Saturday, March 28, 2020

Bob Dylan: "Murder Most Foul" (official audio, released on YouTube 27 March 2020)

Bob Dylan: "Murder Most Foul". 17 minutes. Released on Friday, 27 March 2020, past midnight on Bob Dylan's YouTube channel and social media. Also available via Sony on major music streaming platforms.

"Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years. This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you." - Bob Dylan [27 March 2020]

Yesterday Bob Dylan released a new song, "Murder Most Foul", a stream of consciousness recitative, a lament of the assassination of President Kennedy and its soul-killing reverberations, at 17 minutes the contemporary Bard's longest song.

Nearly every verse contains a reference or is a direct quotation. Many verses consist of names of artists and their works. Based on recycling, there is an affinity with the Dadaist découpé / cut-up method. In the cinema, we may be reminded of the art of poetic compilations, such as late Godard since Histoire(s) du cinéma.

During the Corona pandemic, we need storytellers no less than in the times of Boccaccio's Decamerone when survivors kept up morale during the Black Death. Via the Internet, Bob Dylan speaks to the world.

Starting to unravel the puzzle of associations, here are two for the starters.

The title "Murder Most Foul" is from Hamlet. The ghost of Hamlet's father reflects upon his own death:

Murder most foul as in the best it is
But this most foul, strange and unnatural.

"It is what it is": I don't know where this comes from, but it is a key sentence in Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, a reference to death, and in the context, contract killing. Although nobody states it directly in the movie, we are left with the suspicion that organized crime was behind the JFK assassination, the mob being disappointed with the President's failure to oust Castro.

PS. 31 March 2020. The profusion of allusions evokes T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land (1922) to Mark Beaumont (NME New Musical Express, 29 March 2020).

Collected commentary on the Expecting Rain site:

I copy the lyrics from


It was a dark day in Dallas, November '63
A day that will live on in infamy
President Kennedy was a-ridin' high
Good day to be livin' and a good day to die
Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb
He said, "Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?"
"Of course we do, we know who you are!"
Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car
Shot down like a dog in broad daylight
Was a matter of timing and the timing was right
You got unpaid debts, we've come to collect
We're gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect
We'll mock you and shock you and we'll put it in your face
We've already got someone here to take your place
The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing
It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
Right there in front of everyone's eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done
Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl
Rub-a-dub-dub, it's a murder most foul


Hush, little children, you'll understand
The Beatles are comin', they're gonna hold your hand
Slide down the banister, go get your coat
Ferry 'cross the Mersey and go for the throat
There's three bums comin' all dressed in rags
Pick up the pieces and lower the flags
I'm goin' to Woodstock, it's the Aquarian Age
Then I'll go to Altamont and sit near the stage
Put your head out the window, let the good times roll
There's a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll
Stack up the bricks, pour the cement
Don't say Dallas don't love you, Mr. President
Put your foot in the tank and then step on the gas
Try to make it to the triple underpass
Blackface singer, whiteface clown
Better not show your faces after the sun goes down
Up in the red light district, they've got cop on the beat
Living in a nightmare on Elm Street
When you're down on Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe
Don't ask what your country can do for you
Cash on the ballot, money to burn
Dealey Plaza, make a left-hand turn
I'm going down to the crossroads, gonna flag a ride
The place where faith, hope, and charity lie
Shoot him while he runs, boy, shoot him while you can
See if you can shoot the invisible man
Goodbye, Charlie! Goodbye, Uncle Sam!
Frankly, Miss Scarlett, I don't give a damn
What is the truth, and where did it go?
Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know
"Shut your mouth," said a wise old owl
Business is business, and it's a murder most foul


Tommy, can you hear me? I'm the Acid Queen
I'm riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine
Ridin' in the backseat next to my wife
Headed straight on in to the afterlife
I'm leaning to the left, I got my head in her lap
Hold on, I've been led into some kind of a trap
Where we ask no quarter, and no quarter do we give
We're right down the street, from the street where you live
They mutilated his body and they took out his brain
What more could they do? They piled on the pain
But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at
For the last fifty years they've been searchin' for that
Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me
I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free
Send me some lovin', then tell me no lie
Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by
Wake up, little Susie, let's go for a drive
Cross the Trinity River, let's keep hope alive
Turn the radio on, don't touch the dials
Parkland hospital, only six more miles
You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead
That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head
I'm just a patsy like Patsy Cline
Never shot anyone from in front or behind
I've blood in my eye, got blood in my ear
I'm never gonna make it to the new frontier
Zapruder's film I seen night before
Seen it thirty-three times, maybe more
It's vile and deceitful, it's cruel and it's mean
Ugliest thing that you ever have seen
They killed him once and they killed him twice
Killed him like a human sacrifice
The day that they killed him, someone said to me, "Son
The age of the Antichrist has just only begun"
Air Force One comin' in through the gate
Johnson sworn in at 2:38
Let me know when you decide to throw in the towel
It is what it is, and it's murder most foul


What's new, pussycat? What'd I say?
I said the soul of a nation been torn away
And it's beginning to go into a slow decay
And that it's thirty-six hours past Judgment Day
Wolfman Jack, he's speaking in tongues
He's going on and on at the top of his lungs
Play me a song, Mr. Wolfman Jack
Play it for me in my long Cadillac
Play me that "Only the Good Die Young"
Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung
Play "St. James Infirmary" and the Court of King James
If you want to remember, you better write down the names
Play Etta James, too, play "I'd Rather Go Blind"
Play it for the man with the telepathic mind
Play John Lee Hooker, play "Scratch My Back"
Play it for that strip club owner named Jack
Guitar Slim going down slow
Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe


Play "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"
Play it for the First Lady, she ain't feeling any good
Play Don Henley, play Glenn Frey
Take it to the limit and let it go by
Play it for Carl Wilson, too
Looking far, far away down Gower Avenue
Play tragedy, play "Twilight Time"
Take me back to Tulsa to the scene of the crime
Play another one and "Another One Bites the Dust"
Play "The Old Rugged Cross" and "In God We Trust"
Ride the pink horse down that long, lonesome road
Stand there and wait for his head to explode
Play "Mystery Train" for Mr. Mystery
The man who fell down dead like a rootless tree
Play it for the reverend, play it for the pastor
Play it for the dog that got no master
Play Oscar Peterson, play Stan Getz
Play "Blue Sky," play Dickey Betts
Play Art Pepper, Thelonious Monk
Charlie Parker and all that junk
All that junk and "All That Jazz"
Play something for the Birdman of Alcatraz
Play Buster Keaton, play Harold Lloyd
Play Bugsy Siegel, play Pretty Boy Floyd
Play the numbers, play the odds
Play "Cry Me A River" for the Lord of the gods
Play Number nine, play Number six
Play it for Lindsey and Stevie Nicks
Play Nat King Cole, play "Nature Boy"
Play "Down In The Boondocks" for Terry Malloy
Play "It Happened One Night" and "One Night of Sin"
There's twelve million souls that are listening in
Play "Merchant of Venice", play "Merchants of Death"
Play "Stella by Starlight" for Lady Macbeth
Don't worry, Mr. President, help's on the way
Your brothers are comin', there'll be hell to pay
Brothers? What brothers? What's this about hell?
Tell them, "We're waiting, keep coming," we'll get them as well
Love Field is where his plane touched down
But it never did get back up off the ground
Was a hard act to follow, second to none
They killed him on the altar of the rising sun
Play "Misty" for me and "That Old Devil Moon"
Play "Anything Goes" and "Memphis in June"
Play "Lonely At the Top" and "Lonely Are the Brave"
Play it for Houdini spinning around his grave
Play Jelly Roll Morton, play "Lucille"
Play "Deep In a Dream", and play "Driving Wheel"
Play "Moonlight Sonata" in F-sharp
And "A Key to the Highway" for the king on the harp
Play "Marching Through Georgia" and "Dumbarton's Drums"
Play darkness and death will come when it comes
Play "Love Me Or Leave Me" by the great Bud Powell
Play "The Blood-stained Banner", play "Murder Most Foul"

Lyrics copied from

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Lucia Bosè morta di Coronavirus

Luis Buñuel: Cela s'appelle l'aurore (1956): Georges Marchal and Lucia Bosè.

