Screenings: FRI—February 24 through FRI—March 3, free
Virtual Panel: TUE—February 28—12-1 PM ET, free
Join us on February 28 at 12 PM ET for a special webinar on gender equality in film alongside virtual screenings of the film Force of Habit/ Tottumiskysymys (Finland, 2019; dir. Kirsikka Saari, Elli Toivoniemi, Anna Paavilainen, Alli Haapasalo, Reetta Aalto, Jenni Toivoniemi, Miia Tervo), on view from Friday, February 24 through Thursday, March 2.
Scandinavia House, Finlandia Foundation’s Young Leaders Board and The Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C. will present a discussion on gender and equality within the Finnish film industry with directors, researchers, and industry professionals from both Finland and the United States, using the film Force of Habit [Tottumiskysymys] (2019) as a starting point for the discussion. This panel on February 28 will address how gender and equality play out in the film, as well as the Finnish and Nordic film industries more broadly. Targeted especially at students and young professionals, the event offers the opportunity to learn more and discuss modern Finnish film, and where experts believe the field to be heading.
Speakers include Force of Habit co-director Reetta Aalto, Anu Koivunen (Professor of Gender Studies, University of Turku), Benjamin Mier-Cruz (Assistant Professor of Scandinavian Studies and Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Marjo Pipinen (Communications Specialist, Finnish Film Foundation), and Liina-Ly Roos (Assistant Professor of Scandinavian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison). Register here.
Streaming virtually from Friday, February 24 through Thursday, March 2 and based on seven short films from Yksittäistapaus (the Force of Habit Anthology Series), which portrays women’s everyday experiences with imbalances of power, Force of Habit follows seven different women who experience sexual harassment, judgement, underrating and exclusion throughout the course of one day.
Hilla is on a romantic vacation; Emmi is throwing a house party; and Milja is on the bus heading to school — when each of them is approached by a stranger, things take an unexpected turn. At the same time, the young actress Emppu is conflicted as she rehearses for a career-making role that causes her discomfort; Niina, a crime victim who has waited years to see her case tried, finds herself with an inexperienced prosecutor assigned to her last-minute; and Miia, as she’s throwing a company party, sees the mood changed dramatically after her colleague Katja opens up about sexual harassment in the workplace. How will others react? And is it really possible that these things happen all around us every day?
With conviction and honesty, but also with a liberating humor, the female director-collective behind Force of Habit uncover, and encourage us to fight, the oppressive structures in our time. Winner of awards including Best International Feature and Best Screenplay at Raindance Film Festival; written and directed by Kirsikka Saari, Elli Toivoniemi, Anna Paavilainen, Alli Haapasalo, Reetta Aalto, Jenni Toivoniemi, Miia Tervo (75 min. In Finnish and English with English subtitles). “An electrifying reminder that sexual abuse and harassment are everyday phenomena” (AWFJ)
About the Panelists
Reetta Aalto (co-director of Force of Habit) is a Helsinki-based film director and screenwriter of both fiction and documentary films. Her work as a screenwriter and director include the documentary film Grey Violet – Odd One Out (2017), which premiered at the Hot Docs Film Festival, and the award-winning internet-hit animation Pussy for Beginners (2015). Her most recent directorial work is the feature comedy Laughing Matters (2020) written by Anna Ruohonen.
Anu Koivunen is a professor of Gender Studies in the School of History, Culture and Arts Studies at the University of Turku. She is a docent in Media Culture at the University of Tampere as well as in Cinema and TV Studies and Women’s Studies at the University of Helsinki. Her research focuses on media, affect, and feminist media studies, gender and politics, cultural media studies, and journalism studies.
Benjamin Mier-Cruz is an assistant professor of Scandinavian studies and gender and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their research examines Nordic writers and filmmakers of colour and intersectional representations of gender, sexuality and race. A current book project explores contemporary representations of non-Whiteness in Swedish documentary films and visual culture.
Marjo Pipinen works in the Communications Department of the Finnish Film Foundation, the biggest public film funding body in Finland. They have Master of Arts degree in Cinema Studies from Stockholm University.
Liina-Ly Roos is an assistant professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She specializes in Nordic and Baltic film, television, literary and cultural studies, with a specific focus on migration, race and ethnicity, sexual politics, postcolonial and childhood studies.
Yksittäistapaus short films are a film sensation created collectively by fifteen filmmakers, artists, researchers and social influencers. Yksittäistapaus is a collection of short films, a feature film titled Force of Habit and a campaign linked to them, that reveal the hidden way power is exercised on women in both private life and in society. The short films are fiction but the scripts are derived from the writers’ own observations from real life. The films depict everyday moments that we have learnt to see as normal but that prove to be absurd under closer examination.
Yksittäistapaus was put into motion in late spring 2016, before the #MeToo movement. Film production company Tuffi Films’ founders Elli Toivoniemi and Kirsikka Saari called together a group of film industry professionals, artists, researchers and social influencers to make short films of their own observations. The purpose was for the films to give a physical form for “that thing”, the incidents that were regarded as a one-off but that were, in reality, caused by power structures and our unconscious operating models. Of the eleven stories of Yksittäistapaus, six were used as the basis for the feature film Force of Habit.
The screenwriters and/or directors of the films included (in alphabetical order) Reetta Aalto, Maryan Abdulkarim, Tine Alavi, Alli Haapasalo, Ulla Heikkilä, Sonya Lindfors, Inari Niemi, Raisa Omaheimo, Anna Paavilainen, Kirsikka Saari, Aino Suni, Saara Särmä, Miia Tervo, Elli Toivoniemi and Jenni Toivoniemi.
The objective of the influencing and impact work is use the films in order to provide insights and observations of gendered power dynamics and offer tools for processing and verbalizing it as well as for defining a new normal.
The films and the related discussion materials can be used by working communities, universities, schools and other organizations as well as for independent studying. To see discussion materials related to the film, please click here.