Hotakainen & Joonas Berghäll: Steam of Life

Stories from Life. Stories brought to the screen by Finnish men. Stories mostly told in saunas where the men are naked. To be naked can also be a metaphor for being vulnerable. Which is exactly what the men are in this extraordinary documentary that keeps your attention from start till end. The clouds or the fog of steam that fill the screen inside or outside the saunas are like the intimate and painful words that hang in the air – or they are to be watched in stunning images from the Finnish landscape, urban or (mostly) in the countryside at the lakes, at the forests.

Sometimes it is good to talk, says one of the men, and they do talk these Finnish men, who – as another man says – normally are meant to be tough. About being a father without seeing your children. About losing job and family. About having a bear as a friend, maybe the only one, out in the wilderness! About a train driver who could not stop when someone jumped to kill himself in front of the train. And the final story about the man who heartbreakingly for 10 minutes give us the story about the death of his daughter.

There is an underlying tone of sadness throughout this film but there is also warmth and (some) humour, and there is the best film music score (Jonas Bohlin) I have heard for a long time to accompany the anxiety and bad feelings that are being sweated out in the sauna AND the tableau-like images (camera: Heikki Farm) from beautiful, melancholic Finland. Do they just sit and talk… no, the director has made them sit and talk, it is amazing what they tell us, no masks, unplugged you might say, and totally controlled in editing with a grande finale that I will not reveal for you.

Trailer(s) and background material for the film, that might be onits way to be nominated for an Oscar… google the title.

www.oktober.fi

Finland, 2010, 82 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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