Sunday, September 12, 2021

Näin pilvet kuolevat / How to Kill a Cloud

Tuija Halttunen: Näin pilvet kuolevat / How to Kill a Cloud (FI/DK 2021), a documentary on bringing rain to the desert on the Arabian peninsula, featuring Hannele Korhonen, Professor at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Näin pilvet kuolevat (2021)
Theme: Maailma palaa / The World Is Burning
Country: Finland, Denmark
Director: Tuija Halttunen
Screenplay: Tuija Halttunen
Starring: Hannele Korhonen
Production: Niina Virtanen, Pasi Hakkio, Ulrik Gutkin / Wacky Tie Films, Copenhagen Film Company
Duration: 80 min
    Language: Arabic, English, Finnish
    Subtitles: English
    Distribution: Pirkanmaan elokuvakeskus
    Cinematography: Ville Hakonen
    Editing: Jussi Sandhu
    Music: Kristian Eidnes Andersen
    Sound: Kristian Eidnes Andersen
Festival premiere: 22 March 2021 Copenhagen International Film Festival
Finnish premiere: 10 Sep 2021
To be screened and streamed also at Love & Anarchy The Helsinki Film Festival, 16-27 Sep 2021, theme: Maailma palaa / The World Is Burning
Viewed from a festival platform in a copy with English commentary on a 4K tv set at Midnight Sun Film Festival 2021 online, 19 June 2021

Finnish Film Catalogue: "The scientist Hannele Korhonen has one ultimate passion: to work at the top of the atmospheric science community in the world. She wishes to be totally independent and concentrate on her science while maintaining high ethical values."

"Her life changes dramatically when she is awarded a 1,5 million USD research grant by the United Arab Emirates. The funder expects her to find ways to make the migratory clouds above the UAE to rain on the country suffering of drought. The opportunity to get proper funding for such a special research is perfect. Gradually she learns that the aim of the funder is to benefit one country, not science at large. Korhonen’s enthusiasm morphs into an ethical dilemma and inner conflicts." Finnish Film Catalogue – facts and presentation copied from Love & Anarchy: Helsinki Film Festival (2011) catalogue

Cursed be, at once, the high ambition
Wherewith the mind itself deludes!
Cursed be the glare of apparition
That on the finer sense intrudes!

Cursed be the lying dream’s impression
Of name, and fame, and laurelled brow!
Cursed, all that flatters as possession,
As wife and child, as knave and plow!

Cursed Mammon be, when he with treasures
To restless action spurs our fate!
Cursed when, for soft, indulgent leisures,
He lays for us the pillows straight!

Cursed be the vine’s transcendent nectar,
— The highest favor Love lets fall!
Cursed, also, Hope!—cursed Faith, the spectre!
And cursed be Patience most of all!

From: Goethe: Faust, Part One (quoted in the film's motto)

AA: I remember Tuija Halttunen as the director of an unforgettable documentary feature film, Mielen tila (2007), shot at the Vanha Vaasa Hospital, the special mental hospital dedicated to criminal psychiatry. Amazingly, Halttunen was able to collaborate with three patients who have been diagnosed non compos mentis or are too dangerous or difficult to treat in regular hospitals. She earned the confidence of Dr. Markku Eronen, a respected expert in the field. The more one reflects on this sober film, the more incredible it seems that it was made at all.

In How to Kill a Cloud, Halttunen again finds a subject that borders on the inconceivable: how to bring rain clouds to the desert of the Arabian peninsula. We visit five star hotels at Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. (My mind wanders to Sex and the City 2, also shot there, perhaps of the clash of independent Western woman with archaic patriarchal conditions). Extreme wealth resides next to abject poverty and exploitation. Two thirds of the inhabitants are expatriates.

Where Mielen tila was shot in confined spaces of a prison, How to Kill a Cloud is a movie of infinity, displaying cosmic views of the sky, the clouds and the desert. We are not very far from the area where three great world religions were born. This movie belongs to the realm of the sublime. Besides gorgeous cinematography by Ville Hakonen, animation is employed to convey meteorology, just like in television weather forecasts.

Again there is a scientist, an authority of her field, in the center. Professor Hannele Korhonen. Because she is a woman, one of the tensions of the movie is confronting the world of a religious order in which women are marginalized and discriminated. The sharia law is enforced, and there is a separate queue for women.

How to Kill a Cloud poses huge questions about geo-engineering, rain enhancement science and cloud management. We engineer the atmosphere all the time. Clouds have been sown since 1946. Could a country claim ownership to a cloud? Water is power: true equality is randomness of power. When Donald Trump considered a nuclear weapon to annihilate a hurricane, the answer was that a hurricane equals a million atom bombs. Cloud-engineering has been used as a weapon since the Vietnam War. Silver iodine was utilized for weather modification to manipulate the monsoon season.

The issues in How to Kill a Cloud could not be more alarming, but cinematically and dramatically, the documentary lacks some sense of urgency.

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