Media artist Hanna Haaslahti: “There are seldom films in which everyone is a main character”

Media artist Hanna Haaslahti: “There are seldom films in which everyone is a main character”

Media artist Hanna Haaslahti’s immersive film Captured has its debut at the BFI London Film Festival. The film is featured in the Expanded programme, installed in the old vaults beneath Waterloo station. Haaslahti answers questions about the challenging creative process and the story in the film. 


What is the film about?

Captured describes a situation in which the power of the masses takes charge of the individual. The story builds around two turning points, one of which brings the community together, while the other leads to a bullying scene. 


Who are the captured people in the film?

The viewers are captured as part of the film, so the viewers also become the actors. We use machine vision and artificial intelligence to attach the viewers’ faces onto the characters. 


How does the film end?

Captured is a cyclic story that continues, so it doesn’t have an ending per se. The story is self-organising and the characters change, but certain plot points lead the story along.


What has the creative process been like?

It’s been an interesting, rewarding, and challenging adventure! There were many points during the process where we would think ‘what are we doing? Should we stop?’. It was in 2018, when producer Leena Närekangas suggested that we try a final time and apply to the Copenhagen documentary festival’s development programme CPH:LAB. We got in and their curator, Mark Atkin, got the gist of the film immediately. From there we got to international funding forums, which finally led to the production of the film.


How does it feel that Captured is part of the BFI London Film Festival?

When Captured was chosen it was the best possible start. It’s wonderful to have an in-person exhibition again for the first time in such a long time. They have an excellent ensemble at the film festival, it’s great to get Captured there. 


Where did you get the idea for an immersive film such as this one?

As humans, we’re used to seeing our own faces in different social media applications, but could a one’s own face be used in telling a serious story? There are maybe enough films that tell us about the individuals’ choices through the main character, but there are seldom films in which everyone is a main character and experiences the story told by themself.


Hanna Haaslahti’s immersive film at LFF Expanded, 26 Leake Street SE1, London, 16 – 17.10.2021. More information and tickets here.


Text: Matilda Lindblom

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