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THE GIFT

Finland, 1961 (MIFF 1963)

Director: Jack Witikka

The setting is a courtyard of a small Finnish village some time in the 'twenties. Amongst the villagers who congregate in the square the story centres mainly on Peter, whose mother has recently died and who lives with his father Jormalainen, a quiet and somewhat helpless man.

One day Karoliina arrives in the village and starts housekeeping for Peter and his father. To Peter, who yearns for maternal love, it is conceivable that she has come because of the secret conversations he has been having with the Heavenly Father. She may he a guardian angel - who knows? Then suddenly she disappears as mysteriously as she came!

This short, and leisurely, film is perhaps slightly sentimental but it has a warm sincerity, and describes with keen intuition the outlook of a small boy. Tuukka Tanner gives a pleasantly restrained performance as the boy, whilst Elsa Turakainen adequately portrays the mystery woman who is more like a fairy godmother than a stepmother. Also known as Little Peter, the film was awarded the Finnish State Prize and the Diploma for Youth Films at Berlin Festival.

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