo kamppailustaan ääniä ja hahmoja vastaan. Taide auttaa häntä pahimman yli.

AA: A true story of addiction and mental illness expressed via exquisite animation (multi-technique: cut-out, crayon look). The aspect of psychedelia is serious and impressive. Based on a true story, the real-life protagonist was present in the screening to take the bows. *

Arttu Liimatta: Villa Mehu – kadonnut koti / Villa Mehu – a Lost Home.

Arttu Liimatta | Finland 2017 | Documentary | 7 min
    TFF: “Villa Mehu – A Lost Home” is a poetic short documentary about the destructive force of time and the fragility of one man’s lifework. It’s a melancholic journey to the past, a visit to mystical Villa Mehu built by a deceased ITE artist Elis Sinistö. Located deep in the woods of Veklahti, Finland, Villa Mehu served as Sinistö’s home for 50 years and it was also the greatest artwork of his life although it has never got the respect that it should deserve. Today, after Sinistö’s death, it is decaying slowly but surely towards its final demolition without anyone even noticing. “Villa Mehu – A Lost Home” takes its audience to a hypnotic journey through the bizarre yet beautiful world of Elis Sinistö. It is both a tribute to his lifework and an attempt to save a little piece of Finland’s cultural history."
    "Villa Mehu – kadonnut koti on poeettinen lyhytdokumentti ajan tuhovoimasta ja yhden miehen elämäntyön hauraudesta. Se on melankolinen kurkistus menneisyyteen, vierailu mystiseen Villa Mehuun, jonka rakensi edesmennyt ITE-taiteilija Elis Sinistö. Syvällä metsän siimeksessä Veklahdessa sijaitseva Villa Mehu toimi Sinistön kotina 50 vuotta, ja se oli myös hänen elämänsä merkittävin taideteos, vaikkei se koskaan saanutkaan ansaitsemaansa kunniaa. Nyt Sinistön kuoleman jälkeen Villa Mehu on hitaasti mutta varmasti ränsistymässä kohti lopullista purkamistaan, ilman että kukaan edes huomaa. Villa Mehu – kadonnut koti vie katsojansa hypnoottiselle matkalle Elis Sinistön kummallisen mutta kauniin maailman halki. Elokuva on sekä kunnianosoitus Sinistön elämäntyölle että yritys säilyttää pieni pala Suomen kulttuurihistoriaa.

AA: Arttu Liimatta is interested in abandoned houses. A meditation on the ravages of time seen from the perspective of a former artist's house in the process of being ruined, consigned to fall into the state of nature.

Antti Tanttu: Qualia.

Antti Tanttu | Finland 2017 | Experimental, Animation | 7 min
    TFF: "Blackboard animation Qualia seeks for the essence of experience. There is no such thing as same feeling, same pain, same colour. Qualia is always subjective. The essence of universal experience is unreachable."
    "Liitutauluanimaatio Qualia etsii kokemuksen ydintä. Ei ole olemassa jaettua tunnetta, jaettua kipua tai jaettua väriä. Qualia on aina subjektiivinen. Yleisen kokemuksen ydintä ei voi saavuttaa.

AA: A refined blackboard animation switching from movement to standstill, from the inanimate to the animated, from abstraction to figures, with faces emerging from the void. The music track is fine.

Laura Hyppönen: Quadraturin.

Laura Hyppönen | United Kingdom 2017 | Fiction | 18 min
    TFF: "Sutulin lives in a tiny, cramped room in a communal Soviet apartment. A mysterious stranger knocks on his door and offers him a promotional sample of Quadraturin, a miracle product that promises to enlarge interior spaces. Sutulin takes up the offer, with surprising consequences…"
    "Sutulin asuu pienessä, ahtaassa huoneessa neuvostoliittolaisessa yhteisasunnossa. Mystinen vieras koputtaa hänen ovelleen ja tarjoaa näytettä Quadraturinista, ihmetuotteesta, joka lupaa laajentaa sisätiloja. Sutulin tarttuu tarjoukseen, mutta päätöksellä on yllättäviä seurauksia.

AA: An inspired dark fairy-tale belonging to the currents of the absurd and the surreal. A magic potion called Quadraturin can make the tenant's tiny room expand enormously. But then there is trouble with the Measuring Committee. Laura Hyppönen has the right crisp touch to the story. I was thinking about Polanski (the early shorts and The Tenant).
    Based on a short story (1926) by the Polish Russian writer Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (1887-1950) who according to Wikipedia was influenced by Robert Louis Stevenson, G. K. Chesterton, Edgar Allan Poe, Nikolai Gogol, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and H. G. Wells. Laura Hyppönen finds him worthy of Kafka; Kafka's works Krzhizhanovsky did not know.

Jan Ijäs: Waste No. 3 Boom.

Jan Ijäs | Finland 2017 | Documentary | 18 min
    TFF: "Boom is an independent episode from a series of seven films entitled Waste. Boom was shot in Kittilä in northern Finland, in a ‘lunar landscape’ on top of a hill where the Finnish armed forces annually disposes of expired explosives. Calculations show that detonation is the least expensive method of disposal.During a week­long camp a total of 1.2 million kg of explosives are destroyed. The explosion safety area is seven kilometres. The explosion produces a mushroom cloud that reaches up to the lowers clouds and creates a crater about ten metres deep and thirty metres across. In the video, army representatives talk about ‘a hole three majors deep’."
    "Pam on itsenäinen osa seitsemän elokuvan sarjassa nimeltä Jäte. Pam on kuvattu Kittilän ”kuumaisemassa” mäen laella, jossa armeija vuosittain tuhoaa vanhentuneita räjähteitä. Laskelmien mukaan räjäyttäminen on halvin tuhoamiskeino. Viikon aikana tuhotaan yhteensä 1,2 miljoonaa kiloa räjähteitä, ja turva-alue ulottuu seitsemän kilometrin etäisyydelle. Räjähdys synnyttää sienipilven, joka yltää alimpiin pilviin taivaalla, ja repii 10 metriä syviä ja 30 metriä leveitä kraattereita. Videolla armeijan edustajat kuvaavat kuoppia ”kolmen majurin korkuisiksi”.