Michelangelo Antonioni: Cronaca di un amore (1950), co-written by Francesco Maselli, starring Lucia Bosè.

Giuseppe De Santis: Non c'è pace tra gli ulivi (1950) starring Lucia Bosè.

Luciano Emmer: Le ragazze di Piazza di Spagna (1952): Lucia Bosè, Liliana Bonfatti and Cosetta Greco.

Juan Antonio Bardem: Muerte de un ciclista (1955) with Lucia Bosè.

Francesco Maselli: Gli sbandati (1955) with Lucia Bosè.

Discovered by Luchino Visconti while she was still a teenage saleslady at the Pasticcheria Galli in Milan in 1947, Lucia Bosè (1931–2020) soon emerged as a uniquely soulful presence in the cinema: in the militant branch of Neorealism (Non c'è pace tra gli ulivi and Roma ore 11 by Giuseppe De Santis), as the first and original incarnation of the alienation of the modern woman in the oeuvre of Michelangelo Antonioni (Cronaca di un amore and La signora senza camelie), in a sunnier variant of new Italian cinema (Luciano Emmer's Le ragazze di Piazza di Spagna) and in a key settling of accounts of the war years (Franceso Maselli's Gli sbandati). She branched out in the Spanish direction in an unforgettable leading role in Juan Antonio Bardem's Muerte de un ciclista and a noble militant part in Luis Buñuel's Cela s'appelle l'aurore. She moved to Spain and took a break in her career to raise her children, Miguel Bosè, Lucía Dominguín and Paolo Dominguín, with her husband, the bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín. Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway were friends of the family. Visconti was Miguel's godfather while Picasso was the godfather to Paolo. Lucia Bosè died at the General Hospital of Segovia on 23 March 2020 from pneumonia complicated by COVID-19 during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Spain.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Watching Northern lights in Lapland

Northern lights, 19 March 2020, Äkäslompolo. Camera phone snapshot through the ski cottage window by Laila Alanen.

 Generic photo: Ylläs: tracking Northern lights, . Photo: Visit Finland.

Last night I saw for the first time in my life Northern lights (revontulet / aurora borealis / polarsken / Polarlicht / Полярное сияние / aurora polar / aurore polaire / aurora polare). It was a clear and starry night, and the village lights of Äkäslompolo were out. I was able to observe the spectacle for some fifteen minutes. It filled the sky and was constantly changing, sometimes slowly, sometimes rapidly. Mostly it was colourless: just luminous light dancing in magnificent formations.

The cinemas of Finland closed on Tuesday, 17 March 2020, including Kino Kellokas at Ylläs. Because of the coronavirus pandemic there is the first state of emergency in Finland since WWII. But here we can view the most haunting and sublime spectacles of light – the ones that inspired ancient shamans of the Sami people.

PS. 31 March 2020: Last week, Gian Luca Farinelli sent a letter from Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna stating: "Dal 1895 è la prima volta che l’umanità non può godere dell’invenzione dei fratelli Lumière, del piacere di stare assieme, in una sala cinematografica, davanti a uno schermo. Non era mai accaduto, nemmeno negli anni tragici della guerra." (Gian Luca Farinelli: "La Cineteca 'resta a casa' ma non si ferma", circular e-mail 26 March 2020, 5:49 pm).

This year is the 125. jubileum year of the cinema. Never before have cinemas been closed worldwide, not even during wartime, as Farinelli was the first one to point out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Der lebende Leichnam / Zhivoi trup / The Living Corpse

Живой труп / Elävä ruumis / Det levande liket / Le Cadavre vivant / Il cadavere vivante.
     DE / SU 1929. PC: Mezhrabpom-Film (Moscow) / Prometheus Film-Verleih und Vertrieb GmbH (Berlin) / Länderfilm (Berlin). P: Willi Münzenberg. P manager: Conny Carstennsen.
    D: Fedor Ozep. SC: Boris Gusman, Anatoli Marienhof – based on the play by Leo Tolstoy, written around 1900 and premiered posthumously in 1911 (Moscow Art Theatre) – also in Finland in 1911 (Tampereen Teatteri). Cin: Anatoli Golovnya, Phil Jutzi. AD: Sergei Kozlovski, Viktor Simov. M (for a cinema orchestra): Werner Schmidt-Boelcke (1929). ED: Fedor Ozep, Vsevolod Pudovkin. Ass D: Georg Friedland.
    C: Vsevolod Pudovkin (Fedya Protasov), Maria Jacobini (Liza = Yelizaveta Protasova), Viola Garden (Sasha, Liza's sister), Julia Serda (Anna Pavlovna), Nato Vachnadze (Masha, a gypsy), Gustav Diessl (Viktor Karenin), Vera Maretskaya (the "dame"), Daniil Vvedenski (Artemev, the good spirit), Vladimir Uralski (Petushkov), Boris Barnet (pickpocket / sailor in tavern), Mikhail Zharov, Carola Höhn, Sylvia Torf.
    2968 m.
    Berlin premiere: 14 Feb 1929.
    Russian premiere: 26 March 1929.
    Finnish premiere: 2 Sep 1929.
    1988 ZDF reconstruction: Gerd Luft and Frank Strobel based on a cue sheet conserved at the MoMA. Conductor: Kurt Graunke (1988). Orchestra: Orchester des WDR (Cologne) (1988). Pordenone GCM 1989: 120 min, in the presence of Georg Friedland and Martin Koerber (curator of the restoration), music in playback courtesy ZDF.
    2012 restoration, based on six different versions: Österreichisches Filmmuseum / Deutsche Kinematek, premiere: Berlinale 2012 (Die rote Traumfabrik), 121 min.
    A Russian RVision YouTube link of a 3sat telecast of the 1988 version with live orchestra performance inserts – viewed at a ski cottage, Äkäslompolo, 17 March 2020.

I saw for the first time Fedor Ozep's The Living Corpse, the famous film having somehow always eluded me until now. Together with The Yellow Ticket (1928, starring Anna Sten), it was Ozep's breakthrough into an international career. For Vsevolod Pudovkin as an actor, it was his only leading role in a film, and his sober and intensive performance carries it memorably. The Living Corpse was a highlight in the illustrious collaboration between the Russian Mezhrabpomfilm and the German Prometheus-Film. It was based on Leo Tolstoy's popular play which has been filmed dozens of times, but the two major film adaptations are this one and the 1969 Lenfilm production directed by Vladimir Vengerov and starring Aleksei Batalov.

Granted that the protagonist is a passive character getting slowly detached from life it is surprising that the subject has been so popular in films. There is an affinity in the play with Pirandello's The Late Mattia Pascal, who has been interpreted in films by Ivan Mosjoukine, Pierre Blanchar and Marcello Mastroianni. Another connection might be Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger in which Jack Nicholson plays a similar role. Here the ennui derives from the all-Russian tradition of the лишний человек – "the superfluous man".

Fedor Ozep and Vsevolod Pudovkin dare to be slow in sequences of contemplation and resignation. Pudovkin's acting is dignified as Fedya, as are the performances of the other members of the trio, Maria Jacobini as Liza and Gustav Diessl as Viktor. Likewise with Viola Garden as Liza's sister. Jarringly many of the other performances are in a grotesque register which might be a daring and interesting choice, but clearly Ozep is not at home in this mode.

Also the visual approach is based on two contrasting modes: a sober one for the human drama, and a Soviet montage school approach for quite a number of other occasions. The Blitz montage sequences feel like musical production numbers (not least the inevitable gypsy orchestra scenes) or special effects. They are elaborate and well made but feel like pastiches of Eisenstein and Pudovkin (and perhaps even Gance). Interestingly, Pudovkin himself is the co-editor, but an organic quality is missing. The montage in this film does not stem from the soul, from the heart, from the balls; it is meant for the show. The film feels like a calling card for Ozep in introducing him to an international career. In this he succeeded.

