FFSC presents Finnish films at the Swedish Cultural Center (1920 Dexter Ave. N. Seattle) on the fourth Wednesday of each month (except July and August) at 7:30 pm and on the following Friday at 2:00 pm.


January 25/27  Metsän tarina (Tale of a Forest), 2012, 72 minutes, S (All ages)

Last January, this film series began with a peak into some lovely and lovingly-tended Finnish gardens in Eedenistä pohjoiseen (Garden Lovers).    This January the view shifts to Finland’s natural beauty in this gorgeous documentary – a feast for the eyes and for the ears, with an international award for best documentary score by Panu Aaltio.

February 22/24  Aleksis Kiven elämä (The Life of Aleksis Kivi), 2001, 101 minutes, ST (Adults and mature teens)

Originally scheduled for October of last year, this unusual treatment of the father of the Finnish novel focuses on the opposition among the Swedish-speaking elite to the literary pretension of this upstart son of a village tailor.

The film unfolds almost as a play might have appeared in Kivi’s own time.

March 22/24  Ystäväni Henry (My Friend Henry),  2004, 90 minutes, K-11 (Adults and teens)

A convincing portrayal of two twelve-year old outsiders who find understanding and friendship in their relationship.  Elsi, the recent product of a divorce, meets Henry, burdened with duties  well beyond his age,  and the two of them  learn to open up and share the secrets that separate them from their cruel peers.

April 26/28  Takaisin pintaan (Diving into the Unknown), 2016, 82 minutes, S (Adults and teens)

This extraordinary film documents the efforts of members of a Finnish diving team to recover the bodies of two of their companions caught in an underground cave in Norway.  While details of their mission are clarified through the use of graphics, the emphasis here is on the responsibility friends have for one another.

May 24/26   Henkesi edestä (Absolution), 2015, 90 minutes, K-12 (Adults and mature teens)

Questions of personal morality are raised in this story of a priest who engages in deception in order to protect his pregnant wife from the consequences of an accident for which she is unknowingly responsible.  Their relationship is tested as the truth seeps out and as the accident victim’s wife becomes consumed with righting the wrongs done her.

June 28/30 Tuntematon sotilas (The Unknown Solider), 1955, 169 minutes, K-11 (Adults and mature teens)

Could there be a more fitting recognition of the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence than the showing of  this classic film version of Väinö Linna’s beloved novel?   The setting is the Continuation War, which began 76 years ago this month.  The perspective is that of the ordinary soldier on the front lines.  Note this film’s unusual length.

July/August  Contact the Swedish Club for summer film programming at www/

September 27/29  Keisarikunta (Harbor Brothers), 2004, 94 minutes, K-3 (Adults and teens)

This good-natured, all-star film depicts the musical scene in Kotka during the 1950’s.  We follow a band influenced by American jazz, blues and boogie woogie as its members work to overcome their personal problems and their internal differences in order to make sweet music together. Audience members are in for a musical treat as well..

October 25/27  Laukaus tehtaalla (A Shot in the Factory), 1973, 79 minutes, K-7 (Adults and mature teens)

Erkko Kivikoski won a Best Director Jussi for this slice of Finnish social realism about  factory workers who discover their jobs are in jeopardy when there is a change in ownership from an established local family to a global corporation.  Done in documentary style, this film, made more than four decades ago, is sadly relevant today.

November  22/December 1  Isänmaallinen mies (A Patriotic Man), 2013, 92 minutes, K-12 (Adults and mature teens)

An ordinary Finnish citizen becomes  valuable to his sports-loving country when it is discovered that his blood – super rich in hemoglobin – may be transfused to members of the Finnish National Ski Team, thus improving their chances of success.   Arto Halonen directed  this film and a tell-all documentary, Sinivalkoinen valhe — both on the subject of doping in Finland.

December 27/29  Hyvästi Afrikka (Leaving Africa), 2015, 85 minutes, K-7 (Adults and teens)

In this heartfelt documentary by Iiris Härmä, a Finnish aid worker in Uganda and her native friend and cohort part after years of joint efforts on behalf of local women’s rights.   When their work challenges traditional norms about male-female relationships, ugly rumors are directed at them, threatening the progress they have made together.







