Film Archive

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

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

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
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
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

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

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