The cinematography by Anatoli Golovnya and Phil Jutzi is first rate, and the art intertitles with their expressionistic, exaggerated and elongated letters add to the polish – and the anguish.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Täydellinen joulu

FI 2019. PC: Bronson Club Oy. P: Jesse Fryckman. EX: Max Seeck.
    D: Taru Mäkelä. SC adaptation: Kris Gummerus – based on the film Tomten är far till alla barnen / Joulupukki vieraissa / In Bed with Santa (SE 1999, D: Kjell Sundvall, SC: Monica Rolfner) – original screenplay by Monica Rolfner, Eva Callenbo and Harald Hamrell. DP: Juice Huhtala. AD: Tiina Paavilainen. Cost: Sanja Kangas. Makeup: Anne Airaksinen. M: Joel Melasniemi. S: Jyrki Rahkonen. ED: Antti Tuomikoski.
    C: Elena Leeve (Outi), Antti Luusuaniemi (Janne), Mikko Leppilampi (Paavo), Maria Ylipää (Riitta), Aku Hirviniemi (Oskari), Lotta Lindroos (Eeva), Iikka Forss (Eki), Saara Kotkaniemi (Paula), Pirkko Mannola (Kyllikki), Pihla Maalismaa (Marika), Kari Ketonen (Matias), Krisse Salminen (Helena), Saimi Kahri (Janette), Eeti Salovuori (Riku), Annikki Hirviniemi (Liisa-Lotta), Sara Pehrsson (Johanna), Matilda Pirttikangas (Elina), Oscar Kalenius (Taneli), Wanda Dubiel (Karin), Leon Johannes Mingas (Junior), Alen Nsambu (Nelson).
    94 min.
    Premiere: 25 Oct 2019 – distributed by SF Studios.
    Vimeo link viewed for Jussi Awards, on a 4K tv screen at home, 11 March 2020.

Official introduction: "The new comedy Täydellinen joulu by the director of the successful Varasto (The Storage) movies is a tale of the all time extended family Christmas. It is a comedy about ex-partners, new partners, relationships, families, traditions and breaking traditions."

"A Christmas to remember awaits when the gentle powerhouse Outi (Elena Leeve) decides to celebrate by inviting all her three ex-husbands, their mutual children and the men's new companions with their new children. Although Outi's current husband Janne (Antti Luusuaniemi) rejects the plan outright, this year's Christmas table overflows with new, old and freshly exposed family knots".

"The schnapps drinks, the rosolli salads and other Christmas traditions are turned upside down when the guests set out to remember times shared with the lady of the evening. A high point is a speech given by Outi in which she declares that she is about to give Janne the greatest of gifts: she is pregnant. Janne's reaction is not exactly what one might have expected, and there is a further twist which needs to be processed with many others, even involving the Santa Claus next door.
" (Official introduction, my translation).

AA: The title Täydellinen joulu [The Perfect Christmas] is of course ironic. On display is a human catastrophe.

Taru Mäkelä is an experienced director of both distinguished documentaries (David, the saga of Finnish Jews in WWII) and hit comedies. It's rare to possess a talent in both.

Technically, The Perfect Christmas is perfect: a well-made screenplay (from a Swedish hit original), a wonderful cast and a proper rhythm for the artificial approach necessary in a comedy like this. A tempo fast enough to forget thinking.

The history of film comedy started with catastrophe comedies in which the room – the house – the community – the world perished utterly. There is some external catastrophe here, too, but what really gets destroyed is the family spirit, supposedly the main value in celebrating Christmas.

It is impossible to tell how intentional Outi's action is when she invites, without telling her husband, all her ex-husbands with their families to celebrate Christmas together – and when she in her Christmas speech makes the surprise announcement that she is pregnant. It is a very special surprise for the husband, because everybody except Outi knows that he has sterilized himself.

This is an externally bright and internally horrific story: there is no love in the relationships. Remarkably, the children see this, and they condemn their parents and everything they stand for.

The Perfect Christmas provides fresh evidence for a deep trend in Finnish culture: matriarchy. Ostensibly Finland is a patriarchy, in reality, often a matriarchy. There are two families living as neighbours. In both the husband is evicted by Queen Bee.

The movie also provides contributions to the theme of the harridan in Finnish cinema. The cinematic harridan has been with us since the early days (e.g. in Aleksis Kivi and Juha adaptations) but there has been a special revival in the new millennium. The revival may be unintentional and even unconscious, but probably not in this movie.

Diva of Finland

FI 2019. PC: Silva Mysterium Oy / Evil Doghouse Productions AS. P: Mika Ritalahti, Niko Ritalahti. Co-P: Egil Ødegård.
    D+SC: Maria Veijalainen. DP: Joonas Pulkkanen. AD: Juha-Matti Toppinen. Cost: Venla Korvenmaa. M: Risto Ylihärsilä. S: Toni Teivaala. ED: Katja Pällijeff.
    C: Suvi-Tuuli Teerinkoski (Henna), Linda Manelius (Silja), Jutta Myllykoski (Iris), Sonja Sippala (Ii), Mikko Neuvonen (Sami), Miko Kontturi (Ilipo), Janica Keränen (Janna), Merja Pietilä (Henna's mother), Aki Pelkonen (Henna's father), Aatu Kärkkäinen (Henkka), Meri Nenonen (Silja's mother), Lauri Tilkanen (Herman Blade).
    Loc: Pudasjärvi, Oulu, Kempele, Haukipudas.
    Premiere: 4 Oct 2019 in Oulu - distributor: SF Studios.
    Vimeo link viewed for Jussi Awards, on a 4K tv screen at home, 11 March 2020.

Official presentation: "Diva of Finland is a drama comedy about friendship and the pursuit of popularity."

"Henna (Suvi-Tuuli Teerinkoski), who is generally agreed to have talent, expects to move from her little community soon after the matriculation examination. On Henna's birthday she acquires a new neighbour, Silja (Linda Manelius), who charms everybody with her beauty and talent. Henna begins to follow Silja both in social media and real life, and envy blinds her for a moment. The movie is a tale about friendship, competition and overcoming it. The director-screenwriter is Maria Veijalainen (formerly Mononen) well known for her award winning short films
". (Official presentation, my translation)

AA: Diva of Finland, the debut feature film by Maria Veijalainen, tells about young women from Pudasjärvi, next to Oulu, to the south from Lapland.

It's about ambition and overcoming the poison of envy. It's about fun and partying during the last school year before the student degree.

The film is also a satire of television's song contests. Henna and her best friend Silja at turns take it seriously and spoof it. Making rap music videos for YouTube is a major form of self-expression.

It's a backwoods community in where Henna used to be the star. Along comes Silja from Vantaa, Metropolitan Helsinki area, and now everybody is interested only in this bright and popular new girl.

On a school observation trek Henna slips, hurts her eyes and has to wear an eyemask and shades. Nevertheless she manages to spike Silja's drink with an overdose of vodka and manipulate a boy who is dating someone else to land in bed with her. At once Silja's reputation is destroyed and she is hated and bullied by everybody. It goes too far, and it's time for a volte-face.

There is final turning-point when the Diva of Finland auditions come to Oulu, the nearest city.

A fresh look into contemporary life and eternal themes of growing up by the director Maija Veijalainen and the stars Suvi-Tuuli Teerinkoski and Silja Manelius.

Veeran maaginen elämä / The Magic Life of V

FI/DK/BG 2019. PC: Making Movies Oy / Kirstine Barfod Film / Soul Food. P: Kaarle Aho, Kai Nordberg.
    D: Tonislav Hristov. SC: Tonislav Hristov, Kaarle Aho. Cin: Alexander Stanishev. M: Petar Dundakov. S: Jacques Pedersen. ED: Anne Jünemann, Tonislav Hristov. Larp expert: Mike Pohjola.
    Featuring: Veera Lapinkoski, Ville Oksanen, Asta Tikkanen, Slava Doycheva, Heikki Oksanen, Mike Pohjola, Mikael Saarinen.
    Loc: Poland, Bulgaria, Finland.
    87 min
    Premiere: 23 Aug 2019 - distribution: Pirkanmaan Elokuvakeskus r.y.
    Vimeo link viewed for Jussi Awards, on a 4K tv screen at home, 11 March 2020.

