In Steam of Life, naked Finnish men in saunas speak straight from the heart and in the warmth of rusty stoves, cleanse themselves both physically and mentally. The film travels through Finland joining men of all walks of life in many different saunas to let us hear their touching stories about love, death, birth and friendship, in short, about life.
Jury motivation: Finnish men open their hearts in the documentary Steam of Life. When directors Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen give the quiet man time to talk in the safe warmth of the sauna, the result is a surprising film, at once non-Finnish and universal. In a variety of saunas, we meet different men who, in an open and naked way, let us become part of their destiny. We hear about love and death, joy and sorrow, experience genuine friendship and warm humour. The documentary also makes a journey through Finland, where the majestic landscape intersperses with images of the most unlikely sauna constructions, a country in which imaginative male heart-rending stories are waiting for a listener. It all culminates in a physical and mental cleansing. Naked on the sauna benches, we are all equal. Steam of Life shows that reality can be hotter than fiction.
National jury: Johanna Grönqvist & Kati Sinisalo