Film Archive

Alppikatu 25 – Home to the Homeless

Documentary Film
Finland
2012
27 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Cilla Werning, Liisa Juntunen
Inka Achté, Marika Väisänen
Graham Hadfield
Sari Aaltonen, Daniel Lindholm, Tuomas Järvelä
Hannele Majaniemi
Alppikatu Street No. 25 has been the address of a shelter for the homeless in Helsinki since 1937. A place for men who have no place of their own. Men without a past? “Create your own memories”, says the motto on a piece of paper pinned to the wall. And yet the memories and traces of the lives of many people who have made a minimal home here, if only temporary, are stored in the monotonous architecture, whose long, bare corridors and narrow cells make one think of a prison. Five of them tell their stories. For a moment, the film delves into each of their interior worlds using only their voices, to which subtle sound collages are added. Visually, the men are never more than phantoms. Sometimes they are caught in the blurriness of the room, sometimes they seem near stagnation. Only the cigarette smoke appears to move. The room, on the other hand, offers no resistance to the exploring camera, as if it could really tell us something about its inhabitants. The abstract brushes shoulders with the concrete, time brushes the room.

Lars Meyer
International Programme 2013
American Vagabond Susanna Helke

After his coming-out, teenager James is disowned by his parents and lives in the streets of San Francisco – until everything turns out differently. A touching coming-of-age drama.

American Vagabond

Documentary Film
Finland
2013
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Cilla Werning
Susanna Helke
Samuli Kosminen
Susanna Helke, Marko Luukkonen
Niels Pagh Andersen
It was never to be mentioned again, because if it wasn’t allowed it couldn’t be. But contrary to his father’s verdict, James did not become a “real” boy who loves hunting and fishing, but the worst this American middle-class family were able to imagine. So they threw their gay teenage son out of their home and left him to his fate as one of thousands of homeless adolescents in the States. Up to forty percent of them live on the streets because they belong to a “sexual minority”.
Susanne Helke accompanies James and Tyler, the love of his life, through the dirty streets and dark parks of San Francisco, the “gayest city in the world”. Instead of the hoped-for paradise they find themselves freezing, hungry, and marginalised, even by the established gay community. But things turn out differently: after the first part, where James tells his story from off screen, the second part is about his absence – he‘s behind bars as a “sexual offender”. Because while even his conservative family are now ready to reconsider their opinion, the “mother country of democracy” has nothing but severity against everything that’s different from the mainstream. This atmospheric and careful film is an equally tender and shocking coming-of-age story and at the same time a passionate plea to love your fellow human beings unconditionally.

Grit Lemke

Emergency Calls

Documentary Film
Finland
2013
15 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Joonatan Portaankorva
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Joonatan Portaankorva
What is your emergency? The question that’s at the start of every call to an emergency centre is also at the start of this film. Excited, sometimes desperate people on the soundtrack. The emergencies: precipitate labour, a multiple car crash. But also a killing spree and the last radio message of the “Estonia”. The call marks the boundary between life and death which – perhaps – will be crossed. It also depends on those who take it: embodied here by white figures lacking any status-generating symbols such as clothing or hair. Reduced to the naked, pure human being everything depends on. Or are they the Erinyes who hold our fate in their hands?
There is no blood, no images of disasters. We see NASA footage of earth as seen from space instead, clouds, lightshows, radar signals, pointedly distorted. What is one man’s need in view of the infinity of the universe? – Everything, claims this film which, like all works by the directing duo Vartiainen/Veikkolainen, defies categorisation. It reminds us of the conjunctive which runs through our secure lives in the shape of the potential for the worst case. The writing on the wall that silently hovers above us. Would have. Could have. What is your emergency?

Grit Lemke
International Programme 2013
Hazards Virke Lehtinen

Is it coincidence that determines which leaf falls from the tree at what point, whether we get cancer, or what we remember? An artful essay about fate, cinema images, and memory.

Hazards

Documentary Film
Finland
2013
45 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Virke Lehtinen
Virke Lehtinen
Virke Lehtinen
Tuuli Kuittinen, Juuso Lavonen
Virke Lehtinen
Our lives are shaped by coincidences. At least that’s the point of view that strikes Virke Lehtinen as he revises the images of his life. He has worked as a cinematographer and documentary film director since the 1960s. There are enough events in his archive that were unintentionally exposed, as it were. A burning car by the side of the road on a snowy night is one of them. The camera stoically keeps recording while the cinematographer – Lehtinen – leaps onto the scene to help. The images haunt him. Is it really all coincidence? Which leaf falls from the tree at what time, whether we get cancer or not – and what we remember? For isn’t memory dependent on an infinite number of components?
The director turns his thesis into a visual principle, allowing himself to be guided from one image to the next, giving his thoughts free rein while everything is being woven into a dense carpet of motives. In the back of the spectator’s mind there may emerge an idea which the narrator of the epilogue of the cult movie “Magnolia” expresses in view of a sheer endless chain of accidents: “And you really want to tell me this is coincidence? That can’t be the answer!” With quiet melancholy, Lehtinen creates an artful essay film about the fateful connection between coincidence, memory and film images, which could also be interpreted as a kind of found footage autobiography.

