Friday, August 28, 2020

Syksyn jälkeen saapuu kevät / Sygyzyn jälles tulou kevät / There Will Be Spring


Annika Grof: Syksyn jälkeen saapuu kevät / Sygyzyn jälles tulou kevät / There Will Be Spring (2020) with Asta Sveholm (Anni) and Turkka Mastomäki (Tauno Varis).

Efter höst följer vår
    FI 2020. Tarasow Films Oy. P: Joon Tervakari.
    D+SC: Annika Grof. Cin: Jarmo Kiuru. AD: Niclas Varius. Cost: Hanna Hirvonen. Makeup: Niina Niskanen. M: Ville Riippa. S: Mikko Mäkeläinen. ED: Joon Tervakari, Sari Antikainen. Script editor: Jari Olavi Rantala.
    C: Asta Sveholm (Anni), Turkka Mastomäki (Tauno Varis), Verneri Lilja (Manu), Sari Havas (Anni's mother), Timo Lavikainen (Matti), Hanna Lekander (Klaudia), Antti Raivio, Wanda Dubiel, Antti Virmavirta.
    Loc: Raseborg / Raasepori.
    Languages: Karelian and Finnish (the first fiction feature where the main language is Livvi-Karelian)
    74 min
    Premiere: 28 Aug 2020, distributor: Tarasow Films, with Finnish / Swedish subtitles n.c.
    Viewed at a press screening at Tennispalatsi 3, Helsinki, 18 Aug 2020. Obeying the 28 Aug 2020 media embargo.
    [Literal translation of the title: After Autumn Comes Spring. Perhaps a reference to the autumn of the great evacuation of 1944 and the spring after.]

AA: I know Annika Grof as the director of the outstanding and chilling documentary film about the Finnish Parliament: Liikkumavara, known as Within Limits by its official English title. The Finnish title is taken from a remark by Jörn Donner: "there is little leeway" for the Parliament after the decisions of the Government. Grof managed to penetrate the facade of power and illuminate something of the real motives beneath ingenious election campaign slogans developed by communication agencies. The simulated reality (or fake reality) fabricated by those agencies was also a theme in Tuukka Temonen's Presidentintekijät.

Syksyn jälkeen tulee kevät, Grof's second theatrical feature film, is a historical drama, but there is something in common with her debut feature. Also here we transcend a "dictionary of received ideas", and, finding ourselves in history, discover something about which we have never read in books or magazine articles. 

Syksyn jälkeen saapuu kevät brings to life a traumatic period of Finnish history. After our three different wars during WWII, Finland, a country with a population of less than four million, had to inhabit 400.000 evaquees from territories we lost to the USSR. As we know also from films such as Evakko, they were not welcome to their new surroundings. They spoke a different language (Karelian), they had a different religion (Orthodox), and their way of life was different in many ways.

Annika Grof tells a tale of Finnish racism, directed towards Karelian evaquees, who were defamed with the racist slur "ryssä" / "Russkie". But this is not a tale of "good Karelians" vs. "evil Finns", far from it.

Importantly, Grof lets her characters speak their native Livvi-Karelian, a Fenno-Ugric language barely understandable for Finns, which is why the film is double subtitled in Finland.

Grof tells a special story from the perspective of young Anni (Asta Sveholm) in the process of growing to womanhood. The devastation of Finland is mirrored in her young and passionate body and soul. In contrast to the strictly factual Liikkumavara, Syksyn jälkeen saapuu kevät is a poetic vision, a mind trip, evocative and powerful. The montage is fragmented, a mosaic of experiences, passions and conflicts.

As for the sensuality and the feeling for nature and animals, I am reminded of the best qualities of Rauni Mollberg in films such as Maa on syntinen laulu and Milka. But where Mollberg was an unreconstructed macho chauvinist, we have here a parallel Bildungsroman from a sympathetic female perspective.

Anni's is a life-affirming tale of the awakening of female sexuality, stronger that those of the males, who appear as representatives of repression, aggression and violence. In one of the most unusual turns in Finnish cinema, the male leading character Tauno Varis, who finds himself in a Sir Chatterley position due to war injuries, confronts the frustrated urges of both his wife and Anni. He finds an extraordinary solution to the quandary. Turkka Mastomäki portrays Varis with manly dignity.

But this film belongs to Asta Sveholm who conveys Anni's tragic saga with passion and humanity.

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