Finnish documentary film director Jukka Kärkkäinen, has become a more and more common name at the documentary festivals. His stories portray characters from the Finnish every day life and the strong content ranges from moments of success to extreme loneliness and suffering, which make the viewer think about the unpredictability of life.
Jukka is down to earth, takes life seriously and has a strong and sensitive vision of what goes on around him. He takes on difficult subjects with a humouristic twist. This is how he views the world and plays in it, using the best tool he has, humor. I had the opportunity to have a chat with him twice before the interview and of course, I found Jukka very friendly, modest and far from being a bluffer, very common nowadays among film related fauna.
His first short fiction film was “Everybody misses mother”. By the way, a very original title and it was done in spanish. This short film portrays the last moments of a man who confesses, right before dying, to his son that his mother is alive and in Finland. Here is where Jukka’s irony really kicks in, “at the end everybody dies”, he laughs.
So far Kärkkäinen has several done documentaries, fiction films and a music video. When he created Mouka Filmi —with his producer and friend Sami Jahnukainen— Jukka involved himself in documentaries with a humanistic point of view. Examples of his work are: a story of a handycapped man who wins the Eurovision singing contest. A film about a hospitalized elderly woman with a mortal bacteria, who before dying gets to visit the farm where she grew up. A story about a woman with mental illness, who faces difficulties and loss of independence due old age.
In his last production, The Living Room of the Nation, Jukka presents six stories from six different Finnish living rooms. His lead characters talk about the changes in their lives, solitude, responsibility and the inevitable passing of time.
Jukka and Sami make a perfect pair, they are opposites in personality when it comes to documentary making. Something which has improved the quality of their work and paid them with fair recognition… recognition which of they don’t talk about much because of their very Finnish modesty.
-In the documentary The leaving room of the nation you talk about 6 stories, what did you find in all of these people?
-Jukka: A man who is becoming a father, after that he is divorced. An old man who lives in Lapland that realizes that when he was young he was a bad father, and in turn he remembers his own as a good father, like a super man. There is a lonely priest who actually doesn’t have friends at all, only some nursing women who comes to see him. it’s a story about loneliness and how is it being outside of this world. A couple and an alcoholic woman who takes pills. I don’t think this is Finland, I think this is my perception of where I live. It is a kind of story of how I see and feel the world, it is very lonely and confusing place for me. If I have decided, I would have never been born.
-Maybe in Mexico? Drinking tequila?
-Jukka: Maybe, yes, yes that sounds fine. (laughs)
– You talk a lot of loneliness
-Jukka: I’m interested in loneliness, I feel loneliness everyday even if my good friend is there…. I feel that I’m not in the right place and the right time and would like to be old, that’s why I’m interested in old people, but let’s see if I get there one day. We don’t know and we don’t hope, just let see.
-Many people think that Finns are lonely people, is this true?
-Sami: The image of Finns tends to be quite reserved and not open for conversation and contact very easily, of course something, it is not necessarily loneliness but it is some sort of difficulty in building a social network and surroundings…
-You talk about modesty as well.
-Jukka: It’s very difficult to be like the formula driver Kimi Räikkönen, even if he is the best, sometimes he doesn’t want to be in the middle of the stages, and after that he just wants to be with his friends and somewhere in the corner, but he is driving very fast and he is thinking that the only thing that matters, but anything else, it is quite Finnish style to be like that. Enhanced modesty… we had being taught not to do that, my father told me to do that, just do your work and don’t become proud at all.
-Sami: I think this is one of the reasons for getting depressed. It is very difficult for people, I can Imagine, who would be successful here, because first thing they probably think is that people would watch, criticize…
-Jukka: Now is changing… on TV, in reality shows people want those 15 minutes of glory, they just want to be very good actor or director… young people want to be starts.
-How do you describe yourself?
-Jukka: I’m an exhibitionist who has scopophobia, my life is quite tragic. I show myself through my work, but don’t like to be observed.
-Have your documentaries been in festivals?
-Sami: we have been producing very good subjects and touching stories that work on many layers and make people see the world from our perspective; form our point of view. The Living Room of the Nation was screened during the opening of the finnish festival Docpoint and in Tampere. It will be on TV in autumn. It has also been accepted for the International Festival in Varsovia in Poland. We are working on getting more and more.
-Plans for the future?
-Jukka: I’m going to change my religion; I’m becoming Muslim because I want to get four wives… (from protestant).
-Jukka: it is very nice to go to Varsovia drinking alcohol to meeting some people, some colleagues, and woman perhaps.
-So you just started collecting wives?
-Jukka: Yes, yes… from every country one.
-From which countries?
-Jukka: Every Country, maybe from Mexico. (laughs)
-You told me about the documentary of suicide, are you still interested on that?
-Jukka: Yes, still because we are alive
-Sami: well, we haven’t done the film yet. It is an important issue to bring in and try to undress the taboo from this issue, because it is all around. We notice that when we did the living room of the nation, there are so many stories concerning suicide. Every body seems to know somebody who has lost somebody through suicide or they’ve being thinking about it themselves. It doesn’t allow people to have real knowledge and the shame of people who have the experience, we don’t know what is it. It is not allowed to talk about it. It is very important to bring this issue in and discuss it in a way not hurting people’s feelings.
For Tequila Below 0º
Rocío Adelita de las Pistolas
in complicity with Fritania de las dos Cejas