Susanna Helke, FINLAND, 2022, 92'
Fri. 5.8.2022, 11h00, La Sala
Sat. 6.8.2022, 9h00, Palacinema 1

en / it / de / fr

“Have you eaten your dinner yet?” – “Yes, the microwave has just stopped.” In the dark, a woman questions elderly people via a computer screen. The tone is as pleasant as the pace of their exchanges is efficient. Without transition, nature. Retired people walk in an immense, majestic landscape and then sing opposite the camera that accompanies them in a slow travelling movement. Then, we see two men sitting in a small kitchen. They worry about the fate of their respective wife in a residence for the elderly. The framework of Susanna Helke’s “Ruthless Times – Songs of Care” is soon set, and then fragmentally contextualised with intertitles.

In the spring of 2018, the Kaavi City Council in north-eastern Finland decided to introduce mostly remote medical and psychological follow-up of the elderly. It is this sector in crisis that the documentary of the Finnish filmmaker depicts through a succession of sequences in which scenes of daily life alternate with choral songs. The latter are almost oneiric but still reflect reality. The lyrics were written based on anonymous testimonies by caregivers. They highlight the agony resulting from understaffed teams, dehumanising methods and all the problems related to budget cuts and rationalised activities that leave only little room for authentic human exchanges.

In this poignant musical documentary, we see visits in the form of video conferences, and robots that are starting to make their appearance in the long corridors of medical centres, always in a poetic distance engendered by music that gives a semblance of hope to a world that seems to be dying before its time.

Adrien Kuenzy