Official introduction: "Veera, 25, tries to cope with her childhood traumas. She visits therapy. It helps but not enough. She participates in LARP events. In LARP events (live action role-playing games) the participants acquire new personae, strive to assume the story and the values of their fictional characters, perform tasks in fictional locations in constant interaction with other characters."

"While larping Veera becomes V. V can perform tasks that Veera is unable to achieve. And among larpers Veera (and V) finds friends and soulmates such as all young people long for".

"Veera has not met her father in 14 years. Father drank and abused his children until mother threw him out".

"Veera has a brother, Ville, 29, who is mentally handicapped. Ville meets father every now and then, and they have started to drink together. Ville is also a victim of bullying. Usually the bullies are people who do not realize that Ville is handicapped."

"Veera tries to help her brother also by guiding him to larp. Most of all she tries to steer the magic of larping to beat her fears and the ghosts of her past. She wants to confront her father".

"The battle to overcome childhood trauma is a physical effort and an arduous mental challenge for a young person whose childhood has been broken by a parent's alcoholism and violence. Incredibly numerous young people live alone trying to cope with the exhaustion caused by traumata without channels to face or tools to cope with childhood fears and experiences of threat."

"The Magic Life of V offers a means to access young people for whose a complete turn in life is the best solution. Veera's strong willpower to survive and skill to find means to deal with traumata can be an empowering experience. The movie is an authentic testimony on overcoming trauma and how you don't have to do it alone. Rebuilding faith in other people is possible."

A word from the director:

"I have always been interested in the border between fact and fiction. To which extent are the persons of documentary films real? To which extent do they play roles which they experience as real? When I met Veera I saw at once the cinematic and philosophic potential of the subject. For once I was able to move freely between fact and fiction without ethical problems because it is the very subject of the movie: the characters do so themselves to survive." - Tonislav Hristov

AA: The Magic Life of V, Tonislav Hristov's most ambitious film to date, is an enterprising, creative and daring experiment bringing together various disparate elements which do make sense when they are put together.

We have a live action role play (LARP) community in which Veera belongs and which has events in an ancient castle in Poland and battlegrounds in Bulgaria.

We have a history of family violence: Veera's father is an alcoholist who has neglected and abused his family.

Veera has experienced what we in Finland call "lasinen lapsuus", "a childhood of glass". In a child's eyes alcoholic parents turn into monsters.

Veera has also a brother with disability: at age one the brother had high fever and received permanent brain damage. Veera takes care of him and tries to protect him from the father whom the brother visits from time to time.

In the LARP community Veera's best friend gives her a confession of coming out as a Lesbian, having lived all her life in a lie.

The Magic Life of V is a tale of the therapeutic possibilities of role playing. Role playing can be a way to face even the hardest of truths.

To add to the Pirandellian complexity: this is officially a documentary film, but the characters act their roles as themselves. These situations could not have been recorded via a candid camera. There is even a father - daughter encounter.

I am reminded of classic titles of social psychology such as Erving Goffman's The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life and Eric Berne's Games People Play.

Äiti / A Mother (2019)

Samppa Batal: Äiti / A Mother, starring Jaana Saarinen.

FI 2019. PC: Cinemanifest / Character House Oy. P: Krista Hannula, Maarit Laaksoharju, Miikka Pakarinen.
    D: Samppa Batal. SC: Samppa Batal, Krista Hannula. DP: Miikka Pakarinen. AD: Matias Muoniovaara. Cost: Timjami Varamäki. Makeup: Elisa Sakki. M: Antti L. S. Ikonen. S: Lari Rissanen. ED: Tuomas Kohtamäki.
    C: Jaana Saarinen (Eeva), Matti Pajulahti (Kalle), Jonathan Hutchings (Hasse), Matti Onnismaa ("the best detective in Finland"), Helmi-Leena Nummela (Maria), Liina Valtonen (young Maria), Kaisla Kaltiokallio (toddler Maria), Eeva Kilpi (baby Maria), Pekka Lehtosaari (hotel janitor), Satu Silvo (desk clerk).
    91 min
    Premiere: 10 May 2019 - distribution: Black Lion Pictures Oy.
    Vimeo link viewed for Jussi Awards, on a 4K tv screen at home, 11 March 2020.

Official presentation: "Having been released to freedom after a long prison sentence Eeva (Jaana Saarinen) returns to her old home grounds carrying just a shoulder bag, a mobile phone and the clothes she wears. She would like to find her grown-up daughter, but the stagnated village sends a clear message that she is not welcome back. There is an unexpected turn in the desperate quest when a helping hand emerges from a yellow van". Official presentation (my translation).

AA: An independent film made on a largely pro bono basis, with a "do it yourself" approach.

It's based on a classic movie concept: the protagonist returns home after a long prison sentence and does not find herself welcome. Why does she even return? Because of her daughter whom she has not seen during all these years.

It's a story full of mysteries but little by little we can piece together a hypothesis of what has probably happened. Eeva has married up, to one of the best families. But her husband has turned out to be an alcoholist / capable of domestic violence / and even child abuse. Eeva has killed her husband and been sentenced to imprisonment. The elite family has rejected all arguments favourable to Eeva and engaged Big Law to twist a sentence that best suits them and leaves the facade intact.

Jaana Saarinen, a popular actress who has been active since her childhood in the early 1960s, at last gets a big, demanding and ambitious leading role. In the beginning there is a bit of a one note approach to the traumatized Eeva, but she grows with the more versatile dimensions of the role towards a shocking turning-point and a game-changing finale.

The film has been shot in a small community in Southern Finland, among Swedish speaking families. It might be Lohja.

Thanks to the austere production resources the film has not had to go through the dispiriting mangle of gatekeeper funding organizations. The premises are familiar, but the approach is fresh and unexpected in the second feature film directed by Samppa Batal.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Vedenneito / Maiden of the Lake

FI 2019. PC: Citizen Jane Productions Oy. P: Elina Pohjola, Leila Lyytikäinen.
    A nature documentary.
    D+SC: Petteri Saario. Cinematography and underwater cinematography: Petteri Saario. Aerial cinematography and gimbal: Antti Saario. M: Markku Kanerva. S: Joonatan Hietanen. ED: Matti Näränen.
    Featuring: Emika Saario, Antti Saario.
    Loc: Lake Saimaa.
    72 min
    Premiere: 5 April 2019 – distributed by Citizen Jane Productions Oy.
    Vimeo link viewed for Jussi Awards, on a 4K tv screen at home, 10 March 2020.

Official presentation: "Maiden of the Lake tells about the fun moments 13-year-old Emika and her cousin Antti have at a lake during all four seasons, surrounded by fascinating nature. Together the cousins roam in an untouched forest, swim, fish and pick bilberries. In the winter they sleep on the frozen lake, under the northern lights. In the spring they encounter the world’s rarest seal, the Saimaa ringed seal. Maiden of the Lake is a breathtakingly beautiful nature story for the whole family."
    Director's word: "Maiden of the Lake offers the viewers characters they can identify themselves with and a chance to feel nature. When Emika and Antti do all kinds of exciting things in nature, I want the viewers to feel that they can also go to nature and experience something memorable. I want to inspire and encourage children and parents to go out and have an adventure in nature!" Official presentation

AA: Straight Finnish nature documentaries like The Tale of the Forest and The Tale of the Lake are blockbusters in our country, despite a constant access on television to world-class nature documentaries such as the ones by David Attenborough.

We are living in an age of an imminent catastrophe of the nature and a golden age of nature films. This is a key paradox of the remarkable phenomenon. But we can hope that the great popular success of these beloved films translates into action to save the world. Until then we are photographing what we are destroying.

Vedenneito / Maiden of the Lake capitalizes on the popularity of the nature films, and it has been photographed in a way that certainly looks best on the cinema screen.

Aerial photography is ubiquitous in contemporary cinema, and as a fan of the Olympian master shots of Lang and Mizoguchi I cannot get enough of it. Vedenneito / Maiden of the Lake uses all field sizes in an expressive way, from extreme long shots (see the second image above) to extreme close-ups.

