Joonas Berghall and Mika Hotakainen interviewed a dozen Finnish men as they sat in saunas and steam rooms, opening up to each other and the filmmaker team (a total of five extra naked men in each room when you factor in co-directors, cinematographer, sound recordist and camera operator) about hardships they've faced in life. Their stories range from harrowing to merely reflecting the complexities and frustrations modern men face trying to remain stoic and resilient despite being occasionally overwhelmed with the tragedy and beauty of life. The few moments of levity, a sardonic splash of water onto hot coals, a synchronized beer gulp and the gleeful reveal that one man keeps a grizzly bear as a pet, give relief when it's needed. No one in the room tries to soothe the person speaking or provide a greater context for their experiences. They stand back and give them the space to talk and with that comes an immediate, visible sense of catharsis. The filmmakers match the experience by keeping the shots simple, and the cutting in elegant, long takes.
Joonas Berghall was born in 1977 in Kemi. Producer, film director. Graduated in Film Producing from School of Art and Media at Tampere University of Applied Sciences in 2005. Since 2004, he has been running the company “Oktober”. He has been involved in film making since 1998.
Mika Hotakainen was born in 1977. Graduated as a fiction director in 2004 from a four-year educational program at the Helsinki Polytechnic University, Stadia. Mika has been working in the television and film industry since 1998.
Freedom to Serve (2004), Steam of Life (2010)