A quick guide to young Finnish cinema

Finnish cinema is known for its blunt expression, melancholy colour grading, characters and grey atmosphere. The Finnish filmmaking is still very young, it is still exploring its style and place. Though, the Finnish short films are emerging and have been doing so for the past years, as the selections in Tampere Film Festival and Helsinki Short Film Festivals have broadened in several categories.

There are a few to catch if one wishes to see an interesting take on emerging cinema in Finland. Only a few feature films have been a success. To understand more about the nature and style of Finnish cinema, I have gathered a list of must-sees from the 2000s:


1. A Man Without A Past, 2002

A winner of the Cannes Grand Prix in 2002, the film is the most notable one in the Finnish film industry. Kaurismäki directed several films before this breakthrough-film of his. Since, he has directed only directed two feature films.

A Man Without A Past is a great glimpse into the mindset of a middle-aged man in Helsinki. Moreover, the film features references to Finnish culture with music for example. The film is a must see and you will probably end up watching it more than once.


2. They Have Escaped, 2014

You know Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom? Take that, enhance with a touch of indie cinema, replace some bright colours with earthly colours, set language to Finnish and add abstract ending.

They Have Escaped will be remembered as a classic of the 2010s. It tackles important topics but also gives a lot of room for audience to interpret the characters as they please. It is fairly easy to adapt to the teenagers story and lose yourself to their quest. The film is honest but also dreamy and it makes you want to put your boots on and go for a run in the forest.

Best thing about They Have Escaped is the cinematography – it’s utterly beautiful and well-considered. Some slow motion scenes tickle the cinematographer inside you.


3. Steam of Life, 2010

This documentary follows the stories of several men around Finland while they open up and share their life stories in the sauna. The film is shot almost entirely in steaming conditions, inside the sauna, while everyone is naked, which can be imagined to be quite of a challenge for both the people as well as the filming equipment.

The legendary story goes, there are more saunas than cars in Finland, which is supposedly true. After seeing this film one understands why. Saunas enclose hundreds of stories – some were born in a sauna, some came there to calm down, the politicians even took visitors there. Sauna has become the place for trust, understanding and sharing in the Finnish culture. What would a cold and dark winter be like without the saunas.


Have films in mind that you have seen from Finland? Drop it on the comment box below!

What do you think?

Our Correspondent
Cult Finland correspondent
Janne - Rovaniemi

I'm Janne, currently residing in the capital of Lapland in Rovaniemi. Life has taken me to live in places such as Costa Rica, Bosnia & Herzegovina and France for the past years. Lately I decided to settle down for a while and ...

More about Janne
All correspondents
Follow this place
About Finland
About this place

Continent: Europe
Capital: Helsinki
Population: 5,244,000
Area: 337,030 km2
Currency: Euro
Languages: Finnish, Swedish

Time in Helsinki
11:58 am

Weather in Helsinki

Distance from you