Written and directed by Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker Selma Vilhunen and starring young actor Linnea Skog as 12 year old Varpu Miettinen, this 100min long feature debut, Little Wing is based partly on Vilhunen's own story of desiring a relationship with her father, who passed away from mental illness.
The film also stars Paul Vesala as Siru, Varpu's mother and Antti Luusuaniemi as Ilmari Hukkanen, Varpu's dad.
Having maturity thrust upon her, Varpu is a 12 year old who lives with her single mother. She's more the parent than her mother who needs taking care of more than she does. She loves her horses, but her riding buddies' teasings about how her parents never make an appearance, makes life a little hard for her. When the going gets tough, the girl just wants to know her father, and perhaps wonders if life just might be better with him around.
While in the company of friends from the other side of the tracks, Varpu learns to drive a car, and decides to set off and find her estranged father in a stolen car. This is a road trip that's going to unravel the truth. A truth that Varpu may not recognise immediately, for in spite of having to act the adult, she doesn't have an adult's understanding of the world.
This is a touching film, and the lead is sensitively played by Linnea Skog. She manages to imbue a sense of quiet maturity and independence to her character, while displaying the loneliness of a child living in a world where her needs are not being met. It's no surprise she won the Best Actress award; the film itself nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Script, and Best Cinematography at the Jussi Awards (Finland) 2017.
Paula Vesala who plays her mother working as a cleaning lady is a Finnish singer-songwriter and actor and some of her songs are part of the soundtrack. She plays the needy, childish, selfish mother well. Every time she falls apart or fails Varpu, she is forgiven and your heart just breaks for the generous young soul in Varpu.
In realist low-key style, this film successfully delves into the feelings hiding behind Varpu's innocent eyes. It also deals sensitively with real life issues like bullying, poverty, mental illness and a dysfunctional life, without the overkill. You'll find this and many other wonderful films at the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival hosted by Palace Cinemas, so be sure to head to the website, check out all the special events and amazing selection of films in your State, and start booking, so as not to be disappointed. Stay up to date regarding updates and information via their Facebook page.