Private Project

Activist

Activist is a modern Jeanne d'Arc story in which a determined teenager from Finnish Lapland commences a battle against one of the world's biggest mining companies. She fights for the future of her home village and for an outstanding mire protected by European Union's nature programme.

Riikka Karppinen was a 15-year-old schoolgirl when Anglo American, an international mining giant, found nickel and copper deposits under her home village in northern Finland, 120 kilometres north of the Polar Circle. The discovery was described as the most significant of the century. But the ore lies underneath Riikka’s childhood paradise, a marshland reserve that is being protected because of its exceptional biodiversity.

The film is a touching and encouraging portrait about a young miner’s daughter on the cusp of adulthood and her strong will to make a difference.

As an activist Riikka doesn’t chain herself onto drilling machines. She chooses to influence through politics. Politics isn’t appealing to youngsters, but Riikka doesn’t want to let the older generations to make decisions for the younger ones. Trying to change things is often tiring but also rewarding, opening doors to opportunities that are rarely accessible to young ones.

Which one is more valuable, natural values or ore deposits that can be turned into banknotes? Is everything for sale when the bid is high enough?

  • Petteri Saario
    Director
  • Petteri Saario
    Writer
  • DocArt/ Petteri Saario
    Producer
  • Petteri Saario
    Director of Photography
  • Sari Orkomies
    Assistant Director
  • Perttu Hietanen
    Music
  • Joonatan Hietanen
    Sound design
  • Antti Saario
    Aerial Cinematography
  • Tiina Saario
    Production manager
  • Kari Kemppainen
    Additional Cinematography
  • Tiina Törmänen
    Additional Cinematography
  • Petteri Saario
    Editing
  • Finnish Film Foundation
    Production support
  • AVEK (Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture)
    Production support
  • Yle/ Iikka Vehkalahti, Erkko Lyytinen
    In Co-operation with
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    56 minutes 43 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 14, 2017
  • Country of Origin:
    Finland
  • Country of Filming:
    Finland
  • Language:
    Finnish
  • Shooting Format:
    HD Cine Alta
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Midnight Sun Film Festival
    Sodankylä
    Finland
    June 14, 2017
    Finnish premiere
  • One World International Human Rights Film Festival
    Prague
    Czech Republic
    March 6, 2018
    European Premiere
  • Tampere Film Festival
    Tampere
    Finland
    March 9, 2018
    Finalist in Finnish Competition
  • CinemAmbiente
    Turin
    Italy
    June 3, 2018
    Italian Premiere
    Best One Hour Film
  • MICGenero International Film Festival
    Guerrero
    Mexico
    September 6, 2018
    Official Selection
  • Matsalu International Nature Film Festival
    Lihula
    Estonia
    September 22, 2018
    Highly Commended Diploma & Special Prize for the Best Environmental Film
  • Bergen International Film Festival
    Bergen
    Norway
    September 27, 2018
    Norwegian Premiere
  • Patagonia Eco Film Festival
    Puerto Madryn
    Argentina
    October 4, 2018
    Official Selection
  • Innsbruck Nature Film Festival
    Innsbruck
    Austria
    October 10, 2018
    Finalist (shortlist)
  • International Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival
    Kuala Lumpur
    Indonesia
    October 22, 2018
  • MaPlanete International Film Festival
    Metz
    France
    November 17, 2018
    French premiere
    Prix de la Jeunesse
  • Cinema Verde International Environmental Film Festival
    Gainesville, Florida
    United States
    February 17, 2019
    Best Solution Award
  • Festival de Cine MÁS
    Managua
    Nicaragua
    March 25, 2019
  • Festival Film du Vert
    Castione
    Switzerland
    March 31, 2019
  • EcoZine Film Festival
    Zaragoza
    Spain
    May 14, 2019
  • IFF Ekotopfilm
    Bratislava
    Slovakia
    May 27, 2019
    Prize of the Sloval Environment Agency for Inspiring Message
  • EcoCup Green Documentary Film Festival
    Moscow
    Russian Federation
    May 31, 2019
    Russian Premiere
    Official Selection
  • EcoFest International Festival of Ecology Films
    Siaia
    Romania
    May 29, 2019
    Special Award of the Jury
  • Planet in Focus Fest Field Trip
    Toronto
    Canada
    October 23, 2019
    Canadan Premiere
  • Let's CEE Film Festival
    Vienna
    Austria
    May 9, 2020
  • Festival International de Cine Ojo de Pescado
    Valparaiso
    Chile
    August 26, 2020
  • Northern Character: Green Screen International Film Festival
    Nikel
    Russian Federation
    September 25, 2020
    Best Documentary Award
Distribution Information
  • Yle Sales
    Distributor
    Country: Finland
    Rights: Video on Demand, Free TV, Paid TV
Director Biography - Petteri Saario

Petteri Saario (b. 1961) is a Finnish documentary maker, who has specialized to depict the endangered relationship between man and nature. Besides directing and producing he is also familiar with underwater and wildlife filming. Many of his films have been awarded both in Finland and abroad.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Activist is a documentary about the years of growth of a young girl and her confidence in making a difference even though there is a huge mining giant opposing.

I hope Riikka’s example will encourage young people in Finland and elsewhere too. Our country is proud for its working democracy, yet less than one third of the youth use their right to vote in communal elections. Riikka not only voted but also stood as a candidate. In the first communal elections 2012 she surprised everybody by receiving historical amount of votes and in 2017 she was re-elected to town council with a landslide victory. Even though trying to influence politically is sometimes frustrating and tiring, it can also be rewarding.

The stories of Riikka and her family and one of the impending transition in Sodankylä, a town known for Midnight Sun Film Festival, are exceptional. Their significance is underscored by the fact that there is an unprecedented redistribution of natural resources underway in Finland. Anglo American is not the only international company that is planning a mine in Finnish Lapland. This entails that large areas in Lapland have been divided into regional testing grounds for international mining companies. Finland has become the world's mining industry's Klondike of the 21st century in which it is easy for major companies to operate. Civil resistance is very tame, the infrastructure is excellent and the country in itself is safe.

It is important to give a human face on the mining boom and the concern it has created among the locals. Sodankylä case is special - a small village growing into a world-class mining centre. The story of the Karppinen family is also exceptional: a mining man and the most prominent anti-mining activist in the same family. They both sit in the same municipal council that has perhaps the most important council term ahead.