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Hilton! – Here For Life

2013 DOK Leipzig, International Competition Documentary Film
Finland | 2013 | 75 min. | Finnish | English subtitles | German Premiere
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Hilton! – Here For Life | Hilton! – Täällä ollaan elämä

The future? A bullet in the head. At least that’s what it feels like when you’re stranded at the “Hilton” council estate, a derelict new development in Helsinki. The people who live here aren’t 30 yet but have seen everything. They feel anger and a sadness that refuses to come out as grief but must be vented. By hitting one’s head against a wooden beam again and again. By hurting oneself or simply stopping to go out and getting used to it. People here sleep with a knife under their pillow because they have never learnt anything else, and tear up bills because it doesn’t make a difference anyway.
Virpi Suutari, emerging from the magic school of Finnish documentary cinema, doesn’t see welfare cases but individuals: Janne, Toni, Mira, Pete, and Make. While their stories, which almost inevitable lead downwards, are told, they begin to shine. The visuals are rough, nothing polished, the montage as impulsive as the protagonists’ emotions or the flash-like mobile phone images they shot themselves. Not a whiff of social romanticism, and yet the camera finds moments of purity, restfulness and warmth, a community that redefines the middle-class idea of the family. A child is born. It’s mostly owing to the power of Suutari’s narrative that this story ends in hope.

Grit Lemke
Original Title: Hilton! – Täällä ollaan elämä
Country: Finland
Year: 2013
Language: Finnish
Subtitle: English
Runtime: 75 min.
Format: DCP
Color: Colour
Director: Virpi Suutari
Producer: Markku Tuurna
Cinematographer: Heikki Färm
Editor: Jussi Rautaniemi
Script: Virpi Suutari
Music: Matti Pentikäinen, Arto Tuunela
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The texts to the Documentary Competition films and the International Programme films were written by the members of the selection committee. All quotes from DOK Leipzig catalogue articles must be identified as such and cite the author’s name. All articles where no author’s name is given are production notes.