Virpi Suutari: Garden Lovers

Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, directors of the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade present ”Garden Lovers” that will be screened February 4th at the festival. The text also includes words from the director:

One of the most important Finnish and European documentary authors, Virpi Suutari, is passionate about two things – documentaries and gardens. In this film she leads us into the beautiful and funny world “North of Eden”.

This is a documentary love story about couples who take care of their gardens together. The film looks behind the middle-class facades with a comic twist and listens to the couples’ stories about the conflicts and joys of long relationships. The setting is their own garden, a hobby that in many cases has gotten out of hand years ago. The film’s angle on the toiling and the passionate gardening is kind and humoristic: fellow human beings build and defend their territories, but also enjoy beauty in the paradise they have built for themselves and their spouses.

In the visually handsome film an invisible bond develops between the key couples. With their own stories they listen, comment and comfort each other – while also providing viewers with a chance to engage. The garden represents a door to the everyday struggles of human life, with joy, without moralizing and underlining. The film’s gardening stories celebrate fertility, play – and love.

This is a comic documentary about the necessity of gardening.

Director’s Word: The process of making “Garden Lovers” was open, cheerful and liberated – a midsummer night’s play in a sense. As a director, I was happier than ever when making this film. At the same time I was bidding farewell to my father, who taught me everything about gardening. Thus, the film also became a personal journey toward accepting the idea of letting go and meeting death. With “Garden Lovers” I want to celebrate things that are temporary but necessary to the meaning of human existence. The main characters work like crazy – as I do – for their imaginary paradises, although the fruits of their labor may vanish in a moment. We cannot cheat death, but as long as our hands are buried in soil, we at least feel alive.

Finland, 2014, 73 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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