June 17: Finnish Filmmakers in Conversation: Red Carpets Need Original Finns

The Small Tent of the Midnight Sun Film Festival was filled with Finnish film makers on Saturday: actors Alma Pöysti, Jussi Vatanen, and Tommi Korpela, director of Lynx Man Juha Suonpää, director of Palimpsest Hanna Västinsalo, director of The Woodcutter Story Mikko Myllylahti, director of Family Time Tia Kouvo, and producer Jussi Rantamäki participated in the conversation, and it was moderated by the Chief Executive Officer of Nordisk Film & TV Film Liselott Forsman

Jussi Rantamäki said that Finnish films get more visibility abroad than before and that he is glad that the younger generation does not think too much about what international audiences might want to see but make personal works that become universal.

Mikko Myllylahti underlined the importance of production companies and producers. Film making is difficult and the responsibilities and pressure make the work lonely. Producers help in difficult situations and lend support when there is a crisis in the film making process.

Tia Kouvo also mentioned the role of film schools. Kouvo has studied in Valand Academy in Gothenburg and appreciated how well the students are taken care of there. Everyone’s little voice is amplified, so that it gets heard. Kouvo has been described as a strict director who knows what she wants, and she believes that she learned that at Valand. 

Hanna Västinsalo is a film maker with a doctorate in molecular genetics. In her film Palimpsest she speculates on what a medical trial is like from the participants’ point of view. Her double profession helped a lot in scripting because she has experience in pharmaceutics of genetics. The film tells the story of two 80-year-olds whose trial in gene therapy rejuvenates their bodies. What does a 20-year-old with 80 years of experience do? 

Juho Suonpää’s documentary Lynx Man has been seen abroad in Denmark and Canada and received Nordic Docca Award before the Finnish premiere. “It is often said that you get to the home market from outside,” he commented. 

The panellists said that heading to the international market is also a question of confidence. We need to trust that our original thinking is enough, and you do not need to be an extraordinary genius. The film also needs to reinvent itself and be boldly different from the TV. 

Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen talked about working with Aki Kaurismäki. According to Pöysti the collaboration was a cleansing experience, and she learned a lot about how little is enough: when the vision is clearly thought out and written and the director is skilled and experienced one shot is enough. It was easy to clean everything unnecessary from the acting while shooting. 

Jussi Vatanen said that Aki’s style is precise and original. He said that it was interesting and a big challenge to jump into Kaurismäki’s style that is so familiar to every Finn. Vatanen also praised Kaurismäki’s take on script writing – you just needed to execute it without adding anything extra.

Images: Susanna Pesonen