Thoughts on Tytöt, Tytöt, Tytöt (Girl Picture)
Interview with Alli Haapsalo by Sergio C. Muñoz at Intelatin, LLC
Why doesn’t Finland register in Latin America as an option for destination travel. I found my answer when I opened up the Visit Finland brochure:
I’d love to be in the warm thermal waters of a place that looks like the city above but Finland doesn’t market in the Americas outside of New York. As I was curiously thinking about what life is like in Finland, I was offered my first Finnish film to review.
Girl Picture is a fragment in the lives of three seventeen year old girls in their transition into adulthood. Their names are Mimmi, Ronkko & Emma. They live in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, where they attend high school. The film shows them as they are with no judgement: soft, hard, cold, warm, innocent, adventurous, open, closed, genuine, fake, cheesy and deep.
The film begins and ends in the same place. There is no life or death situation. I asked the Mexican film director, Claudia Sainte Luce, if she had seen the film and she told me that what she most remembered about the film was the complexity of one of the characters:
"Yes, I watched Girl Picture and enjoyed the film. The part that I found most interesting was how the protagonist (Mimmi) boycotted her true feelings towards her lover to protect her in the most important moment of her career as an ice-skater and to free her from distraction. It allowed complexity for the character through the betrayal of her emotions."
I agree with Claudia. I thought that Mimmi’s complexity, volatility & sensuality would be great for a remix of the television show Sex and the City (in Helsinki) where she would make a great Carrie Bradshaw and we would be able to get to know her better over a span of six seasons of starts and stops.
There is a line from the film that I most remembered that I would use to jumpstart my Finnish remix. I also used this line to begin my interview with the director, Alli Haapsalo:
“I want to get deeper, and like swallow the other person … and then watch Netflix and drink Coke together.”
I love the naivety behind the idea of intimacy and closeness being referred to through Netflix and Coke. Its really cute. We, as adults, might want to say that its naive, but at the same time, that is kind of what everybody wants at any age. She is referring to the closeness of feeling. Secretly, I think everybody wants that.
It’s embarrasing to reveal your emotions the way they do in the film. It’s almost like pathetic to feel those stadium sized emotions. We get embarrased as filmmakers because its cheesy and it’s cooler to be cold and distance. I told everybody on my team that if you think you are falling towards embarrassment then make the jump towards teenage emotions. This generation has a beautiful innocence. Its nouveau. My generation was ironic and sarcastic about everything. These girls are different, they are softer and warmer and more open. They are very genuine.
Are you a representative of Finland? Is it the driver of your identity?
I come from a small town in the Helsinki area that I would characterize as “meh.” I lived in New York for ten years so I can understand the difference between where I am from and a place like New York. But yes, I am a representative. As I travel, I do spend time understanding the narrative of my country.
Please explain the universe of the characters in your film:
The three girls are 17 or 18 and the age when you become a legal adult in Finland is 18. At 18, you get your driver’s license. At 18, you can buy alcohol. They are urban girls living in Helsinki which is Finland’s only city from my perspective. It is a very small universe. All of Finland is about six million people and in Helsinki, I imagine its less than one million people. Finland is a large country, about the size of France, but in terms of inhabitants, it is small. They attend a liberal arts high school and they are interested in a society with a diverse set of values. It is not representative of every high school in Finland. I think their worldview is more liberal than the average in Finland. You can find a more conservative high school in Helsinki but I don’t think the girls are out of the normal for young urban girls.
Is Finland in sync with the rest of Scandinavia?
Very similar. We are a big tech country and interested in startups. We are very much like Norway except we don’t have their money. The closer you get to Europe, the more continental you get. Finland now is just as educated and cultivated as Sweden is. Before, we were like the little brother left in the dark between Sweden and Russia. Politically, all the countries are pretty similar. Apparantly, there are pretty significant differences in temperment and although they may be cliché, my American husband assures me that they are all true.
What is driving the temperment of the girls in the film?
Age, in the sense of being an urgency driven age. You need to figure it out and understand your identity. Everything seems either humungous or unimportant when you are that age. You have very little perspective and you dont have life experience yet. It is easy to forget the urgency that is felt at that age but since I have been working with young actors, I have been understanding it better. Mimmi would like to be held like a child by her mother but on the other hand she wants to be independent. The mother tries to give her the space she thinks she needs but forgets that she still needs her.
Are you familiar with Sex and the City? What would happen if your characters were given six seasons to flesh out everything about themselves?
That is a fun idea. My honest answer is that I do not know. After six seasons, my guess is that they would be still searching. It’s just a fragment of life. They do not end in a different place than where they begin. I do not believe in the coming of age. I think we are constantly in an identity crisis searching for who the F we are. Sex and the City is also about that I think. Mimmi is the mental main character of the film and she is …. searching ….
What is the Liminal Age?
The girls are moving in the space between being an adult and a child. Being a woman and a girl. For me, its the no-mans-land when you are not yet an adult but no longer a child.
+ A few more fragment of life photographs … #Europe #Scandinavia #Finland #Helsinki #GirlPicture #AlliHaapsalo #Tytöt
Buy or Rent Girl Picture on YouTube ; Apple TV ; Amazon Prime