Suomalaiset dokumenttielokuvat ovat vahvasti esillä niin Tribecassa New Yorkissa kuin tämän viikon liopussa alkavalla Hot Docs- festivaalilla Kanadassa. Hot Docsin johtaja Sen Farnel kirjoittaa suomalaisista (mies)dokumenteista:
It was at dinner last Fall with two Finnish colleagues, a male and a female, that I first learned of the crisis in Finnish masculinity. The typical Finnish male, I was told, was adrift, disorientated in a culture of gregarious, dominant, upwardly mobile women. We had some fun with the notion, playing on cliches of the stolid, silent Finnish male emasculated within a matriarchal culture. Yet, just a few months later and Hot Docs is set to present three Finnish productions steeped in male anxieties, not to mention that delightfully deadpan Finnish irony.
FREETIME MACHOS follows the bonding rituals of an amateur rugby team, but is about rugby in the same way that HOOP DREAMS is about basketball. I love the dialogue between the men here, which really captures the way men talk to each other in this context (and which is probably why this film was a particular favourite of many of the women on our staff).
Very closely related is STEAM OF LIFE, a series of tableaus constructed around male sauna culture in Finland. I was surprised and quite moved by the depth of emotion that surfaces in this film. While the more serious side is balanced by many funny scenes and observations, this is definitely a male weepie.
As well, the no-fuss titled PORTRAIT OF A MAN follows the daily struggles of a single-father dealing with divorce and the legacy of alcoholism and suicide. Again, this a strong narrative doc with much emotion, as we follow Kalle trying to break a patriarchal downward spiral.
While not directly linked in terms of theme, our other Finnish feature doc, ITO – DIARY OF AN URBAN PRIEST, is set in Japan and does feature a particularly male kind of existential journey. Directed by the great Pirjo Honkasalo, the film follows a young boxer, Fujioka, who is now a Buddhist priest. While one of the first films I screened (way back in October) for this year’s programme, the meditative mood evoked here remains very tangible for me.
Each of these docs is linked by another quality that is consistent in Finnish documentary, a meticulous attention to form and craft. While only STEAM OF LIFE prominently relies on the bread and butter of Finnish filmmaking – the frontal, static long take (which always works for me) – each of these productions have those uniquely Finnish observational rhythms, at once stately and somehow awkward, raw, uncomfortably honest and direct.