A stolen kiss in a woodshed takes place between two young men from very different paths in this clip from the new feature film A Moment in the Reeds. A romance forms between a young Finnish academic, Leevi (Janne Puustinen), and a struggling Syrian refugee, Tareq (Boodi Kabbani). Both of the lead actors are gay, and their chemistry in the film is palpable. Secluded at Leevi's family's lake house, the two men act on their atttration despite the threat of Leevi's father returning. Watch their kiss below.
The Advocate spoke to Finnish director Mikko Makela about why he was compelled to tell this timely love story.
"When we set out to make the film in early 2016, there had been no feature-length queer films produced in Finland, and very few films about immigrants to the country," he said. "I wanted to make a film about two outsiders in Finnish society who had until then rarely, if ever, been seen in Finnish cinema, and place them center stage in a story about the search for freedom and acceptance. With the terrifying swell of xenophobia in response to the arrival of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into Finland in 2015, it felt incredibly urgent to present a multidimensional, humanizing portrait of someone who is too often in people’s minds reduced to a stereotype built up simply from news headlines, or worse, xenophobic political discourse.
"At its heart, this is a film about two migrants, two people who have fled their native countries -- one of course in far more privileged circumstances than the other -- for a freer, safer life elsewhere: a common trajectory for queer people migrating from hostile environments to safer spaces. They meet in Finland, a country which they both view very differently: a society generally thought of as relatively liberal, where the Syrian Tareq feels that he can finally live freely, but which the Finnish Leevi has rejected as conservative and stifling. It was the tension inherent in this unexpected and problematic crossing of paths that I was compelled to explore in A Moment in the Reeds.
"I wanted to portray the beauty and meaningfulness of an encounter between people coming from seemingly very different circumstances, yet who find common ground in shared emotions, hopes, dreams -- a shared humanity. I was trying to present a more expansive and inclusive vision of Finnish society against increasingly conservative ideas of national identity as defined through ethnicity or of masculinity as defined through heterosexuality. Whilst the film is set in Finland, its relevance to so many other western societies, not least the U.S., that currently find themselves grappling with nativist and xenophobic political movements trying to halt immigration and deny asylum to those most in need, has become woefully clear since shooting it."