A Moment In The Reeds
Saturday 6th October 2018, 11:00-13:00
Film sponsored by Jonathan Cutbill
Country of Origin: UK | Finland
Length: 108 min (1hr 48 min)
Director: Mikko Makela
Leevi returns from Paris to his native Finland to help his estranged father renovate the family lake house so it can be sold. Tareq, a recent asylum seeker from Syria, has been hired to help with the work, and when Leevi’s father has to return to town on business, the two young men establish a connection and spend a few days discovering one another during the Finnish midsummer.
A tender film set against the quintessential Finnish backdrop exploring what it means to be emigrant and immigrant to Finland and grapple with one’s national and sexual identity.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT – Mikko Makela
There has been a real lack of queer narratives in Finnish cinema, and that is why I initially set out to make this film – to fill the queer void, so to speak. However, I didn’t simply want to address sexual diversity in the film but also highlight the limits of modern Finland as a multicultural society, and address the pockets of racism (and homophobia) that still very much exist in a society which likes to think of itself as fairly progressive.
I wanted to make a film that was Finnish and un-Finnish at the same time, a film that contained multiple perspectives onto my native country. Importantly, I wanted to stage this opening up of traditional Finnish society by these characters usually relegated to its margins, in the most iconic of Finnish milieus, the summery lakeside. My main objective in making the film was to challenge Finland into acknowledging the diversity that exists within it – to confront the homogeny of the mainstream with the difference that has been marginalised as “un-Finnish” for so long.
More than I expected when setting out to make it, the film became a testament to my own reappraisal of my native country: it is simultaneously a love- letter and a critique; a re-discovery and exploration of many of those aspects of Finnish culture and society which I vehemently rejected growing up and by leaving the country myself.
At its heart, the film is about two people who have fled their native countries – one of course in far more privileged circumstances than the other – for a freer, safer life elsewhere. Beyond addressing the topic of queer migration from hostile environments to safer spaces, it was important to me to explore the contemporary experience of a Syrian refugee coming to Finland and to raise awareness of the various difficulties faced by him in a society that has traditionally not been very diverse or open-minded.
The two characters view Finland very differently, Leevi’s privilege evident in his having been able to reject this relatively liberal society that for Tareq (the first Syrian gay character in cinema) appears as a place where he can finally live freely, and it was the tension inherent in this unexpected and problematic crossing of paths that I wanted to explore.
To take a wider view, I would like to think that the film can be seen as representing most things antithetical to Trumpism and Brexitism: open borders, freedom of movement, international solidarity, and not only tolerance but respect for ethnic, sexual and religious diversity.