Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival


Ruthless Times – Songs of Care

We have been instructed / not to comment on the employer / not to mention my name / nor the employer / I decided to change my profession / so that I would not have to / make daily / immoral decisions…

A choir of tired nurses sing to Anna-Mari Kähärä’s hypnotic tunes about the truths of everyday nursing work in a musical documentary directed by Susanna Helke and co-scripted by Helke and Markku Heikkinen. DocPoint’s opening film is new in its format, and jolting in its message. It is a cinematic-musical work of activism, calling for more humane work, life and old age.

Helke’s film is about the welfare of Finland, where both the elderly and their caregivers have it very bad. The story is driven by nurse Tiina, one of the first to highlight the problems in elderly care homes. Tiina, of course, was blacklisted by her employer for speaking out.

Surreal situations and tragicomic encounters are thrown in front of the audience. The care robot does not understand, and the voice of the carer cannot be heard during the remote lunch hour for the elderly. Yet the developers of smart solutions for elderly care nevertheless rejoice about the advances technology brings to care work. The film’s humour is blacker than black.

The residents of Kaavi watch powerlessly as the municipal nursing home is outsourced to a private company. In the process, the jobs and markets for local businesses are lost. The commercialisation of care benefits few – and those few are somewhere far away, in the headquarters of the care companies.

A chorus of withered pensioners sing with somber faces: “We are the shortfall of sustainability, we are the broad top of the upside-down pyramid”. There is no humour in this. The viewer is moved to tears.

Kati Juurus (translated by Lydia Taylerson)

Original Title: Armotonta menoa – Hoivatyön lauluja
Language: Finnish, English
Subtitles: English, Finnish
Length: 92 min
Age Limit: S
Year: 2022
Production Country: Finland

Director: Susanna Helke
Producer: Timo Korhonen
Production Company: Road Movies Oy
Screenplay: Markku Heikkinen, Susanna Helke
Editing: Markus Leppälä, Inka Lahti, Samu Kuukka
Cinematographer: Sari Aaltonen
Music: Anna-Mari Kähärä
Sound Design: Juuso Oksala