There is no plot, or perhaps just an excuse for a plot: the two young protagonists would like for once in their lives to spot the ultra-rare Saimaa ringed seal in its natural habitat. They barely manage that, but the quest is worth the effort.

The film is simple and lovely.

Baby Jane

Katja Gauriloff: Baby Jane. Roosa Söderholm as Jonna aka Baby Jane.

FI 2019. PC: Oktober Oy. P: Satu Majava, Joonas Berghäll. EX: Sofi Oksanen, Tor Jonasson.
    D: Katja Gauriloff. SC: Veera Tyhtilä, Katja Gauriloff – based on the novel by Sofi Oksanen (2005). DP: Heikki Färm. AD: Sattva-Hanna Toiviainen. Cost: Tiina Wilén. Makeup: Marjut Samulin. M: Salla Luhtala. ED: Hanna Kuirinlahti. S: Olli Huhtanen.
    C: Roosa Söderholm (Jonna), Maria Ylipää (Piki), Nelly Kärkkäinen (Bossa), Lauri Tilkanen (Joonatan), Niko Saarela (Eero), Peter Pihlström (Kari), Niina Hosiasluoma (Stuba).
    Loc: Helsinki (around the Sörnäisten Kurvi area).
    90 min.
    Premiere: 8 March 2019 – distributed by Future Film Oy.
    Vimeo link viewed for Jussi Awards, on a 4K tv screen at home, 10 March 2020.

Official synopsis: "Jonna (Roosa Söderholm), a small town girl enters Helsinki for study and excitement. With innocent glee Jonna engages in the throb of the city until one dangerous night she finds herself in a threatening situation. Emerges a saviour: Piki (Maria Ylipää), a wonderful woman whose self-assured manner bewitches Jonna. Jonna worships her saviour, Piki ties her rope around her, and a passionate love affair starts".

AA: Baby Jane, based on a novel by Sofi Oksanen, is the first fiction film of Katja Gauriloff. However, Gauriloff's masterpiece, Kaisa's Enchanted Forest, already forayed deep beyond documentary reality. Its documentary aspects were stranger than fiction, but it also grew into a shaman experience of ancient Sami pantheism, the visionary (the truest) dimension of the tale conveyed via animation.

Baby Jane is a variation of the classical "bright lights, big city / went to my baby's head" tale. A small town girl (Roosa Söderholm) gets drawn into the vortex of Helsinki partying and a maelstrom of sexual identity. She has been following the heterosexual trail, but a fascinating queen of the night, Piki (Maria Ylipää) awakens her passion to love between women.

Piki seems the quintessence of cool, but gradually it turns out that in many ways she is the more vulnerable of the two, her despair covered under an almost impenetrable mask.

Baby Jane could have become a superficial story about a certain scene in Helsinki, but its approach to mental health issues and self-destructive behaviour is sincere, illuminating and deeply felt.

It's a stark story, eloquently photographed by Heikki Färm and powerfully interpreted by the leading actresses. The two contrasting worlds of Piki and Baby Jane are given totally different visual expressions.

Aurora (2019)

Mimosa Willamo in the title role: the life of the party in the arctic ghetto.

FI 2019. PC: Dionysos Films Oy. P: Max Malka. EX: Riina Hyytiä.
    D+SC: Miia Tervo. DP: Arsen Sarkisiants. AD: Kari Kankaanpää. Cost: Jouni Mervas. Makeup: Salla Yli-Luopa. M: Lau Nau. S: Micke Nyström. ED: Antti Reikko.
    C: Mimosa Willamo (Aurora), Amir Escandari (Darian), Elà Yildirim (Azar), Oona Airola (Kinky), Miitta Sorvali (Liisa), Ria Kataja (Tiina), Chike Ohanwe (Juha), Hannu-Pekka Björkman (Juha), Pamela Tola (Ulla).
    Loc: Rovaniemi (Lapland, Finland).
    104 min
    Premiere: 25 Jan 2019 - distributor: Oy Nordisk Film Ab.
    Festival premiere: 25 Jan 2019 Göteborg Film Festival, opening gala.
    Vimeo link viewed for Jussi Awards, on a 4K tv screen at home, 10 March 2020.

Official presentation: "One night at a hot-dog stand in Finnish Lapland, a commitment-phobic party animal, Aurora, meets Iranian Darian. Darian suddenly asks her to marry him. Darian needs to marry a Finnish woman to get an asylum for himself and his daughter. Aurora turns him down, as she is busy working as a nail technician and plans to move to Norway, away from her shit life. However, after meeting his sweet daughter, Aurora agrees to help him. As Aurora introduces numerous women to Darian, the two of them grow close. When the perfect wife candidate comes along, Darian and Aurora are faced with a difficult choice: pretend to be happy or to finally stop running."

"Aurora has won several prizes at festivals since its release in early 2019. It was Finland´s entry for the prestigious Nordic Council Film Prize.

HB in Midnight Sun Film Festival (MSFF): "The fresh new voice of Finnish cinema, Miia Tervo, is a genuine filmmaker who writes her own scripts. Aurora is more than the sum of its story and characters. It’s a fluffy romantic comedy with a message that bounces around but trusts the viewer. It is irritating, tickling and abrupt. Aurora gains speed with obscenities but evolves into a poetry of images. Scenes are filmed at funny angles. The viewers are kept on their toes. The movie develops from impressionistic glimpses into a solid portrait of a woman finding her path."

"Amir Escandari is an immigrant who must find a Finnish partner to marry so that his daughter can stay in Finland. Beautician Aurora dives deep into her regular party lifestyle before red flags start flying. Mimosa Willamo as Aurora oozes glamour against a backdrop of snow, smoke and fumes, almost like the super blonde Gena Rowlands, and even their survival stories bear resemblance. Miia Tervo skilfully carries the storylines that randomly encounter, rub together and smooth each other out." (HB, MSFF)

AA: The name Aurora may lead us to associations about Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Finland is a distant land, but even in Finland Lapland has connotations of Ultima Thule, a faraway place.


Here's another film that I should absolutely have seen a year ago already, but only every 35 years we move to a new cinema. It was not only that there was little time for anything else. I could have seen Aurora, but I could not have given it the attention it deserves. For many it was the film of the year and even the film of the decade. I am happy to sign up as a Miia Tervo fan, too, but I have liked Lumikko and Santra and the Talking Trees even more, and The Trial / It's All Right was for me the film of the year in world cinema in 2019.

Aurora is an engaging entry into the newly popular subgenre of Lapland films, the range of which goes from the Napapiirin sankarit [Heroes of the Polar Circle] comedy trilogy to the films by the Sami filmmaker Katja Gauriloff (Kaisa's Enchanted Forest). Miia Tervo is a born Laplander, and she brings a new and original voice also to this Bildungsroman of a young woman.

In Lapland forces of nature are extreme and people are spontaneous and unaffected. In the circumstances of kaamos (the 24-hour darkness in midwinter) hard partying is a natural reflex, and Aurora is the "life of the party" in the Arctic ghetto. More than that, she is compared with a typhoon, a hurricane, and other chaotic phenomena. Her father is an alcoholist, and during the film they are evicted.

During yet another night of hard partying Aurora meets an Iranian refugee, Darian, on the hot dog stand. He needs a green card, and only by marriage can that be achieved. Aurora has firm plans about moving to Norway (even further north, but because of the Gulf Stream the sea there is open all year). Having met Darian's 8-year old daughter she changes her mind. "I wanted to sublimate my own experiences of lacking prospects, shame and worthlessness into warm humour", writes Miia Tervo.

Among other things, Aurora is a film about racism, and the surprise twist of the movie is that the most terrible racist is the black Juha, a native Finn. It is also about ageism and how the human tornado Aurora revitalizes the ageing Liisa. Having become evicted Aurora gets a job as a live-in nurse to Liisa. The shocking solution turns out perfectly.

Tuntematon mestari / One Last Deal

Heikki Nousiainen as the veteran art dealer.

