A father-and-son road trip morphs into a musical journey examining the fraught history of Finnish immigration in Sweden in the modest but touching docu “Finnish Blood, Swedish Heart.” The best film yet from helmer Mika Ronkainen (“Screaming Men,” “Freetime Machos”), the pic uses vintage songs to delve into distressing memories shared by many Swedish Finns, involving shame, guilt, crime and alcoholism. With its playful form and emotional content, this deserving winner of Gothenburg’s Nordic docu prize should appeal to the international auds that enjoyed Finnish sauna pic “Steam of Life.”Fortyish musician Kai Latvalehto, founder of the now-defunct band Aknestik, has an adorable son and a happy marriage, but still feels rootless. Perhaps his feeling stems from a childhood spent in Sweden, after which he returned to Finland as a teen. As taciturn Latvalehto and his dad, Tauno, drive from Oulu, Finland, to their former home in Gothenburg, their painfully honest conversations are punctuated by songs written in the 1970s by first-generation Finnish immigrants to Sweden ; these are performed live, in sprightly stagings, by second-generation Swedish-Finnish musicians. Tech credits are fine; appealing musical performances deserve a soundtrack album.
Documentary - Finland-Sweden-Norway-France
A Pirkanmaan elokuvakeskus release (in Finland) of a Klaffi Film prods., Hysteria Film production with the support of Swedish Film Institute, SVT, YLE, Finnish Film Foundation, AVEK, ESEK, Nordic Film & TV Fund, Arte Geie. (International sales: Klaffi Film, Helsinki.) Produced by Ulla Simonen. Executive producers, Mika Ronkainen, Kimmo Paananen. Co-producer, Antonio Russo Merenda. Directed, written by Mika Ronkainen.
Camera (HD color), Vesa Taipaleenmaki; editor, Asa Mossberg; music, Anna Jarvinen, Darya Pakarinen, Love Antell, Markus Fagervall, Mirella Hautala, Manskensorkestern, Hannu Kiviaho, Heikki Kiviaho, Harri Manty, Jukka Takalo; sound (5.1 Dolby Digital), Janne Huotari, Juha-Pekka Leppaluto; sound designer, Esa Nissi. Running time: 90 MIN. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (competing), Feb. 3, 2013.
Kai Latvalehto, Tauno Latvalehto, Oiva Latvalehto. (Finnish, Swedish dialogue)