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Hannaleena Hauru • Director of Fucking with Nobody

“I am used to navigating different worlds”


- We talked to the filmmaker behind the Venice Biennale College title, now showing in its native Finland

Hannaleena Hauru • Director of Fucking with Nobody
(© Lasse Poser)

In her Venice 2020 Biennale College title Fucking with Nobody [+see also:
film review
interview: Hannaleena Hauru
film profile
, aspiring filmmaker Hanna (director Hannaleena Hauru) creates a fake Instagram romance after missing out on a gig, only to find herself elevated to “influencer” status. Her friend Lasse (the co-writer of the film, Lasse Poser) doesn't seem too thrilled about it, though, and soon enough, fiction starts patting reality on the shoulder. Hauru talked us through the film.

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Cineuropa: With Fucking with Nobody, you really got to experience two sides of our new reality: you showed the film during an almost normal festival, and now you have to deal with local cinemas operating at a much lower capacity.
Hannaleena Hauru:
Most of the cinemas in Helsinki are now closed, although I heard that some people rented a small cinema just to watch the film. We haven't set up a new date for the national premiere just yet [the film was supposed to bow in January], but because we had these Venice screenings, as well as preview screenings in Finland, I am not that anxious any more. I am not climbing the walls just yet!

How did your first viewers respond to the structure of the film? Before Venice, we talked about you not being particularly interested in classical narratives.
I was prepared to get this kind of feedback: “Yeah, it's really interesting, but sooo complicated.” But no – the audience has understood it. With the team, we talked about how we should portray this film, whether we should say right away that it might be a bit complex and try to guide the audience a little. It turns out they didn't really need it. It gives me hope to believe that audiences these days are ready for something other than your typical, Aristotelian narrative.

As shown in your shorts or your debut feature, Thick Lashes of Lauri Mäntyvaara, you have a specific sense of humour as a filmmaker. How did you want to apply it here?
It comes from my life philosophy: “Deal with sensitive, hurtful topics through humour.” I was brought up this way – I see it as a way to deal with pain. When we were writing together with Lasse, that was the key: humour was where we could meet as screenwriters. It's a tool for communication.

This pain you mention is visible in the film when it comes to personal, but also professional, struggles. Thinking about what you want in your professional life versus what you think is actually possible.
I really do recognise this jealousy, not just in the Finnish film industry, but in Europe in general as well. Which is also why I wanted to deal with it through humour – I do experience it sometimes when I see a colleague succeeding. During film studies, the point was not to show it. But the way I see it, these feelings should be confronted and discussed. With my filmmaker friends, we can talk about being jealous of someone's film being shown at this festival or about them getting that grant. Sometimes it's easier with the ones who are not from Finland – at least we are not competing for the same things! But we didn't want to make something that would only appeal to other filmmakers, so we also tried to think about the universal aspect of this desire to belong, for example.

Or to be appreciated, which is where social media comes in, right? Everyone tries to up their status, even if it takes a fake relationship to do it.
Many viewers have come to me after the screening to rant about their anxiety about social media. That's a good thing that this film is doing – it's trying to burst this bubble. It's an odd situation because there have been articles written about me in the Finnish media, and to promote the film, I have generally been posting more. So now, I noticed an upgrade in my status! There are all these nice, professional photos of me, showing me in this “wow, she is a filmmaker” light. I just made a film that deals with this topic, about how social media help you create an illusion about yourself, and weirdly enough, it's happening to me at the moment.

I couldn't help but notice that it's not exactly “sexy” these days to have a female character who admits that having a partner would be beneficial.
That's what we wanted to portray: this almost 1950s mentality. That's Hanna and Lasse's struggle, learning how to cope with 2020 and all these new values. They are like time travellers, living in these activist circles. I do have fantasies about being a 1950s wife, but of course, you can't say that out loud! I am an activist and an empowered woman, but it's still in there somewhere. I was visiting my hometown over Christmas, and I remembered living that divide: having all these activist friends, vegetarians in the 1990s, and going to school with the better-off kids. I guess I am just used to navigating different worlds.

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