Saturday, December 21, 2019

Tottumiskysymys / Force of Habit

Tottumiskysymys: gala opening. The directors, from left: Anna Paavilainen, Alli Haapasalo, Kirsikka Saari, Elli Toivoniemi, Jenni Toivoniemi, Reetta Aalto and Miia Tervo. Photo: Anni.jpeg © Tuffi Films 2019. Please click on the photo to enlarge it.

En vanesak / En vanefråga.
    FI © 2019 Tuffi Films Oy. P: Elli Toivoniemi.
    D+SC: Kirsikka Saari, Elli Toivoniemi, Reetta Aalto, Alli Haapasalo, Anna Paavilainen, Miia Tervo, Jenni Toivoniemi.
    Cin: Päivi Kettunen, Jarmo Kiuru, Kerttu Hakkarainen. PD: Laura Haapakangas, Katariina Kapi, Sanna-Mari Pirkola. Cost: Roosa Marttiini. Makeup: Kaisu Hölttä, Roosa Marttiini. ED: Yva Fabricius, Anniina Kauttonen, Otto Heikola. M: Joona Samuel / Joona Jaakkola. S: Lotta Mäki. Songs include:
– "Käyrä nousemaan" (Inari Katramo, Sipi Castrén), perf. Kikka.
– "Tänd alla ljus" perf. Silvana Imam. (Heard in toto during the end credits).
    76 min
    Festival premiere: 13 Sep 2019 Kokkola.
    Premiere: 27 Sep 2019 – distributed by Tuffi Films – Swedish subtitles by Hannele Vahtera.
    DCP viewed at Tennispalatsi 7, Helsinki, 21 Dec 2019.

1. Bussi / The Bus. Based on Pysäkki / A Stop, D: Elli Toivoniemi, C: Pinja Sanaksenaho, Veikko Aalste, Joel Hirvonen. A schoolgirl is bullied by two vicious guys on the bus.
2. Teatteri / The Theatre. Based on Play Rape. D: Anna Paavilainen. C: Julia Lappalainen, Jussi Sorjanen, Elina Knihtilä, Kati Outinen, Tommi Eronen. Sexual violence, including rape and murder, is unvarnished on the theatre stage, but whose viewpoint is the one that matters?
3. Loma / The Vacation. Based on Pikku juttu / No Big Deal. D: Alli Haapasalo. C: Krista Kosonen, Eero Ritala. A romantic vacation in Portugal is spoiled by a local macho groping the lady.
4. Makuuhuone / The Bedroom. Based on Buduaar / Boudoir. D: Reetta Aalto. C: Suvi Blick, Joonas Snellman. When an unwanted admirer does not take "no" for an answer.
5. Firman juhlat / The Office Party. Based on Juhlatunnelma / Festive Spirit. D: Jenni Toivoniemi. C: Pirjo Lonka, Jarkko Pajunen, Teemu Aromaa, Seidi Haarla, Minna Suuronen, Niina Hosiasluoma, Abdulrazaq Al-Jewari, Waanie Nonglak, Ella Lahdemäki, Samuli Niittymäki. Katja lets slip that she has been seriously harassed by her boss. Everybody tries to process the revelation. In the end Katja is left outside.
6. Oikeudenkäynti / The Trial. Based on Ei mitään hätää / It's All Right. D: Miia Tervo. C: Johannes Holopainen, Lotta Kaihua, Ria Kataja, Tommi Korpela, Leo Honkonen, Chike Ohanwe, Ona Kamu, Martti Tervo. Aleksi, a male lawyer, prosecutes his first case in a court: a rape. He manages a guilty verdict, but the process has taken years, there is an appeal which will take even more years, and the verdict is likely to be watered down. Violent rape is handled as a minor issue.

Official synopsis: "Force of Habit follows the lives of various women throughout one day. Hilla is having a romantic vacation, Emmi is throwing a house party, and Milja is on her way to school when they're approached by a stranger and things take an unexpected turn. At the same time, Emppu, a young actress, is conflicted as she rehearses for the biggest role of her life. Elsewhere, Aleksi, an inexperienced prosecutor, is preparing for his first court case in haste; Niina, the victim of the crime, has been waiting years to see her case tried. Miia throws a company party, and the mood dramatically changes when her colleague Katja opens up about their boss coming on to her. Miia and a couple of her closest colleagues try to resolve the situation, but how do the others react?"

AA: Force of Habit is a multi-character study based on independent crosscut tales in the same way as Short Cuts and Magnolia. The movie is a result from the same project as the short film anthology Yksittäistapaus / A One-Off Case (2019) comprising eleven short films, with a total duration of 143 minutes.

The duration of this feature film is 76 minutes. We follow six stories with the common theme of sexual harassment seen from the female viewpoint except in The Trial where a rape case is handled by a male prosecutor.

In this pioneering movie project the theme is the invisible subordination of women. Some stories take place in ordinary life (on a bus, in an office party, after a house party). Two stories happen in hallowed institutions: at the Finnish National Theatre and at the Helsinki Court House. The stories are located in Finland except the one that unfolds during a romantic vacation in Lisbon.

Some stories are about everyday harassment, but even in the extraordinary cases there is an unsettling "business as usual" aspect. Sexual violence is banalized in the theatre repertory. Rape cases are routine in the court.

The film is a part of an advocacy project, and the tendency is explicit. Males are mostly portrayed in an unflattering light, and even the ones who fight harassment prove impotent. But even women shy away from solidarity. Nobody defends the bullied schoolgirl on the bus or the harassed employee at the office party.

All stories are powerful. There is particular gravity and complexity in Play Rape, Festive Spirit and The Trial.

The spirit is out of the bottle; I look forward to more.

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