Future Frames 2017 Interview: Kirsikka Saari (Director of After The Reunion)

Originating in Finland's Aalto University, Kirsikka Saari's After The Reunion is a bittersweet treatise on aging that is typified by a naturalistic style and some strong performances. You can read a review of the film HERE

Saari has had a distinguished career before After The Reunion, scripting a number of well reagrded films before stepping behind the camera for her directorial debut short Boyfriend (2013). Saari will be one of the 10 filmmakers taking part in European Film Promotion's Future Frames which takes place at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Cineuropa Shorts asked her what she will be looking forward to as part of it.

Cineuropa Shorts: Can you begin by telling us a little bit more about yourself and your background in filmmaking?
Kirsikka Saari: I studied history and worked as a journalist before I found my guts and turned into what I really love – filmmaking. I have founded a production company Tuffi Films with my colleagues. Our first short film together was Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? (my script, Selma Vilhunen directed it), which was Oscar nominated, what a surprise and joy. I’ve only recently turned into directing, and I really love it.

CS: After the Reunion is a bittersweet treatise on growing old and dealing with change. Where did the idea come from?
KS: Our relationship to aging is contradictory, which makes it interesting. We praise aging and experience, and at the same time we’d like to look young. I find it horrible how aging actresses are shamed by media. I wanted to do an honest film about a woman trying to deal with aging and trying to figure out who she is now.

CS: Saila is a difficult role being slightly bitter and disenchanted yet also sympathetic. How did you go about finding the right person for that role?
KS: Sari Siikander is an amazing actress, and I thought that there is both joyous and serious side in her. She’s been doing a lot of musical theatre and comedies, so this was a chance for her to do something else. She was active in commenting the script, which I really appreciated.

CS: The film appears slightly washed out and grey which seems to be a reflection of the dullness Saila. Was that a deliberate decision to go for a naturalistic air.
KS: The film is about a truthful moment between two people who hardly know each other. Saila is starting to see herself as she really is. So, there was no other way to do it than to go for naturalistic air. I wanted the film to be realistic, but still somewhat light - and hopeful in the end, so no dark tones.

CS: Saila is somewhat disenchanted yet there’s still an air of hope. Was it difficult to balance the tone of the film between these moments of bitterness and hope?
KS: Bitterness and hope sometimes appear together: when people are complaining, they’re actually trying to figure out how to change the situation. Saila is lost in her life, but honesty and even despair can sometimes be first steps towards accepting yourself or changing your life.

CS: What does being picked for Future Frames mean to you? What do you hope to get out being at Karlovy Vary?
KS: I’m really happy and honored. It’s a great place to screen my film, to network and to get to know people. And to get inspired – I can’t wait to see all the other films.

CS: What will you be working on next?
KS: Currently I’m working on a feature-length comedy about an extended family. I’m also working on several short film projects. In Tuffi Films we’re preparing a series of short films (by 10 directors) called One-Off Incident, which deals with women’s bodies and power. As a screenwriter my next film is Stupid Young Heart, the director is Selma Vilhunen and the shootings start in the autumn.

01 July 2017, by Laurence Boyce