FI 2019. PC: Making Movies Oy. P: Kai Nordberg, Kaarle Aho.
    D: Klaus Härö. SC: Anna Heinämaa. DP: Tuomo Hutri. AD: Kaisa Mäkinen. Cost: Sari Suominen. Makeup: Mari Vaalasranta. M: Matti Bye. S: Kirka Sainio. ED: Benjamin Mercer.
    C: Heikki Nousiainen (Olavi), Pirjo Lonka (Lea), Amos Brotherus (Otto), Stefan Sauk (Albert Johnson), Pertti Sveholm (Patu), Jakob Öhrman (Dick Sundell).
    Loc: Helsinki (largely around Ekbergs Café, Bulevarden 9).
    95 min
    In Finnish and some Swedish.
    Premiere: 4 Jan 2019 - distributor: Oy Nordisk Film Ab.
    Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF): 7 Sep 2019.
    Vimeo link viewed for Jussi Awards, on a 4K tv screen at home, 10 March 2020.

Steve Gravestock (TIFF Toronto International Film Festival, 2019): "An aging art dealer — left behind by the corporatization of his industry and estranged from his family — hopes an undervalued icon will turn his fortunes around, in the latest from veteran Finnish director Klaus Härö."

"Veteran Finnish filmmaker Klaus Härö (Mother of Mine) returns to the Festival with One Last Deal, about an aging art dealer whose last shot at the big time coincides with his last chance to reconnect with his estranged daughter and grandson."

"An expert at complicated emotional dilemmas, Härö specializes in contradictory characters whose pride and obsessions battle with their better angels. But few of Härö’s creations are as divided as Olavi (Heikki Nousiainen, in a great hangdog performance), a work-obsessed dealer left behind by an industry favouring larger corporate conglomerates. There, algorithms have replaced instinct and knowledge about art history, leading the dealers near his dilapidated, overcrowded shop to miss what may be an obscure icon from a major Russian painter."

"Getting the icon will require a lot of research and a little help, which he unexpectedly receives from his grandson, Otto. As Olavi schools the kid in how to navigate a cutthroat industry and research things you just can’t find via Google, he reconnects with his daughter, Lea, and rediscovers the family he’s missed. The big question, however, is whether he’ll sacrifice everything for that one last score."

"Shot using a muted colour scheme, reflecting the look of Olavi’s rundown shop and the masterpieces he trades in, One Last Deal is a beautifully scaled and exquisitely honest tearjerker about the values we forget when we ignore the past — and what we lose when we become consumed by it.
" Steve Gravestock (TIFF Toronto International Film Festival, 2019)

AA: I saw this impressive film for the first time only now. It premiered last year just when we were at our busiest moving out of Cinema Orion and launching Kino Regina.

Good things are worth waiting for. Klaus Härö knows to value a strong script, and this film is based on another excellent screenplay from Anna Heinämaa, sculptor, author and screenwriter. It is a well made play, obeying the classical storytelling virtues. It gives a lot to think about family affairs and the art market.

With the cinematographer Tuomo Hutri the director brings to the movie a luminous visual approach. The lighting registers eloquently seasons of the year and times of the day from morning till night. This sense emphasizes major themes of the movie. The protagonist's time is running out, and "the wind passes over him, and he is gone" (Psalm 103).

All his life Olavi has neglected his daughter Lea who has had a hard time raising her son Otto. The drive of the movie is comparable with the "last big caper" subgenre of the gangster film. The build-up of suspense is similar, and even the moral quicksand is comparable. The deepest suspense stems from the ethical dilemma.

One Last Deal is also a dramatization of the madness of the art market. An unsigned masterpiece is worth almost nothing. A signature would increase the market value tenfold. The answer to the mystery of the missing signature gives also something to think about art and spirituality.

There is a touch of melodrama in the characterization of the art brokers. It makes the drama stronger but may date this beautiful film a little bit.

The performances are eloquent, and Heikki Nousiainen is again at his best in a movie by Klaus Härö who cast the veteran actor in a career-changing role in Letters to Father Jacob.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Ei mitään hätää (Oikeusjuttu) / It's All Right (The Trial)

Miia Tervo: the short film Ei mitään hätää (It's All Right) is also known as Oikeusjuttu (The Trial) in the compendium film Tottumiskysymys (Force of Habit). Johannes Holopainen as the prosecutor and Lotta Kaihua as the rape victim seeking justice.

Tampere Film Festival (TFF) wrapped up on International Women's Day. Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin, from Tampere, gave a speech at the International Women's Day event in the United Nations in New York City. Only three years ago she was with us at the TFF where the popular documentary film Taking the Floor (Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen, 2017), starring her, was screened in the opening gala. Watching her matter-of-fact deadpan as the chair of the Tampere City Council, bringing to a finish a 110-year-old debate of a tram line, it was easy to predict that we might be hearing more about her. This year TFF programmed the remarkable feminist short film anthology One-Off Incident, two selections from which were also screened in the competition series: Play Rape by Anna Paavilainen and The Trial by Miia Tervo.


At Tampere Film Festival I saw for the third time Miia Tervo's Ei mitään hätää / It's All Right (so called in the short film anthology Yksittäistapaus / One-Off Incident), also known as Oikeusjuttu / The Trial in the compendium film Tottumiskysymys / Force of Habit. It was my film of the year 2019 in the annual polls in which I participated. Each time it feels stronger. It's All Right was the only film which made me cry in this year's National Competition in Tampere.

There are Kafkaesque dimensions in this account of a trial which is based on Miia Tervo's multi-year research on rape cases. Instead of justice, there is an absurd, nightmarish travesty. A brutal, violent crime has taken place, but the case is about to disappear into the labyrinthine maze of the judicial system. The process is so prolonged and humiliating that in effect it is the victim who is being punished.

The titles are of course ironic. "It's All Right" (not). "One-Off Incident" (not). Maybe even the title "The Trial" should be put into quotation marks. Let's also register the wordplay and the double meaning in the English title "It's All Right".

The films of the One-Off Incident project are not Lehrstücke, but there is a Brechtian dimension. It's All Right is based less on identification than on the distancing effect. The horrible case stirs up outrage. Even more significantly it makes us think.

Miia Tervo avoids straightforward advocacy. Instead, she employs comedy, even farce, in the tragedy. In his first case, the rookie prosecutor makes one blunder after another, fumbling with his briefcase, letting documents fall on the floor, and soiling them with his takeaway lunch, but as interpreted by Johannes Holopainen, the prosecutor never loses dignity. The victim, played by Lotta Kaihua, suffers an ordeal in which basic conditions are not respected such as separate entrances and a functioning microphone.

The visual concept of the film is stark. Shot on location at the Helsinki Court House in Salmisaari, the modernist architecture by Väinö Vähäkallio is put to efficient use, including special elements such as the security check: the transillumination for smuggled weapons in the main lobby, with its associations to modern air travel from which all glory was stripped after 11 September 2001. We are transferred to a special zone like in high surrealism ("when Hutter crossed the bridge, the phantoms emerged to receive him"). Unconsciously we may even be reminded of the anterooms of the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

In the vision of Miia Tervo and her DP Päivi Kettunen the Helsinki Court House appears as a hall of mirrors which evokes the glass and mirror artworks of Gerhard Richter. The multiple reflections convey a sense of deep alienation in this hall of injustice.

More than that, these reflections are also a visual expression of the movie's deep drive. The film itself is a telescope which leads us to observe a wider reality: sexual violence in society at large, rampant and largely unpunished, for reasons that this film helps us understand. It also illuminates the history of sexual violence dating back to classical Antiquity and all periods of slavery, serfdom and subordination in which most people were fair game for sexual abuse. "Might is right" was the primitive human condition before the introduction of justice.

It's All Right reminds us that the primitive condition never disappeared and asks big questions about the letter of the law and the spirit of justice. Miia Tervo's film makes us think – that we must change the world.

