Maarit is a beautiful, intelligent and sexy woman – who used to be a man. Struck by the oddity of gender change, she is estranged from the daughter she fathered and from her previous life. When she meets and falls in love with Sami – soccer coach, teacher and family man – she finally feels like she can ‘fit in’ somewhere. But Sami is soon put to the test. In a world that considers Maarit a freak, Sami is forced to confront his own deeply hidden prejudices. And as for Maarit, with or without Sami, she has to step into a brave new world where only she can determine her sense of belonging.
Jury motivation: Most people view themselves as being tolerant. It is only in close encounters with people different from us that our true colors shine through. In this way Simo Halinen’s Open Up to Me is an utterly human, fine-tuned test of tolerance.
The main protagonist is a woman born in man’s body, Mauri, who has become Maarit after a sex reassignment surgery. Maarit, who has to battle with the societal pressures, is the real hero of the story with no evident baddies in it. Halinen, who both wrote and directed the film, shows great understanding towards human beings. Precise storytelling and excellent acting top off the intense whole.
National jury: Outi Heiskanen, Harri Römpötti, Johanna Grønqvist