19th Titanic Filmfestival

Festival Films Programs Press News

Jukka-Pekka Valkeapaa was here

The director accompanied his first feature film, The Visitor to the festival. During yesterday evening’s Q&A in Urania he told the viewers about the timeless, fairy tale-like world of the film and the difficulties of the shooting.

It was 6 years ago that Valkeapaa started writing the story that is set in a god-forsaken forest, almost lacks dialogues and focuses on a child’s worldview.

Although there is hardly any dialogue in the movie, the sound is very rich. According to the director, beside the writing process, the most exciting part of the job was working on the sound: collecting and editing it – the audio post-production took 2 months. It was also important for Valkeapaa to create a narrative that cannot be linked to concrete time and space and though the setting and the costumes evoke the thirties, there are deliberately some traces of anachronisms in the film. A part of the shooting took place in the 400-year old Estonian woods and the director claimed that when talking to Janisch Attila about his failure to find a suitably leafy forest in Finnland, the Hungarian director burst out laughing.

The Visitor
is powerfully visual, so the script the crew used was basically a list of images. The movie was strongly influenced by the paintings of last year departed artist Andrew Wyeth, Dorothea Lange’s photos taken during the economic crisis, the German expressionism of the 20s, and the Grimm brothers’ horror tales. Valkeapaa also mentioned Murnau’s The Last Laugh as important source of inspiration, since, in his opinion, this movie shows that dumb film directors already knew everything about film language.

The Visitor, made in Finnish-Estonian-German-British co-production stars Pavel Liška Czech actor: “I thought that filmmaking was too easy, so I made it more difficult by giving the Finnish character’s role to an actor who’s mother tongue is Czech”, said Valkeapaa. Liška learned the Finnish text phonetically, so his lines pronounced in Finnish were composed out of several hundred shots as a result of hard, toilsome work. Eight hundred child actors were cast for the little boy’s part, till they finally found Vitali Bobrov. As a response to a spectator’s question, the director said that the boy’s performance was his fondest: “We didn’t want to believe our eyes with the photographer seeing that we had found such an instinctive talent.”

Valkeapaa’s picture is screened as the last film in Urania at this year’s Titanic, on Sunday at 16.30!

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