Mariangela Pluchino, the director of 2020 R&A Shorts trailer, toured the quiet streets of Helsinki in the spring. In the trailer, a lone protagonist wanders in a deserted environment and stumbles upon various frozen objects.

It was found in eastern Helsinki, behind the Myllypuro ice rink. An artificial and slightly creepy place, like a failed attempt to build an urban environment, describes R&A Shorts trailer director Mariangela Pluchino

Pluchino, art director Helena Aleksandrova, and line producer Roxana Sadvokassova had gotten a studio in eastern Helsinki at the beginning of the year, and with set designer Frida Stenbäck they toured the streets silenced by corona restrictions. When they bumped into the ice rink, they did not look for a location for the trailer but found it anyway.

– Somehow I liked the place. In summer, you can see a pile of snow there in the heat as they are moving ice out of the rink. It’s not a beautiful landscape like those that Finland is full of, but I did not want a beautiful location for the trailer, Pluchino says.

Bygone future

At the beginning of the trailer, a person steps on the shore of a grassy pond and stops next to a pile of pink plastic bags. Pink and purple smoke is bubbling up of the metal pipes sticking out of the ground. It’s dark, but there is light shimmering from behind the character. 

In the shooting for the trailer. Photo: Pavel Arkharov

The lone protagonist wanders in an uninhabited space, where, however, one can see human traces – therefore, it is a kind of a non-place. The term, developed by anthropologist Marc Auge, refers to various states of transit or temporariness in which a person remains anonymous.

It is difficult for the viewer to say during what kind of era the events are taking place in. Perhaps the present, which is mirrored from the past? The image is supported by the protagonist’s retro punk-style clothing.

– When in the early stages of the pandemic, I realized that the situation could last for a good while, I was as confused as surely everyone was. I read Donna Haraway’s book Staying With the Trouble and tried to find answers. Haraway argues that instead of focusing on the promise of a good future, we should accept the circumstances given. Haraway’s thoughts influenced our protagonist, who became a kind of a non-binary millennial and retro cyberpunk, Pluchino says.

The main character was created in close collaboration with costume designer Autuas Ukkonen.

– The character does not speak, and the person is constructed through outfit, movement and atmosphere. I like Autuas’s job of building an entire narrative with costumes, Pluchino says.

Room for creativity and breakfast breaks

This year’s Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy has special importance for Pluchino, as in addition to making a short film trailer, her short film will premiere at the festival. Trained as a psychologist, Pluchino first ended up with documentary film during her master’s studies. Today, she is interested in combining performative elements with fiction.

– I really enjoyed working on the trailer. We got room for creativity, and many wanted to join the team since it was about Love & Anarchy, Pluchino says.

Most of the trailer’s production team came from the Academy of Moving People & Image, from which HIFF commissioned the trailer. The production team grew as the corona restrictions were relaxed, and that was a good thing: there was a need for additional hands with heavy lights, for example. Thanks to good planning, the filming took place over two nights and half a day. Reaching the night mood in midsummer was challenging, but it was a success, Pluchino notes.

Photo: Pavel Arkharov

– Shootings started in the evening and continued until five or six in the morning. Instead of a lunch break, we had a breakfast break. I really enjoyed filming, and I think the whole team was feeling good.

Instead of location, script and music were used to make the video beautiful. Although it feels like time has stopped and the world has been quieted down in the trailer and an everyday life restricted by corona, something is still alive and moving. ■

Text: Kiira Koskela
Translation: Paula Minkkinen