Lars Meyer

Hilton! – Here For Life

Documentary Film
Finland
2013
75 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Markku Tuurna
Virpi Suutari
Matti Pentikäinen, Arto Tuunela
Heikki Färm
Jussi Rautaniemi
Virpi Suutari
The future? A bullet in the head. At least that’s what it feels like when you’re stranded at the “Hilton” council estate, a derelict new development in Helsinki. The people who live here aren’t 30 yet but have seen everything. They feel anger and a sadness that refuses to come out as grief but must be vented. By hitting one’s head against a wooden beam again and again. By hurting oneself or simply stopping to go out and getting used to it. People here sleep with a knife under their pillow because they have never learnt anything else, and tear up bills because it doesn’t make a difference anyway.
Virpi Suutari, emerging from the magic school of Finnish documentary cinema, doesn’t see welfare cases but individuals: Janne, Toni, Mira, Pete, and Make. While their stories, which almost inevitable lead downwards, are told, they begin to shine. The visuals are rough, nothing polished, the montage as impulsive as the protagonists’ emotions or the flash-like mobile phone images they shot themselves. Not a whiff of social romanticism, and yet the camera finds moments of purity, restfulness and warmth, a community that redefines the middle-class idea of the family. A child is born. It’s mostly owing to the power of Suutari’s narrative that this story ends in hope.

Grit Lemke



Prize of the Trade Union ver.di 2013

Retrospective 2013
Memory Peter von Bagh

The Civil War is something like a blind spot in the history of Finland. The country had hardly become independent when it was torn by a violent civil war. The birth of the republic and ...

Memory

Documentary Film
Finland
1987
118 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Peter von Bagh
The Civil War is something like a blind spot in the history of Finland. The country had hardly become independent when it was torn by a violent civil war. The birth of the republic and the circumstances surrounding it quickly became a tacit taboo. There are practically no moving images of the events themselves. Even feature films rarely tackle the subject. “Memory” lets some of the few surviving eye-witnesses of those years talk. A work of words, many of which reveal how long they have waited to be spoken and recorded for posteriority.

Olaf Möller
International Programme 2013
My Stuff Petri Luukkainen

A farewell to the affluent society: a year without one’s possessions, which are retrieved piece by piece. But what is really important? A sporting self-experiment that doesn’t sermonize.

My Stuff

Documentary Film
Finland
2013
80 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Anssi Perttala
Petri Luukkainen
Timo Lassy
Jesse Jokinen
Altti Sjögren
Petri Luukkainen
Kyösti Väntänen
Life in an affluent society is not without its challenges. All those useful and beautiful objects surrounding us are supposed to create a permanent feeling of happiness. But paradoxically the lack of privations tends to lead to identity crises. Just think of Sofia Coppola, whose whole cinematic oeuvre is founded on that. The young Finnish director Petri Luukkainen adopts a sporting attitude. To find out what he really needs in life, he starts a documentary experiment on himself. In the middle of winter he clears his flat and locks everything he owns, down to the last pair of underpants, away in a rented storage. For one year he will take out one object per day and systematically get his life back, piece by piece. Moral support is provided by his grandmother. But soon he faces decisions that are too much for an individual. What’s more important: mattress, coat, spoon, toothbrush, mobile phone? Playfully, Luukkainen thinks, films and, yes, directs himself on his way through his annulled Helsinki student life. A simple experimental set-up evolves into a narrative. The question of what one needs in life, however, is left for everyone to answer for themselves, because “My Stuff” precisely does not sermonize on the thin line between the prosperous and affluent society.

Lars Meyer

Remembrance

Documentary Film
Finland
2013
69 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Jouko Aaltonen
Peter von Bagh
Arto Kaivanto
Petteri Evilampi
Peter von Bagh
Martti Turunen
Memories of Oulu, where Finnish director Peter von Bagh grew up. Oulo, Wikipedia says, used to be famous for its wood tar production and fishing port, suffered massive bombing in the Second World War, flourished as a centre of paper production, chemical and steel industries and has now become a synonym for IT and wellness. Three Finnish presidents and an impressive number of artists and scientists attended the city’s Lyceum, as the director himself did. These confirmable historic circumstances play a role in “Muisteja”, but the ambition to do justice to an exterior chronology of events and names or make a contribution to the official history of the city is firmly relegated to the background in favour of the joy of tracing personal memory capers triggered by the archive film footage and photos used.
A poetic portrait of a city that is closer to the evocative and subtle energy of Dominik Graf’s and Michael Althen’s “Munich – Secrets of a City” than to enterprises with a more systematic and representative approach such as “Berlin – Symphony of a Metropolis”.

Ralph Eue
Animadoc 2013
The High Heel High Chrzu

The question here is not “to be or not to be”, but “to have or not to be” – if you are obsessed with shoes like our young Finnish heroine ...

2013

The High Heel High

Animadoc
Finland
2013
8 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Toni Panula
Chrzu
Yrjö Saarinen
Einari Vuorinen
Veera Lehtola
Elina Minn, Antti Laakso, Claudia Hidvégi
Mikko Paju
The question here is not “to be or not to be”, but “to have or not to be” – if you are obsessed with shoes like our young Finnish heroine. For – a word to the uninitiated – a shoe is not a shoe. High heels, platform soles, sandals, flip flops, strappy pumps, ankle boots: magnificent pairs for specific moods and situations. And colour plays a role, too.