The Ateneum to produce 13 short films featuring classic works in the Stories of Finnish Art exhibition

The Ateneum Art Museum announces the first short films featuring some of the key works in the Stories of Finnish Art exhibition. The first films in the series present familiar classics. Two of these, namely Helene Schjerfbeck’s The Convalescent (1888) and Eero Järnefelt’s Under the Yoke (Burning the Brushwood) (1893), are currently touring Finland as part of the Classics on Tour 2017 project. All 13 films in the series will be completed in 2017, and they will be produced in both Finnish and Swedish. English-language versions of the films will be made available later.

The films will show familiar classics in a new light. The camera picks up details on the surface of the works that are not visible to the naked eye. This reveals new aspects of familiar works: brushstrokes, highlight colours and surprising details. The films are narrated by the actress Jonna Järnefelt.

In addition to The Convalescent and Under the Yoke (Burning the Brushwood), the series will feature the classic romantic portrayal of folk life, Robert Wilhelm Ekman’s Pentti Lyytinen recites poems in a cottage in Savo (1848); Erik Johan Löfgren’s iconic historical painting Erik XIV and Karin Månsdotter (1864); Ferdinand von Wright’s The Fighting Capercaillies (1886); Ellen Thesleff’s sensitive Self-Portrait (1894–95); Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s Lemminkäinen’s Mother (1897); and Hugo Simberg’s Towards the Evening (1913).

“Making an expressive film series was one of our goals. We selected for the series classics of Finnish art that represent landscapes, folk-life depictions, historical paintings, the world of the Kalevala epic, and new trends in art in the fin-de-siècle. We want to ensure that the works are available to audiences through as many channels as possible. Film is one of these channels”, says the Museum Director, Susanna Pettersson, who is responsible for the production of the films and the selection of works featured in them.

The films were directed by Terhi Amberla, filmed by the Cinematographer and Photographer Hannu Pakarinen from the Finnish National Gallery, and scripted by the Special Researcher Anja Olavinen from the Ateneum. The visual design is by Amberla and Pakarinen. Amberla, Pakarinen and Pettersson have previously made three documentary films together, dealing with the history of art collecting in Finland. Of these, Intohimona taide. Paul ja Fanny Sinebrychoff keräilijöinä (‘Art as a passion. Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff as collectors’; YLE/FST 2003) won an award for creativity at the 2004 International Film Festival on Art (Festival International du Film sur l’Art) in Montréal, and an honourable mention in the Finnish Broadcasting Company’s Koura television awards.

“Each film has its own artistic and experiential character, and its own rhythm, mood, visual approach, and sonic landscape. We are deliberately using long takes, as viewers need time to look at and experience these works of art. I sought to make the viewing experience similar to that of being at the museum, where viewers can decide for themselves how long they spend enjoying each work”, says the director Terhi Amberla.

The films can be viewed at the Ateneum museum premises, on the museum website, or on the Ateneum’s YouTube channel (so far in Finnish and Swedish). There will also be special screenings of the films. In addition, the films featuring The Convalescent and Under the Yoke (Burning the Brushwood) will tour Finland with the actual works, in accordance with the Classics on Tour 2017 schedule.

The making of the films was sponsored by Veikkaus and the Friends of the Ateneum Art Museum.

DIRECTOR Terhi Amberla
VISUAL CONCEPT Terhi Amberla and Hannu Pakarinen
SCREENPLAY Anja Olavinen
EDITING Ville Koivuranta
SOUND DESIGN Zacharias Kullman
MUSIC Juri Seppä
NARRATOR Jonna Järnefelt
MUSICIANS Riikka Lampinen, cello, Annariina Seppä & Venla Seppä, vocals and Juri Seppä, piano
POST-PRODUCTION Petri Riikonen / Post Control
PRODUCER Susanna Pettersson, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum