This years domestic retrospective is from director Jussi Hiltunen (b. 1984). His short films are studies on issues like bitterness, guilt and revenge. Hiltunen’s films have been shown in various European film festivals. He has also won the main price for short fiction in the international competition here at the Tampere Film Festival.
The Legacy, the name of one of your films hints towards tangible, physical legacy as well as towards immaterial masculine lecagy. The film is a great reminder of the importance of parents as role models and conveyors of values. How do you see the masculinity of Finnish men? Is there still a stereotypical ”Boys don’t cry” upbringing going on, or has there been a visible change in attitudes?
Masculine upbringing hasn’t disappeared entirely, at least I don’t think so. To my understanding that’s how I was brought up myself. Of course nowadays it’s more hip and acceptable to be a kind and loving father. That’s what I try to be. I think masculinity comes from our genetic heritage. As a father of a 4-year-old boy, I’ve noticed that battle games are of interest already of boys that age. The more you try to prevent them, the more they fight.
The starting point of your script Silent week was a shooting incident dated a few years back in your hometown Rovaniemi. The angle in the film is brilliant; instead of focusing on the shooter or victims, you focus on the experiences of bystanders. How did you start processing these themes of ”secondary guilt” and healing from trauma?
I had no means to get into the mind of the shooter, the bystanders more so. After all I was there when the shooting happened and I know what kind of reactions an experience like that could cause. I felt I had more to say from the bystanders point of view. The film became a survival story instead of one of destruction.
You wrote the script for your newest short film Winterheart where the middle-aged taxi driver Eikka struggles with his own family crisis and simultaneously tries to help a peer of his daughter. The girl doesn’t fit Eikka’s fantasy of an innocent damsel in distress. From where did you get your idea for this story?
I got the idea from the time when I was still a taxi driver, plus I wanted to do a father-daughter story. It was interesting to make a film where a taxi driver meets a girl who needs help; by helping the girl the taxi driver helps himself too. There was enough story in it for a feature film, but I had already decided on a short. Time will tell if I’ll ever make a feature with the same settings. Maybe I’d like to, on the other hand, it might be best to look forward.
Your first feature film, Law of the Land premiers in January. What was it like to make a feature after making short films?
While making the feature film I realized that this is what I was pursueing all the time. I had more time and resources, it was awesome. The actual doing part didn’t differ that much from the making of short films.
Law of the Land is described as ”Nordic western”. Is today’s Lapland the new Wild West? One could imagine that, considering the centralization of the police, healthcare and other social services further and further away from the borderlands.
Maybe or maybe not. I’m guessing that many things happen in the small villages of Lapland that we never hear about. On the other hand, the same could happen easily in the cities. I can’t say that Lapland is the Wild West, but it was easy to claim that while making the film.
Does Law of the Land mean that from now on you’ll make only feature films or do you still have ongoing short film projects?
No, it doesn’t. At the moment I don’t have any short films in development, but if a theme that would interest me would appear, it woudn’t matter if it would be short or feature length.