One of this year’s thematic programmes is about forests and their many dimensions. The programme includes a total of three short film screenings exploring the different dimensions of the forest. There will be documentaries, fiction, animation and experimental films. The Forest theme will be continued with the AV-arkki: Trees & Destruction screening. It will present a number of short films fitting the theme.

Check out the screenings below and read Riina Mikkonen’s, Executive Director of the Tampere Film Festival,  foreword on the forest theme programme.

I feel that in Finland we do not see the forest for the trees. The value of forests is too often calculated on the basis of money, which, of course, is understandable. For a long time the Finnish economy has, after all, been largely based on forests. But the notion that the forest is mere timber, is an illusion: woodlands provide a home and a source of food for numerous species, and for people they are a wellspring of psychological well-being. Berry caches, cloudberry mires, porcini treasures and yellowfoot hordes are a source of sustenance for the mind and body alike. Even a moment spent in a forest lowers one’s blood pressure and heart rate. Indeed, hugging trees is more than worthwhile!

At the Tampere Film Festival, the forest-related programme explores the subject of woodlands from perspectives that are often disregarded when forests are discussed in a capitalist context. Forest Works screening puts forward criticism and proposes alternatives for intensive forestry. The Forest Workers (1979) takes place in a time before the advent of harvesters. Francis (2016) and How to Pick Berries (2010) take a look at the subject of migrant workers. And finally, The Entangled Forest (2023) examines the forest as a self-contained entity that doesn’t need humans.

In the Home Forest screening the forest is presented as a habitat and home for various species. For many the home forest is a dear place, and losing it can be tragic, as in the short films Limites (2022) and Tierra Mojada (2017). The forest provides shelter, as we can see in the films Animal Bridge U-3033 (2018) and Mother of the Forest ~ Curupira ~ (2023). The screening also features two rarely seen short films by Markku Lehmuskallio: Sounds of the Northern Forests (1973) and Tapiola (1974).

Metsänpeitto (“covered by forest”) is a concept that doesn’t have direct equivalents in other languages. In Finnish folklore metsänpeitto is described as a strange, foreign experience. When you are under the spell of metsänpeitto, the world falls silent and familiar things shapeshift into something else. Disappearing in metsänpeitto, you become one with something larger than yourself.

In this screening, the short film Strip of Eyelid Finds Its Morning (2023) has us surrender ourselves into the embrace of the forest. The music video by Olavi Uusivirta, Metsänpoika (2012), is a rendition of a poem by the Finnish national writer Aleksis Kivi. The mischievous films Les hommes de la nuit (2022) and Scenic View (2023) take a look at depictions of forests on a meta level. The screening concludes with Salla Hämäläinen’s documentary about Markku, who seeks oneness with the forest.

Riina Mikkonen
Curator / Tampere Film Festival