A few years ago I spent some time in the Saimaa region in Finland and I was delighted to discover that the very fist film made by the Kaurismaki brothers was a 1981 documentary about the local rock scene called Saimaa Ilmiö. I wasn’t surprised in the slightest, as the Saimaa region is so fascinating and distinctive. It’s gorgeous for oudoor activities, bring your hiking boots but you won’t need any clothes for the sauna and a dip in the lake. Driving around is also fun. It’s mostly water and you drive along narrow stripes of land, listening to metal radio stations, sometimes you see a solitary mökki (a wooden cottage for the holidays), or a rowboat, or you stop by at a coffee shack. Very often you encounter this road sign, which I believe is supposed to be a speed camera, but I prefer to consider it a “beware, the Kaurismaki brothers are watching you” sign.


Anyway, Saimaa Ilmiö is available only in Finnish, I language I regrettably ignore, but then again most of the time they simply perform, in small local venues, at festivals (notably Ilosaarirock), or at what looks like a pesäpallo court. It’s rock, with a touch of new wave, sweaty musicians, glorious ballads. In between gigs they go around with those charming old boats they have in Savonlinna and on those occasions they do sometimes have conversations, god knows about what, or they just make more music.

They also visit Savonlinna castle, I love Olavinlinna castle. It seems spending time around Savonlinna hasn’t changed much over the years. Except that the local ringed seal is going extinct of course.