• Datum 16-01-2014
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This year, the former Nokialand finally wakes up to realize that technology does not cover everything.
Like many European countries, Finland has digitized practically everything it can in the film business. This has had its consequences: 41 feature-length films were made in 2013, a staggering number in a country of only 5.6 million people and about 300 cinemas. Only a decade or two ago, 15 films in a year would have been considered a lot.
The relative inexpensiveness of film production is accompanied by the cheapening of distribution of films. Right now, almost all Finnish cinemas show their films on digital projectors. The digitizing of cinemas took place in about six or seven years. The Finnish premiere of Purge (Puhdistus) by Antti Jokinen in early September 2012 marked the last time a local film was screened on 35mm film. Since then, all Finnish movies have been distributed as ones and zeroes. For the film business — producers, distributors and exhibitors — this has meant faster reaping of profits than before. But the technological changes and the general acceleration of business and the creative industry have had an impact on the art of film. What we call ‘films’ in Finland today are more like extended episodes of TV sitcoms or miniseries. The plight of Finnish filmmakers is inadequate financing, which forces them to seek co-financing from TV companies, who in turn expect filmmakers to harmonize their films with the colour schemes and general look of their channels.
Unfortunately, the similarity to TV storytelling has not produced the outstanding quality of TV dramas from other Nordic territories. The gravitas of Danish political drama The Fortress, for instance, is nowhere to be seen in any of the recent Finnish films or TV dramas. The Finns, ever so eager to embrace technological progress, seem to have forgotten that cinema should be more about substance than the device being used to watch it.
If we take away anything from the past year, it is the feeling that this coming year will bring even more flat and hackneyed storytelling. This impression only gets stronger when one sees how small in scope Finnish films are. The abundance of stories more fit for TV than cinema makes me suspect that filmmakers prefer to dream their dreams on a small screen, instead of tackling larger than life matters. To emphasize the point, there was only one film that deserved to be called cinema in 2013. The Concrete Night (Betoniyö) by Pirjo Honkasalo proved that a real cinematic artist thinks and tells stories in the way she composes her images, not content with adapting to the demands of the small screen.
While looking at the list of Finnish films from the first six months of 2014, there are possibilities for both kind of filmmaking — TV dross as well as high art.

Antti Selkokari is a film critic and a journalist who lives in Helsinki. He writes for Finnish daily Aamulehti and Variety, among others.