women dancing
 Anerca, Breath of Life had its world premiere at the festival. Image: Giron-filmi

Swiss film festival awards Finnish documentaries

The judges at Switzerland’s Visions du Réel Festival have recognised a pair of Finnish documentaries: the feature-length Anerca, Breath of Life (Anerca, elämän hengitys) and the short film On Hold (Poikien puhelin).

Directed by the father-and-son duo Markku and Johannes Lehmuskallio, Anerca, Breath of Life was named the most innovative feature film at the annual event, held online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The jury applauded the film-makers’ efforts to explore the experience of indigenous cultures living in the Arctic Circle through dance and music.

“A film by a father and his son, a history of conquests and land exploitation we never heard of,” read a jury statement. “A film where ethnography is looking for a new mesmerising language, giving us the complexity of reality.”

The Jury Prize Région de Nyon award is worth approximately 10 000 euros.

Anerca, Breath of Life’s festival appearance was greeted with strong reviews. Screen Daily described it as “not so much a documentary as an attempt to connect with the soul of each of the cultures it visits”.

Competing in the International Medium Length and Short Film Competition, Laura Rantanen’s On Hold was named the most innovative short film.

Rantanen’s film depicts anonymous telephone calls made to a helpline for teenage boys. On Hold won the jury’s favour with its topicality and “its touching aspect which succeeds in transmitting multiple emotions”.

The Youth Jury Prize Mémoire Vive is valued at approximately 2 500 euros.

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