The 11th Docpoint festival was launched in the atmospheric city centre theatre Biorex by the Festival’s Executive Director Leena Närekangas and Artistic Director Erja Dammert, who is responsible for the film programming.
In her opening speech, Dammert pointed out that most documentary makers were idealists, concerned with making the world a better place. The Artistic Director gave special thanks to subjects of documentaries, who open their lives to the public’s gaze.
The thanks seemed especially apt in the case of the opening gala film After Life -- 4 Stories of Torture (2011). Director Mervi Junkkonen took to the podium to present the premiere of her film, which tells the harrowing tales of four immigrant men in Finland, scarred by torture in the countries they left behind.
Many of the men face an uncertain future, with their fates in the hands of Finnish immigration officials – as the visually arresting film testifies. Several of the men sat in the audience, while one had been deported back to his country, where he had since disappeared.
Docpoint awards YLE producer
Every year Docpoint presents the Apollo Award to a person who has made significant contributions to the Finnish documentary field. This year the award was given to Iikka Vehkalahti, veteran producer of YLE’s Dokumenttiprojekti, the national broadcaster’s long-running documentary slot.
A well known figure in the international documentary and broadcasting field, Vehkalahti was presented with the prize by one of Finland’s most awarded directors Pirjo Honkasalo, who herself received the same award some years before from Vehkalahti.
“We all know the film industry is cliquey,” Honkasalo joked, as she found herself at the giving end of the award this time round.
Over 130 films from all over the world are being screened in the festival, which runs until Sunday 29 January. Apart from showcasing the best new Finnish documentaries, the programme includes films dealing with the Arab uprisings, recent upheaval in Europe, and environmental devastation, among other thought-provoking views from around the globe.
The festival is also hosting several international director guests, who are attending screenings of their films.