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Hannaleena Hauru: Screenwriter, director and producer

Hannaleena Hauru's film, Fucking with Nobody, premiered at Venice Film Festival as part of the Biennale College Cinema.
Hannaleena Hauru

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Hannaleena Hauru, a filmmaker. I am a screenwriter and a director for both TV and film. My background is in theater. While studying theater production in Tampere, I started taking courses in screenwriting. Through that, I realized that writing is my creative tool. Thus, I applied to the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. I graduated in 2011.

You have also taught students at Aalto University's ELO Film School. What is it like to teach young students in your own field?

I taught studio work to first-year students. I was blown away by the amount of students' self-reflection: they reflected on their learning with ease and gave each other immediate feedback. I still have a lot to learn about these things myself. I don't want to be the teacher who pours their past traumas on students. 

Tell us about your latest feature film, Fucking with Nobody. 

It all began at the Venice Biennale College Cinema, a training programme lasting a year. The programme is meant for teams composed of a director and a producer. Hence, Emilia Haukka was involved from the start.

The Biennale tutors were terrific. There were some well-known figures of the European art film scene involved. We received continuous and extensive feedback from our tutors from the script stage to the production and editing stages. After teaching us, our tutors came together at the end of each day to think about the next steps for each tutor group.

This is the way of working that I would like to see more in teaching environments and the film industry. If professors don't talk to each other about the coursework, or if you get different feedback from three different financiers because they haven't discussed it together.

Fucking with Nobody is my second feature film after Lauri Mäntyvaara's Thick Eyelashes. Before these, I had done a lot of TV and short films, such as Metatitanic, a 45-minute essay film. If you compare Fucking with Nobody to my previous short films or Thick Lashes, you can perhaps say that I have wanted to please larger audiences more in the past. So when making Fucking with Nobody, we had a different attitude. We made just the kind of movie we wanted to see ourselves.

How to become a great film director?

I don't know. Besides Aalto, I have been involved in film organization activities and various open learning environments. Of course, a lot happens in your bubble, but it is good to keep yourself aware of the world around you as well.

The Kino Euphoria filmmaking community has been important to me. At Kino Euphoria, you get to mess around with filmmaking ideas in the way that is typical for creative industries – like musicians have their jam sessions. I also attend international film festivals regularly and have previously been a member of the NISI MASA European Network of Young Cinema.

When it comes to application processes, inclusivity and diversity are really important. Without an understanding of these things, Aalto will miss out on a lot of talent. For example, Finnish screenwriter-director Kadar Ahmed didn't make it to ELO, as his Finnish wasn't yet good enough. The application processes may not be revolutionized overnight, but only a homogenous group of people will continue to apply and make it to the industry without addressing the issue and actively trying to change the system.

Fortunately, progress has been made. It has been great to note that the Theater Academy, for example, is starting a new dramaturgy program, which will be done in collaboration with five different art universities and aim to meet the need for decolonization. Traditionally, universities have been organized according to colonial structures, and it is great to see the problem finally being addressed. I am actually starting my studies in that program this fall.

First-time directors are often seen as the next big thing and a kind of a Messiah – if they are men. In a way, I could be jealous; I never get called that. But on the other hand, I am also relieved. That pressure is, of course, pretty unfair when the headlines scream how much is to be expected of your first feature film. I get to work in peace. 

On the other hand, I have been making these kinds of films for ten years, and it is a little depressing that every interview always states that such films are not made in Finland. I am always marginal. 

As a producer, I notice attitudes of post-taistoism that affect the filmmaking industry. For example, many filmmakers think that the producer is an evil capitalist. Such attitudes still exist in both the film and theatre industry – but hopefully to a declining extent.

Of course, my own naivety must also be admitted - it has been wonderful to spend time in the European art film scene and see that there is still cinematic art. But, of course, it is also really harsh to notice how calculated a director should be if they want to make a successful art film. Arthouse is its own kind of industry, as well. 

Where is the most interesting film currently being made?

I saw a tremendous Norwegian film At the South by Southwest festival. The Nordic film certainly resonates wth me. At the Tampere Short Film Festival, I got acquainted with the Academy of Moving People and Images, funded by the Kone Foundation, and I look forward to what they will make in the future. There is also a lot of exciting stuff in the depths of YouTube.

Additionally, everything that is being done in Kino Euphoria's short film workshops. I also look forward to seeing Kino Euphoria filmmakers' work with a longer film format in the future.

Read more about Hannaleena' movies, interviews and watch her short movies:
Hannaleena Hauru – screenwriter, director

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