Exploring the female’s strength from behind the camera

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Assisting to the recent Tampere Film Festival was director Petri Kotwica. Do not get mistaken by the Polish surname; Kotwica is 100% Finnish, and he happens to be the great winner in the past Jussi awards ceremony (the Oscars of the Finnish Film Industry). He got the awards for best director, best script and best film and his film Musta Jää (Black Ice) was also awarded for having the best soundtrack. Before going back to gather with the rest of the jury members for choosing the festival winners, he had time for a nice talk with FREE! Magazine. 

Musta Jää was the huge winner in the last Jussi Awards, so I suppose you must feel really satisfied with it. How long did it take to put all the film together?

Well, of course when you receive a prize, you cannot less than be very happy. The film took me about six years. I was not working on it all the time. In the middle I made another movie.

What was your motivation for creating such a script?

Well, I think that at some point I had messed my own personal life. Well of course nothing that happened in the film really happened to me but I started to think about what would happen if I changed the perspective of it and would take the point of view of the women.

And certainly in the film the women´s characters are the strongest ones. Was it difficult for you to direct women in such strong leading roles?

Yes, that took extra time… to create the emotional aspects, you know. I had to spend time on discussions with women. There is a long tradition in having female characters in the leading roles, but usually the scripts are written from the male point of view. So those films are done by men, directed by men, etc. I think that I would be happy to see more films from the female´s point of view

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I heard that your next film will feature also women as main characters. Is that true?

Actually it will change order a bit and won´t be my next one. My next one will be about young people who are playing too much computer games…  We will start shooting it in February-March.

In Musta Jää, you counted for the soundtrack with the collaboration of Eicca Toppinen, one of the members of Apocalyptica. Are you a fan of the band?

Yes, I got in contact with him because my motivation was to have very contradictory music: I wanted very traditional music but at the same time containing some disturbing elements and I had always found those features in Apocalyptica. I follow a lot of rock music.

In Musta Jää appears a German character in a small role. What is your general opinion about the integration of foreigners in Finland?

Well, that was requested by the German co-producers when signing the contract. In any case, I love that part about integration. I think the more the relation we have with foreigners, the more we learn. I am a very peaceful person, and you know that you do not want to have a fight with people you know. That is the aspect I like in globalization. Economical aspects are more complicated…

In my native country, Spain, we have had for many years this “Almodovar´s effect” in cinema industry, so seemed like there was no life after him. Is something like that happening in Finland with Kaurismäki´s fame?

Well, I was just in Berlin Film Festival and the first question everybody made was always “what do you think about Kaurismäki” but well, it is ok. It is important that now other films start to be known outside Finland.

 

 

"It is the first time that Hollywood shows interest in making a remake of a Finnish movie"

Petri Kotwica – Film Director {mosimage}

 

I can see some common features in recent Finnish movies like the mentioned Musta Jää, Valkoinen Kaupunki or Suden Vuosi.: Helsinki portrayed as a cold dark city, twisted love triangles, relations of young girls with older men who belong to academic world… Do you think that the same than in music, people talk about “Finnish melancholia”, is there a Finnish style in making movies?

I think so, yeah. Well I must say I have not seen Suden Vuosi although I know there is an older professor also there. In any case, I tried with my drama to show something a little bit different.

Is there anything you want to share with our readers?

Actually I wanted to comment you that there are some offers to make a remake film of Musta Jää in English language. It has never happened to a Finnish film before. The offers came from Hollywood. They contacted the production company, but well, for the moment it is only a speculation, not confirmed at all.

If you could choose, what English speaking actresses would you like to see in that version?

Well, I would like to see some strong female characters like Susan Sarandon or Sigourney Weaver. Before that they contacted us also from Russia and South Korea. Actually South Koreans producers were offering straight away to buy the rights and make a remake during last Berlin festival, of course in Korean language. I was thinking… “whaaaaat!!!???".

Photos: Eduardo Alonso.