My Father From Sirius: Two generations, two different worlds
by Laurence Boyce
- The touching Finnish documentary about a man confronting his father’s beliefs, directed by Einari Paakkanen, had its international premiere at the Warsaw Film Festival
At the very beginning of Einari Paakkanen’s My Father From Sirius [+see also:
interview: Einari Paakkanen
film profile], which had its international premiere in the documentary competition of the 32nd Warsaw Film Festival, we are told, “Einari’s childhood could have been like that of any other Finnish boy, but everything changed when his father was enlightened and started communicating with light beings from Outer Space”. From this it would be easy to expect a documentary that pokes fun at its protagonist’s eccentricities. Instead, this deeply personal film is a gentle exploration of a relationship between father and son and the power of belief.
Einari returns to his childhood home to spend time with his mother and his father, Veikko. As a child Einari shared Veikko’s world of extra-terrestrials and the supernatural, with the two forming a bond that they shared through the mysteries of the universe. But, as an adult, Einari is no longer convinced he believes his father. Now he must confront him and find out whether their relationship will ever be the same.
Director Einari Paakkanen creates a bittersweet portrait of his father. Showing the positive side of his beliefs (many members of the neighbourhood cheerfully admit how they have been healed by Veikko, without any rational explanation) alongside the more isolating ones (such as the constant disappointments when promises made by Veikko’s sprirt guides don’t come to fruition), the film never disparages Veikko.
Indeed, it is more of a lament of the loss of faith as Einari’s lack of belief leads him to the crisis that drives much of the movie.
Shot in a raw and intimate style, the film is dryly funny as well as cleverly put together. Produced by Pohjola-filmi and sold internationally by Germany’s Rise and Shine World Sales, My Father from Sirius, with its mix of the highly personal and the enjoyably quirky, should find itself a popular one on the documentary festival circuit after its recent world premiere in Helsinki followed by its presence at Warsaw.
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