Kärkkäinen & Liimatainen: Once I Dreamt of Life

The website synopsis is precise so I quote that: “Every day in Finland alone, two people commit suicide. Thousands of people are affected by suicide yearly. Once I Dreamt of Life is a feature length documentary film about suicide — subject that people rarely want to talk about. It’s an account about one’s personal relation to suicide, but also studies suicide as social phenomena: What are the motives, warning signs and consequences?

The film follows the journey of a young man, an animated character based on a real person, on his path towards suicide. The journey is described by people who’ve had encounters with suicide – parents who lost their child, young adults who considered or even tried committing suicide.

When linked together, these experiences offer a collage of our perception of suicide. They are full of pain, sorrow, and guilt, but they also tell about how people cope with the past and find a reason to go on with their lives. The intention is not to romanticize suicide or judge. It encourages people to talk about painful and difficult experiences and reminds us how important it is to be heard.”

Jukka Kärkkäinen and his cameraman J P Passi are again together in this film as they were with the two significant films The Living Room of a Nation and The Punk Syndrome. Kärkkäinen has this time co-directed a new film with Sini Liimatainen, which raises the fundamental dilemma: How do you visualise/how do you make a film about suicide? The choice has been to focus on a precisely arranged framing – as in The Living Room… – with the mentioned beautiful b/w animated sequences in between the monologues of the characters, who have stories to tell. The sequences are meant to provide space for a pause from the many words, time for reflection, time to digest the

emotions coming from those, whose dearest made their decision or those who had the thought, but did not take action. But does it add to the verbal side of the film? Does it bring in another element that can take the film a bit away from the monotony of the many stories told? Don’t get me wrong – there is definitely a tone in the film, and the stories are well chosen, and yes, if you put the stories together it could be understood as one, but still it feels a bit long, repetitive and predictable. Is it right – to such a degree – to play down the drama?

Impressive words from the producer Sami Jahnukainen Mouka Film, who wrote to me: We premiered the film at the Tampere Film Festival in March, and the film is currently in cinemas in Finland. For the launch of the film we have collaborated with Finnish mental health organizations to raise awareness over the subject, and to help people who have suffered / are suffering because of suicide and mental health problems, to find help.International premiere is yet to come. The film is a co-production with Sweden, Germany and The Netherlands, and it will be shown in television at least in 6 European countries. 


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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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