Close Up

11 December 2022: Finnish/Female/Feminist Filmmakers


A programme of 10 short films by trail-blazing women filmmakers in Finland from 1960s to 1990s, all screened on 16mm prints.

As Finnish society was going through drastic changes, the cameras of female directors were turned on the issues of the day. Whether by gender parity through bold feminist thinking, creating a world-beating education system from scratch or dissecting social norms to build a better nation, the Finns seem to know how to make things work, right those societal wrongs.  

For a short while, some of this social commentary was captured on celluloid by a handful of women who entered the field when the national cinema was in the midst of its biggest financial gloom. It was a slim window of opportunity in the 70s and 80s, but these rarities from the vaults of the Finnish Film Archive are a time capsule to cherish. In short form they present vibrant, socially-aware filmmaking with a feminist slant, and touches of wit.  

The programme will be introduced by curator Milja Mikkola of Finland's Midnight Sun Film Festival and followed by a Q&A with director Marjut Rimminen who is represented by four films in the programme.  

Before I Die
Pirjo Honkasalo & Elina Katainen, 1967, 3 min, 16mm  

"Once upon a time I walked in thought. And I felt the pain of burning. When all alone."  

Finnish Frustrations
Eila Kaarresalo, 1969, 7 min, 16mm  

Diminishing dances. The last chance for women and men to find a partner. In seven minutes, this feminist cornerstone of Finnish cinema isolates an aspect of sexual inequality with a narrative starkness.  

Would Momma Allow?
Eila Kaarresalo, 1968, 2 min, 16mm  

As the title suggests, times they are a changin'. Some fine, free jazz with the girls letting loose.  

Elina Katainen, Virke Lehtinen & Aito Mäkinen, 1978, 17 min, 16mm  

A 70s collective film examining the significance of work for people and society, explaining the changes that have taken place in working life. With a soundtrack by great jazz composer Edward Vesala  

Marja Pensala, 1982, 5 min, 16mm  

Elsa is a howlingly funny satire about passionate, green living and the social status of women. An anti-advertisement-cum-advert parody.  Will you be sold within 5 minutes?  

Marjut Rimminen, 1982, 8 min, 16mm  

A human-political satire about war and peace, optimism and pessimism. A struggle between despair and faith in life, in which neither wins, but life goes on.  

Fly, Love
Marja Pensala, 1989, 2 min, 16mm  

A glimpse of the Nordic locals gathered at the Helsinki Rowing Stadium on a summer evening, bonded by a devotional enjoyment of communal singing. Fly, Love is a music video for mature women and grown-up guys.  

Many Happy Returns
Marjut Rimminen, 1997, 9 min, 16mm  

A painstaking journey of fragmented childhood memories that still torment, well into adulthood. Mesmerising animation fusing multiple techniques. From puppets to live action to computer effects, the film is a joy.  

The Stain
Marjut Rimminen, 1992, 11 min, 16mm  

Director Marjut Rimminen and writer Christine Roche build a shocking story of a nuclear family torn apart in a maelstrom of nightmarish illustrations. A house on a cliff by the sea can hold secrets only for so long.  

I'm not a Feminist but...
Marjut Rimminen, 1986, 7min, 16mm  

An exhilarating story based on Christine Roche's well-known book of the same title. In this gorgeous animation women are definitely not side-lined. "Should I change your diaper before I go?"

16mm archive prints, courtesy of KAVI – Finnish Film Archive

Supported by:


Never on Sunday is a series of screenings of rare classics, archive masterpieces, obscure delights and forgotten gems carefully curated and introduced by Ehsan Khoshbakht and taking place the last Sunday of each month at Close-Up.