The aim was to address the theme of intergenerationality through the calls on five different levels: in the film, intergenerational is understood as a spiritual heritage passed down from one generation to the next; to go through and cope with difficult things; the timelessness of certain problems; an ongoing re-building of identity and a national historical project through which certain attitudes and values are repeated and maintained.
‘These themes, however, are just the authors’ goals and reasons for making the film. Each viewer sees the film from his or her own point of view and therefore it opens up differently to different people’, Rantanen reminds.
Older men give their voice for the boys
Rantanen tells the film team had to consider how to best protect the anonymity of the callers in the film. The solution was that the voices of boys and young men calling the conversation service are presented mainly by men over the age of 60.
At the same time, using older performers as faces and voices for the callers is a way to make visible the film’s underlying theme, the intergenerational and historical nature of attitudes, values, and emotions. These men, too, have been young boys with their questions and problems.
The performers are ordinary people, for whom for example memorizing the phone discussions was challenging, and performing in front of the camera required courage, Rantanen tells. Furthermore, the question of how hate speech—that the calls also included—should be presented in the document needed a lot of attention.
‘There was a danger that repeating hate speech would at the same time normalize language that glorified racism, homophobia or violence—and that we did not want to do.’
A documentary with its own voice
The film is the thesis of editor Menni Renvall's master's studies. She was involved in the planning and production of the documentary from the script. The film consists mainly of monologues depicted in a single shot, so her job was to rearrange these scenes, to reflect on the overall dramaturgy of the film and various experiments with archival material.
‘For a final work, this was an absolutely ideal film: a documentary with its own voice and style.’
On Hold is a hybrid film that draws on several different genres of the film as well as ways of watching it. It has numerous audiovisual role models from which the documentary draws its presence.
‘Visions du Réel’s world premiere opened the festival tour for the film and it will be screened at several international film festivals next autumn’, says producer Anna Mellin.
The documentary has been directed by Laura Rantanen, cinematographed by Tomi Rislakki, edited by Menni Renvall, sound designed by Iivo Korhonen and produced by Anna Mellin.
The film has been supported by the City of Espoo Cultural Office and the Finnish Film Foundation with a screenwriting grant. The Visions du Réel festival was held online this year due to the corona situation.
For more information:
Director Laura Rantanen, Department of Film, Television and Scenography, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, tel. +358 44 982 4737, [email protected]
Producer Anna Mellin, Department of Film, Television and Scenography, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, [email protected]