Having heard of this film a Californian friend sent me a link to an article by Angelina Chapin in Huffpost (24 Feb 2020) reflecting the Weinstein trial: " The Weinstein Verdict Is a Complicated Win For Survivors. This verdict is empowering but won’t fix a broken system. "

Gerhard Richter: “Kartenhaus (5 Scheiben),” “House of Cards (5 Panes),” (2020), a new glass sculpture at Met Breuer, 945 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York. "Gerhard Richter: Painting After All", through July 5, 2020. Credit: Charlie Rubin for The New York Times, 5 March 2020.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Tampere Film Festival 2020: National Competition 9

Tommi Seitajoki: Explosionen av en badring / The Explosion of a Swimming Ring with Alma Pöysti and Elmer Bäck as a married couple and Elwa Höglund as their little daughter with a flamingo swimming ring.

National Competition 9
Tampere International Film Festival (TFF)
Plevna 5, Tampere, 6 March 2020.
In Swedish.
Q&A with Tommi Seitajoki, Sevgi Eker, Heli Huovinen, Niina Suominen, Teemu Nikki, Minna Rainio and Mark Roberts. Present in the screening was also Virke Lehtinen.


Tommi Seitajoki | Finland 2019 | Fiction | 11 min

TFF: "The dissolution of a family in 10 minutes."

"Perheen hajoaminen 10 minuutissa." TFF

AA: A marriage inferno in spa paradise, Alma Pöysti and Elmer Bäck giving us the full Ibsen - Strindberg treatment.

Pilvi Takala: If Your Heart Wants It (Remix). Slush 2018 at Messukeskus Helsinki.


Pilvi Takala | Finland 2020 | Experimental, Documentary | 16 min

TFF: "Taking place annually in Helsinki, SLUSH is a three-day super event that aims to invigorate the tech-startup community by bringing together entrepreneurs with venture capitalists in a party-like environment. If your heart wants it is grounded in research Takala conducted at SLUSH 2018. Together with an interdisciplinary team and camera crew, they fabricated a startup in order to gain entry."

"Vuosittain Helsingissä järjestettävä SLUSH on kolmipäiväinen supertapahtuma, joka pyrkii elävöittämään teknologia-alan startup-yhteisöä saattamalla yrittäjät ja sijoittajat yhteen juhlien kaltaisessa ympäristössä. If your heart wants it perustuu tutkimukseen, jonka Takala toteutti SLUSHissa 2018." TFF

AA: After a marriage tragedy in a spa paradise, a contemporary satire at the start-up paradise Slush at Messukeskus Helsinki. An image of our times. Perhaps slightly one-sided?

Sevgi Eker: 49 Years from the House on the Left. A journey into darkness.


Sevgi Eker | Finland, Turkey 2019 | Fiction | 8 min

TFF: "An uninvited return."

"Kutsumaton paluu." TFF

AA: The return of the repressed. Experimental, shot in Turkey, a journey into darkness.

Heli Huovinen: Kuobžâ já mun / The Bear and I. A totem animal of fear and awe.


Heli Huovinen | Finland 2019 | Animation | 3 min

TFF: "The bear has always been significant to Inari Sámi people. It’s both, most honoured and feared of all animals. This dreamy story paints a picture of a relationship between a girl and a bear, together with poetry, drawing and traditional Inari Sámi vocal music."

"Karhu on aina ollut tärkeä inarinsaamelaisille. Se on sekä kunnioitetuin että pelätyin kaikista eläimistä. Unenomainen tarina maalaa kuvan tytön ja karhun välisestä suhteesta käyttäen runoutta, piirroksia ja perinteistä inarinsaamelaista laulumusiikkia." TFF

AA: A dreamlike animated vision, charcoal, watercolour, reduced, identifying with the totem animal of the bear in Inari Sami imagery.

Virke Lehtinen: La Pierre du mariage.


Virke Lehtinen | Finland, France 2019 | Fiction | 10 min

TFF: "An unlucky adventurer had crossed nine thousand times a dangerous river of eighteen meters high rapids. A woman teaches him, that in the rapids water is not dangerous but the stones. This encounter changes his life."

"Epäonninen seikkailija oli ylittänyt yhdeksän tuhatta kertaa vaarallisen joen, jossa on 18 metrin kosket. Nyt nainen opettaa hänelle, että vesi ei ole vaarallinen, mutta kivet saattavat olla petolliset. Kohtaaminen muuttaa miehen elämän." TFF

AA: The New Wave veteran Virke Lehtinen at large in a suspenseful drama about finding gold buried in the rapids of a wild river. A drama told via vigorous action.

Niina Suominen: Mikä aika on? / What Time Is?


Niina Suominen | Finland 2020 | Experimental, Animation | 8 min

TFF: "The essence of our time under the magnifying glass.The goal was to create a visually interesting, intense, kaleidoscopically abundant work set together with the pioneering electric composition of Jukka Ruohomäki (b. 1947).The work was mainly produced on film.The work gives us a chance to reflect on the transient nature of time and the relationship of the viewer to the era of conflict we live in."

"Aikamme olemus luupin alla. Teoksen lähtökohta oli visuaalisesti kiinnostavan ja intensiivisen, kaleidoskooppimaisen runsaan kokonaisuuden luominen ja rytmittäminen yhteen säveltäjä Jukka Ruohomäen (s.1947) saman nimisen ääniteoksen kanssa. Sävellyksen äänimateriaali on toteutettu vuonna 1970 Erkki Kurenniemen suunnittelemalla DIMI-syntesoijalla. Teoksen filmimateriaali (16 mm) on ohjaajan itsensä kuvaamaa ja kehittämää, lukuun ottamatta sotakuvia, jotka ovat found footage -materiaalia. Mikä aika on? asettaa ajan kokemuksen pohdinnan keskiöön. Teoksen ihmishahmot ovat kiintopisteitä ajan kulumisen ja loppumisen pohdinnoille. Sotakuvat toimivat universaaleina symboleina, jotka heijastavat ihmisluonnossa kaikkina aikakausina ilmenevää väkivaltaa. Teoksen kautta on mahdollista pohtia ajan katoavaista olemusta sekä katsojan suhdetta konfliktien täyteiseen aikaan, jota elämme. Teos on toteutettu pääosin filmille." TFF

AA: A whirlwind compendium of the history of the experimental film, to the sound of an early electronic music computer, the DIMI.

Teemu Nikki: All Inclusive. A power bracelet makes all wishes come true. Even birds obey Kalervo (Lauri Maijala).


Teemu Nikki | Finland 2019 | Fiction | 15 min

TFF: "Kalervo has felt powerless all his life, unable to fight back, until Annukka—a woman who loves him—gives Kalervo a life altering gift. Like with many of director Nikki’s works, All Inclusive can be interpreted in many ways, but at the core it’s a film about power, love and change. If you could right the wrongs in your life, would you, and would you stop there?"

"Kalervo on aina tuntenut itsensä voimattomaksi, kykenemättömäksi vastarintaan, kunnes Annukka – nainen, joka rakastaa häntä – antaa mullistavan lahjan. Kuten monet ohjaaja Nikin töistä, All Inclusive voidaan tulkita monella tapaa, mutta pohjimmiltaan kyse on vallasta, rakkaudesta ja muutoksesta. Jos voisit korjata elämäsi vääryydet, tekisitkö sen – ja lopettaisitko siihen?" TFF

AA: Teemu Nikki's twisted world: views of dark satire, magical realism and deranged outrage, inventive, stylish and constantly surprising. This film belongs to a special current of the fantastique which also includes The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs. "Beware of what you wish because your wishes might come true".

Minna Rainio, Mark Roberts: To Teach a Bird to Fly. After All Inclusive, another film where people can make birds listen to them.


Minna Rainio, Mark Roberts | Finland 2020 | Documentary, Fiction | 24 min

TFF: "To Teach a Bird to Fly is an experimental docufiction film that explores bird extinction and climate change through a fictionalized story told from the perspective of the future. The film follows the Waldrapp project in Germany, where a young woman helps breed and hand-raise the birds. She teaches them to migrate by following a light aircraft across the Alps to their wintering grounds in Tuscany."

