Transnational Approach to Finnish Film Culture


Pietari Kääpä & Jaakko Seppälä

The concept of the transnational has emerged as a central paradigm in film studies. Responding to the perceived limitations of the framework of national cinema, scholars have shifted focus to exploring border crossings and hybrid forms of cultural and identity politics. Underlying this shift is the multidirectional imperatives of globalization that impacts on the industrial and cultural aspects of cinema.

Transnational remains a marginal concept, especially in the Finnish language film studies. This article aims to consolidate transnational approach as a central concern in Finnish film studies and lay out some of its key directives and avenues of interrogation. In establishing these parameters, we offer an extensive historical scope to Finnish film culture, extending from the silent era to the present. Case studies include Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre (2011) and Timo Vuorensola’s Iron Sky (2012).

Our article clarifies the meanings of the concept of the transnational for film scholarship. For us, the transnational indicates an approach to studying film culture. The term has conventionally been used as a way to discuss international exchange and circulation. Or alternatively, it has been associated with phenomena that somehow supersede nationhood. As part of conceptualizing the transnational as an analytical approach, we acknowledge the persistence of nations as well as the challenges international circulation of culture raises for any attempt to chronicle national culture. While the term is mobilized in a variety of ways in cultural studies, we understand it as an umbrella-like conceptual framework that enables us to interpret the discursive uses of the diverse ‘-nationals’ in international cultural production. Understood as an approach to overcome the slippery definitions of other concepts, the transnational in film studies is a way to account for the role (and uses) of cultural products as part of a wider network of cultural production and shifting connectivity.