On the Tenderness of Men
Finland/UK, essay film in development R/T: 60 min (photo: courtesy of Museum of Finnish Architecture; photographer unknown)
On the Tenderness of Men explores, as the title suggests, the tenderness of men through a poetic meditation on the iconic modernist architecture of Temppeliaukion kirkko in Helsinki. The architects of the church, Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, their childhood during the Winter War of 1939, and their subsequent evacuation from Suursaari Island are the starting points from which to explore parallels to contemporary themes of war, violence and displacement, alongside tender feelings of home, safety and refuge.
Combining a Finnish voice-over narrative and archive material, the film documents the building inside and out empty of human presence. A fictional émigré in present-day Finland vocalizes the sensuous capacity of material that the physical and acoustic space of the church express to her. She weaves into her narration the fragmentary oral histories collected from workers who built the church with their hands and physical labour. The film thereby unravels the complex relationship between feelings of comfort and security emanating from the material composition of the space. This is contrasted with the historical violence of displacement that the building’s design hoped to remedy.