"To Teach a Bird To Fly on kokeellinen dokufiktio, joka tarkastelee lintujen sukupuuttoa ja ilmastonmuutosta tulevaisuuden näkökulmasta kerrotun fiktiivisen tarinan kautta. Elokuva seuraa saksalaista Waldrapp-projektia, jossa nuori nainen auttaa lintuja lisääntymään ja kasvattaa niitä. Hän opettaa linnut muuttamaan seuraamalla yleisilmailukonetta Alppien yli Toscanan talvehtimisalueille." TFF

AA: A docufiction about the ibis being rescued from the verge of extinction by humans who even need to teach them to migrate with the help of microlight air vehicles. Shot in Austria, Germany and Italy.

Tampere Film Festival 2020: National Competition 10

Risto-Pekka Blom: Kanarialintu / Canary. The tragedy of school bullying. Everybody looks the other way.

National Competition 10
Tampere International Film Festival (TFF)
Plevna 5, Tampere, 6 March 2020.
    Q &A with Antero Jokinen, Emma Louhivuori, Jan Ijäs, Miia Tervo and Sampsa Huttunen.


Risto-Pekka Blom | Finland 2020 | Experimental, Fiction | 5 min

TFF: "Every morning thousands of children go to school like canaries in a coal mine, measuring toxicity. The film deals with the chain of harassment and the way we all are broken in our own ways."

"Joka aamu tuhannet lapset lasketaan kouluun, kuin kanarialinnut kaivokseen testaamaan ilman myrkyllisyyttä. Elokuva kertoo kiusaamisen ketjuuntumisesta ja siitä kuinka olemme kaikki omalla tavallamme rikkinäisiä." TFF

AA: A high angle crane shot opens the film like in Lang and Mizoguchi. We witness traces of extreme cruelty and bullying by schoolmates. The solitude of the little girl, abandoned by father, abandoned by mother. She disappears into a path in the forest.

Nalle Sjöblad: Limbo with Martti Suosalo going down and Iida Kuningas going up, a bit like Jean and Miss Julie in August Strindberg's tragedy.


Nalle Sjöblad | Finland 2019 | Fiction | 10 min

TFF: "A quiet staircase of an ordinary office building. Two colleagues, Markku, an older accountant, and Eeva, younger HR manager are heading down the stairs, one after another. It turns out that earlier that day, Eeva has had to tell Markku that he has been fired from the company after many years. Markku is bitter and full of rage. Then something unordinary happens."

"Hiljainen porraskäytävä tavanomaisessa toimistorakennuksessa. Kaksi kollegaa, vanhempi kirjanpitäjä Markku ja nuorempi henkilöstöpäällikkö Eeva, kävelevät perätysten portaita alas. Käy ilmi, että aiemmin päivällä Eevan täytyi kertoa Markulle, että tämä on irtisanottu vuosien työsuhteen jälkeen. Markku on katkera ja täynnä raivoa. Sitten tapahtuu jotain epätavallista." TFF

AA:A contemporary rage of drama of an outsourced male veteran (Martti Suosalo) and the female human resource manager (Iida Kuningas) who has just fired her. They spit out a full register of contemporary outrage as they descend in an elevator and then go down an endless staircase in nightmare mode. From Nalle Sjöblad who gave us the brilliant Love & Anarchy Helsinki Film Festival trailer Mannerheim kuulee (2014) based on the meme on Der Untergang.

Emma Louhivuori: Hänen päänsä / Her Head. Her head is a cat.


Emma Louhivuori | Finland 2019 | Animation | 7 min

TFF: "A woman’s life is difficult because her head is a cat."

"Naisen elämä on hankalaa, koska hänen päänsä on kissa." TFF

AA: An animation based on line drawing, reduced in the extreme, black and white with colour spots, naivist. The story of a woman whose head is a cat.

Juulia Kalavainen: Checkpoint. The sentry and the little girl who fools him.


Juulia Kalavainen | Portugal 2019 | Fiction | 6 min

TFF: "A war-torn area. A solitary military checkpoint. A soldier stands guard alone, the only soul between two conflicting areas. Amidst the oppressive and desolate landscape, he discovers an unexpected connection with a little girl."

"Sodan repimä alue. Syrjäinen armeijan tarkastuspiste. Sotilas seisoo yksin vartiossa, ainoana sieluna kahden vastakkaisen alueen välissä. Pakahduttavan, aution maiseman keskellä hän löytää odottamattoman yhteyden pikkutytön kanssa."

AA: A live action drama vignette about a little girl who fools a military man on guard by inviting him to a bout of football.

Jan Ijäs: Waste No. 4 New York, New York. An epic of garbage, the biggest manmade monument in history.


Jan Ijäs | Finland 2019 | Experimental, Documentary | 20 min

TFF: "Waste no. 4 New York, New York revisits the history of the City in twenty minutes through twelve cemeteries and one landfill. The short documentary is the fourth, independent episode from the ten-part Waste series."

"Waste no. 4 New York, New York kertaa New Yorkin historian 20 minuutissa kahdentoista hautausmaan ja yhden kaatopaikan välityksellä. Lyhytdokumentti on neljäs, itsenäinen osa kymmenosaista Waste-sarjaa."

AA: A new entry into Jan Ijäs's devastating series about waste. Potter's Field in New York is compared with the Great Wall of China, Egyptian grave monuments and the Sun Temple in Mexico: it beats them all. It is the finest portrait of Western civilization, built before the age of recycling, incorporating also the WTC twin towers. It is the garbage capital of humanity. Stunning. I have blogged twice about Waste No. 2 Wreck (2016).

Miia Tervo: Ei mitään hätää / It's All Right. A Kafkaesque trial: the first case of the prosecutor (Johannes Holopainen) is a brutal rape processed as mere routine. Shot on location at the Helsinki Court House in Salmisaari, modernist architecture by Väinö Vähäkallio.


Miia Tervo | Finland 2019 | Fiction | 17 min

TFF: "The young prosecutor Aleksi is unexpectedly called to his first trial, which is about rape. Aleksi represents Niina, who has waited for the trial for years. Aleksi has had way too little and Niina way too much time to prepare. Will the system give mercy to Aleksi and justice to Niina?"

"Aloitteleva syyttäjä Aleksi (Johannes Holopainen) joutuu yllättäen ensimmäiseen oikeudenkäyntiinsä, joka käsittelee raiskausta. Aleksi edustaa Niinaa (Lotta Kaihua), joka on odottanut käsittelyä jo vuosien ajan. Istunnon alkaessa Aleksilla on ollut liian vähän ja Niinalla aivan liian paljon valmistautumisaikaa. Antaako systeemi armoa Aleksille ja oikeutta Niinalle?" TFF

AA: I have blogged about Miia Tervo's masterpiece (my favourite film of the world cinema in 2019) in my entries on Tottumiskysymys and Yksittäistapaus.

Sampsa Huttunen: Toinen linja / Second Lane. Just when they have found the way to do something right with drug addicts the city of Helsinki calls the contract off. Toinen linja [Second Line] is a street in the district of Kallio in Helsinki, one of five lines that follow each other horizontally across the hill on top of which is the Kallio Church.


Sampsa Huttunen | Finland 2018 | Documentary | 29 min

TFF: "Second Lane is a story about drug addiction, living with it and fighting it. It is a documentary about people who use intravenous drugs and the professionals and peers working with those people. What happens when ‘Vinkki’, a social and healthcare counselling centre in Helsinki, closes its doors due to a lost contract."

"Toinen linja on tarina huumeriippuvuudesta, sen kanssa elämisestä ja sitä vastaan taistelemisesta. Se on dokumentti suonensisäisten huumeiden käyttäjistä ja ammattilaisista, jotka työskentelevät heidän parissaan. Miten käy, kun terveysneuvontapiste ”Vinkki” Helsingin keskustassa sulkee ovensa menetettyään sopimuksensa?" TFF

AA: A deeply moving film about a very special center for drug addicts, the Vinkki center which was forced to close after the city of Helsinki renewed the contract and switched to another service. Seven peer helpers soon died after the devastating event. There is no artistic approach in this film which is a straight documentary record, but it has a lot to say about the history of drug addiction, dating back to WWII years, and about possibilities to help those who are the most difficult to help.