A Light Shining on Finnish Films By Marita Nyrhinen
The 41st Karlovy Vary International Film Festival invited three Finnish feature films to screen in different official sections: Lights in the Dusk (Laitakaupungin valot) by Aki Kaurismäki in Horizons, FC Venus (FC Venus) by Joona Tena in the Variety Critic’s Choice, and finally Frozen City (Valkoinen kaupunki) by Aku Louhimies in competition.
Even if these three films are very different, they also have something in common and together they present contemporary Finnish Film generally very well. Drama is the most important genre in Finnish films. Kaurismäki and Louhimies both have delivered very strong stories concerning social problems.
Kaurismäki has the ability to simplify and to minimize. The leading character in Lights in the Dusk is an anti-hero, a lonely man, living in Helsinki. Contrasts like the ugly and poor neighborhood on one hand, and on the other hand the rich and stylish ones are very carefully designed and photographed. Silence is a powerful tool.
Frozen City tells a strong story of dying love in a dissolving marriage. Louhimies lets his actors improvise and just talk. The camera follows the characters. Frozen City is based on a television serial, which was also built on improvisation. Just as in Light in the Dusk, the location is Helsinki, though here the Finnish capital is portrayed more realistically. In both films there is a question of love cast in darkness and sorrow, but Frozen City tells a deeper story about a difficult social problem, about how losing one’s family can lead to more complications and finally to total destruction.
FC Venus is a comedy. It portrays a social group which is successful because of good organization, working hard and not giving up. It is about the power of women. The film is a symbol of contemporary Finnish society and describes how much more compared to men women need to work to get a position in modern society despite the fact that the equality of the sexes in Finland is considered the best in the world.
The theme of these three films is how to survive in modern society. Light in the Dusk describes the situation from the individual’s point of view. Frozen City focuses on family and marital problems. FC Venus shows how a bigger group functions.