Soile Räihä, translation
Iris Olsson works on documentaries full time.
A three week train journey was not a vacation for Iris Olsson. Director Olsson and her international film crew shot a short film of the Russian passengers on the Trans-Siberian train. The film was shot at night.
– It was like being in a secret society. I tried to hold the lamp so that none of the 60 people aboard would wake up, Olsson describes.
The film crew tried to get some sleep during the day, while hundreds of other passengers ate, chatted, and changed to others at the right stations. Eventually a creative documentary film, a ten minute long Between Dreams, emerged from the vast 14 hour footage.
Iris Olsson, 27, fell for documentaries already at the upper level of comprehensive school. She filmed her first documentary at the age of 13.
– The fictional stories that I tried to film, didn't feel real. At the time I didn't even know what a documentary film was.
Olsson has sat by and watched filmmaking from her childhood, because her father is film director Claes Olsson.
– Having father in the the film industry, influenced mainly on the fact that this profession even seemed possible.
Sleeping passenger on the Trans-Siberian train.
This year Olsson works on documentaries full time: she has the locum post of documentary director at the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE). After that she will concentrate on her diploma work at the University of Art and Design Helsinki. It will also be a travelogue.
At first the documentary, which was filmed between Moscow and Vladivostok, was supposed to be on the passengers' hopes and dreams. At some point the interpreter made a mistake and the theme translated into the actual dreams that people have at night.
People were eager to talk about them on the nocturnal train. The dream tales became the narrator of the film. The camera shoots takes of the sleepers and agonizing insomniacs.
One Russian woman was a particularly memorable passenger: she told the crew about her son, who was sent to jail.
– Then I realized just how much people need someone to listen. We discussed something totally different when she suddenly had the need to tell me about her son. She told her story and then left the train.
The film begins with a half minute long take of train tracks. It took the whole night to shoot the clip from the railway engine.
– We got into the engine at the beginning of the night. It was eight hours later when the train stopped next time, and so we finally got off.
Sometimes they had to talk with the interviewees for two hours to get two sentences that fitted in the film.
– We belonged to a different nationality, so it took time to get to the point because of all the courtesy.
The crew managed to film two or three sleepers during one night. Naturally, people had to be asked permission to actually use the footage.
– Sometimes when we filmed people in secret they were gone the next day.
Now the short film Between Dreams competes in the International Competition of Tampere Film Festival.
Last year the winner of the international series was Canadian train-themed animation Madame Tutli-Putli. Olsson tells that her inspiration for Between Dreams came actually from that animation.
– I think that Tutli-Putli's train is obviously the Trans-Siberian train!
Updated 04 March 2009 11:58