The films shown in 2016 are listed below:

January 27/29 Eedenistä pohjoiseen (Garden Lovers), 2014, 73 minutes, S (Parental Guidance).
Honored with a Jussi as Best Documentary in 2015, this beautiful film takes us into the lush gardens and into the lives of those who create and maintain them all over Finland. Director Virpi Suutari demonstrates that, for many of these devoted gardeners, their gardens are an expression of their love for their partners or spouses. This film is a welcome antidote to the winter blues.

February 24/26 Punainen nauha (Red Ribbon), 2012, 75 minutes, K 7.
Appropriate for the month of valentines is this romantic comedy about middle-aged computer support specialist whose bland life is turned upside down by the appearance, in the Tax Office where he works, of a woman with a red ribbon in her hair. In his quest to win her over, he seeks help from a fellow worker, with very mixed and laughter-producing results.

March 23/25 Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys, 2014, 84 minutes, Parental Guidance
Funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign as well as a grant from Finlandia Foundation, this revealing documentary takes us into the lives of Aarne and Lasse Aatsinki, the Arctic cowboys of the title, as they tend their reindeer herd over a year’s time in Finnish Lapland. Jessica Oreck, who produced, wrote and directed Aatsinki, has obvious regard for her subjects and their way of life.

April 27/29 Ariel, 1988, 69 minutes, K-11
Finland’s best known director, Aki Kaurismäki, turns 59 this month, and there is no better way to celebrate that than with his fifth and arguably finest film. There have been many Finnish road movies made since Ariel, but this is the model, as an un-employed coal miner heads south to an uncertain future. Named Best Foreign Language Film in 1991 by the National Society of Film Critics.

May 25/27 Kohtaamisia (Heart Beats), 2009, 86 minutes, K 7 (Adults and Mature Teens)
Closely coinciding with Mother’s Day is this rich story of the intersecting lives of a number of Finnish women – mothers and daughters, mothers and granddaughters, co-workers and friends. Nominated for numerous Jussi awards, including Best Director, for Saara Cantell’s sensitive work with her splendid cast. Note to men: this is not a “chick flick.”

June 22/24 Miehen kuva (Portrait of a Man), 2010, 81 minutes, K 3 (Parental Guidance)
This is the last in a trilogy of documentaries by Visa Koiso-Kanttila to explore men’s lives in today’s Finland. As such, it is a fine complement to Father’s Day. On his way to examining the effects of a childhood tragedy on his approaching middle age, Kalle Rissanen talks intimately with family members, including his own son, and friends. Humor often finds its way into the conversation.

July/August Contact the Swedish Club for summer film programming at

September 28/30 From the Front to the West Coast: The Recollections of the Finnish War Veterans in Vancouver, 2012, 66 minutes, Parental Guidance
The subtitle pretty well sums up the content of this documentary, based on interviews with the shrinking population of survivors of Finland’s wars who settled in Canada. Director Satu Bell will attend the September 28 screening to talk about the making of the film.

October 26/28 Aleksis Kiven elämä (The Life of Aleksis Kivi), 2001, 101 minutes, ST (Parental Guidance)
Born 182 years ago this month, Aleksis Kivi remains one of Finland’s great national literary figures, with Nummisuutarit (Cobblers of the Heath) playing at the National Theater and Seitsemän veljestä (Seven Brothers) in dance form at the National Ballet. Director Jari Halonen succeeds in situating Kivi’s life story in the cross-currents of the time in which he lived and wrote.

November 23/25 Yhden tähden hotelli (One Star Hotel), 2007, 73 minutes, K 3 (Parental Guidance)
Named Best Documentary at the Jussi awards in 2008, this story of one rocker’s life on the road will provide a well-deserved break from Thanksgiving preparations. The camera follows Jorma Kääriäinen and his band, the Agents, as they crisscross Finland playing one-night gigs. Kääriänen reflects on the tension between his love of playing music for others and being with the family at home.

December 28-30 Onni von Sopanen, 2006, 91 minutes, K 3 (Parental Guidance)
This family film is ideal for the holidays. Onni, the title character, is an 11-year-old boy who, like many children, begins to wonder if he is really the child of his parents. Added to his pre-teen angst is difficulty in dealing with a new and foreign-born boy at school. Director Joanna Vuoksenmaa finds both the comedy and the warmth in Onni’s experiences in growing up.