AA: A documentary film with devastating implications. The methodical detonations send remarkable shockwaves. Mushroom clouds reaching the lowest clouds on the sky bring back memories. Time lapse is used. Apocalyptic.

Risto-Pekka Blom: Pysäyttäjä / Interceptor.

Risto-Pekka Blom | Finland 2018 | Experimental, Fiction | 5 min
    TFF: "In 1989, an unknown person halted the column of armored troops at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. On the previous day, a demonstration that originated as a student protest, was violently suppressed by the army."
    "In democracies, the use of brutal force has been replaced by structural violence, where the power is centered around a small economical elite pursuing their own interests. The main purpose of the political system is to maintain these power structures."
    "Tuntematon henkilö pysäytti panssarivaunujen kolonnan vuonna 1989 Tiananmenin aukiolla Pekingissä, Kiinassa. Armeija oli edellisenä päivänä hajottanut opiskelijoiden protestista alkaneen mielenosoituksen verisesti."
    "Demokratioissa väkivaltaisen voimankäytön tilalla on rakenteellinen väkivalta, jossa valtaa käyttää omia etujaan ajava talouseliitti. Poliittisen järjestelmän tehtävänä on varmistaa näiden valtarakenteiden toimivuus.

AA: A performance act, a demonstration, one person stopping the traffic.

PV Lehtinen: Dans på tunn is / Dance on Thin Ice.

In Swedish.
PV Lehtinen | Finland 2017 | Fiction | 32 min
    TFF: "Dance On Thin Ice tells the story of Felix, a twelve-year-old boy who is left to spend Christmas alone while his parents travel to India. A reluctant Felix ends up as an ice cream seller at a deserted swimming stadium, where the surface of the pool has frozen solid. But the swimming stadium is not completely deserted after all. Felix meets a dark-haired refugee girl called Fakira, whose parents were killed in a bombing in Syria. A dreamlike story where two young strangers to each other, a boy and a refugee girl, meet under unusual circumstances. Together, they make the impossible possible. Dance On Thin Ice is a story about alienation and the latent power of being different. The main characters of the film are misfits. In their own way, there is something “wrong” with them, but at the same time, something unique. Together, they right a wrong. The film shows the world through the eyes of a child, on a child’s terms. The themes of the film are tolerance and overcoming oneself."
    "Tanssi heikoilla jäillä on kertomus 12-vuotiaasta Felixistä, joka jätetään yksin juhlimaan joulua vanhempien matkustaessa Intiaan. Vastahankainen Felix päätyy jäätelönmyyjäksi hylättyyn uimalaan, jonka altaan pinta on jäätynyt umpeen. Mutta uimala ei olekaan täysin autio, ja Felix tapaa tummatukkaisen pakolaistytön nimeltä Fakira, jonka vanhemmat kuolivat pommituksessa Syyriassa. Tämä on unenomainen tarina kahdesta toisilleen tuntemattomasta nuoresta, pojasta ja pakolaistytöstä, jotka tapaavat epätavallisissa olosuhteissa. Yhdessä he tekevät mahdottomasta totta. Tanssi heikoilla jäillä kertoo vieraudesta ja erilaisuudessa piilevästä voimasta. Elokuvan päähahmot ovat sopeutumattomia. Omalla tavallaan heissä on jotain “vialla”, mutta samalla he ovat ainutlaatuisia, ja yhdessä he korjaavat vääryyden. Elokuva tarkastelee maailmaa lapsen silmin ja lapsen ehdoilla, ja sen teemoina ovat suvaitsevaisuus sekä itsensä ylittäminen.

AA: A fairy-tale of two children abandoned at Christmastime. The fantasy and the assured exaggeration remind me of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. Felix is ordered to send ice cream at the deserted olympic swimming stadium in winter. Fakira is expected to do a perilous jump from the diving tower although the pool is frozen. A fine music score, the final piano theme by Salla Luhtala.

Wheels of Freedom

Wheels of Freedom featuring Ville Jaaranto.

Aleksi Puranen | Finland, Germany 2018 | Documentary | 87 min
In the presence of Ville Jaaranto, Aleksi Puranen and eight members of the team.
Tampere Film Festival (TFF), National Competition, Plevna 2, 8 March 2018

TFF: "Being alive and having a life are two different things for Ville Jaaranto. Freedom as his dream and equality on his agenda, he sets to travel across Europe by his power wheelchair. While on his journey, he comes to realize that neither he himself nor the world around him are quite ready for it. Crazy dreams are the best cure for a mundane life."

"Elää ja olla elossa ovat eri asiat Ville Jaarannolle. Vapaus haaveenaan ja yhdenvertaisuus agendanaan hän lähtee sähköpyörätuolillaan matkalle Euroopan halki. Matkalla hän huomaa, etteivät hän eikä ympäröivä maailma ole siihen valmiita. Arjen harmauteen paras lääke ovat hullut unelmat.

AA: A humoristic odyssey featuring Ville Jaaranto who has a condition of ankylosis (from ἀγκύλος) (niveljäykistymä) but that does not prevent him from embarking on a road trip on his power wheelchair. Everything does not go according to plan but this is one of the cases where the trip itself is more rewarding than the announced destination.