Cinema Features

A turning (Doc) Point for documentaries lovers

Of this year’s two featured countries, the
Danish series focuses on the rise of Danish cinema with the likes of this
year’s esteemed IDFA winners and films from the two generations of Leths, Jørgen, the celebrated film-making
father and Asger, his son – both of
who are also attending the festival this year – while the Viva México! series showcases the past and present of Mexican documentary
film with astounding new titles and rare treats.

Other series include a selection of
brand-new Finnish documentaries (see below), the Winners & Bestsellers series
for, well, bestsellers and winners, an all-encompassing retrospective to the
wonderfully colorful filmography of Oscar-winning (Fog of War) American documentarist, Errol Morris and a whole lot more – go to to get the complete
listings. Fiction is going down – get the facts!


The FREE! Three for
DocPoint 2007:

Jukka Kärkkäinen:
Tupakkahuone/Smoking Room (2006), 57

Of all the fine Finnish documentaries on
show, FREE! picks out Kärkkäinen’s hauntingly beautiful film
portraying Finns of different ages and in different situations as they reflect
their life in the quiet solitude of a smoking room at work, in a hospital and
on a train. Ascending a simple portrait documentary, Kärkkäinen takes his film
beyond its simple surface, turning the smoking room into a confessional where
the bittersweet collage of life, like the smoke from a cigarette, slowly twists
and turns on itself before dissipating into nothingness. Tupakkahuone is one of the most stunning Finnish documentaries in
years, being simultaneously timeless as well as sharply freeze-framing a moment
in time. All Finnish documentaries are shown with English subtitles.





Errol Morris: Vernon, Florida
(1982), 55 minutes.

{mosimage}Even though the entire Errol Morris retrospective
could be categorized as ‘must-see-cinema’, for sheer absurdity, the pick of the
litter has to be his second film, Vernon, Florida. Focusing
on the eccentric denizens of the titular town, Morris lets the citizens do
their own talking – and the things they talk about truly make Twin Peaks seem not that
far-fetched after all. Among other things, God, the meaning of the word
‘therefore’ and the finer points of turkey hunting are all discussed, making Vernon
the oddest slice of the American Pie on show at this year’s DocPoint. And with Jesus Camp on the menu, that’s not bad
at all.



Juan Carlos Rulfo: In the Pit/En el Hoyo (2006), 85 minutes.

{mosimage}Rulfo’s film follows the lives of a number of construction workers
building a gigantic elevated expressway in Mexíco City, a veritable microcosm revolving
around hard physical labor. The construction site is a place where lives are
lost, deals are made and life discussed in abundance, as Rulfo holds his focus tightly
on the working lives of a few men, almost shutting out the massiveness of the construction
site and the hubbub of the surrounding mega-city. In addition to its wonderful
ambient soundtrack, In the Pit features
breathtaking cinematography, as Rulfo takes his camera on top of the girders
and to the bottom of the pits where his characters work creating an intimate connection
to the nature of work, which is then generously complemented at the end of the
film with a magnificent tracking shot that captures the impossible magnitude of
the project and hammers the film into its context like nothing you’ve ever seen.

DocPoint: 24th-28th
of January in selected theatres around the city, single tickets for €6,
screening cards for 33€/50€.



Cinema Features

Fox Days: The Size Does Not Matter

All of the films shown had English subtitles, so Fox Days makes a perfect occasion for the non-Finnish speaker to get a better idea of what is going on in the Finnish short film scene.

{mosimage} Short length does not necessarily mean low quality; rather, just the opposite. The authors try to show fresh and condensed ideas, and universal feelings like love, betrayal, or loneliness, and hot topics like couple relations or social integration were very present during all the days that the festival took place. There was also time for good sense of humour and Finnish irony in films like Järvi or Heitelläänhän Kääpiötäkin.

List of winners

Best Professional Documentary: Paanajärven Anni – Lasse Naukkarinen
Best Student Documentary: Nimeni On Alma – Johanna Vanhal
Best Professional Fiction Film: Luonto ja Terveys – Panu Heikkilä
Best Student Fiction Film: Painajaiset – Jan Forsström
Best Animation Film: Polle – Sara Wahl
Best Film not exceeding three minutes length: Äijät – Working group from the children and youth cultural centre Vernissa in Vantaa

Cinema Features

Someday a Real Snow Will Come

{mosimage}The movie is based on the 12-episode TV series Fragments (Irtiottoja) shown in Finland during the autumn of 2003 in which the taxi driver Veli-Matti was one of the main characters. At the same time as the series were filmed, the same crew did the shooting of Frozen City. “It was planned this way from the very beginning and both were done at the same time”, explains Louhimies, before the premiere of the film. “In addition to the series, we wanted to create something for the international viewers and the festivals”.

As a matter of fact, Frozen City has premiered in many festivals across the world during 2006. Recently, Aku Louhimies received the Robert Wise Award for Best Director at Flanders International Festival in Ghent, Belgium. “I’m really happy and surprised about the reception of the film”. It does not matter that the film is much attached to Helsinki, because “the theme and the story are universal”.

Veli-Matti’s drama drags him into the most painful situations of the human life. In the words of the actor Janne Virtanen, “a man who loves his children is willing to go all the way to get to keep them. To me Vellu is a positive, empathic and well mannered man. I wanted him to believe to the end that things are going to get better. This way I was able to react to every bad episode with astonishment and disbelief. That helped me make Vellu a bit slower and, if you will, not so bright (but not stupid either).”

Equally complex is the character of Veli-Matti’s ex-wife, Hanna, played by Susanna Anteroinen. The actress admits that “acting was sometimes hard because Hanna was so tired of everything, particularly her husband. She was depressed and she thought that getting divorced was only way to continue her life.“

Helsinki plays an important role as the scenario for the drama. The city is presented in a pessimistic way. “It is seen as a dirty city where unhappy people are living”, explains Susanna Anteroinen. “{quotes}The taxi driver Vellu hopes that the snow will come and cover everything that is sad and bad.{/quotes} He doesn’t belong to the city and he should live somewhere else with his family. Living in the city is not good for everyone”. Janne Virtanen agrees with this perspective of Helsinki, but he thinks “it is not probably the real Helsinki. Aku wanted to show international viewers his own version of the city. It is not that hopeless to live here”.

The film had a very low budget. These limitations allowed a wide creative freedom for the director. “It would have been difficult, otherwise”, Louhimies explains. “Finland is a very small country and it is not always possible to shoot these kinds of stories”. Even non-professional actors participated in the film, such as policemen and guards who appeared in the film performing their real duties.