ActivistPetteri Saario, Sari Orkomies, 57 min, Finland.
In this modern Jeanne D’Arc story, a determined teenager in Finnish Lappland commences a battle against one of the world’s largest mining companies. The miner’s daughter fights for the future of her home village and for an outstanding mire protected by European Union’s nature programme.
At age of 15, Riikka Karppinen’s world collapses. An international mining company Anglo American announces that a vast nickel and copper deposits have been found under her home village in Northern Finland. The discovery is being described as the most significant of the century.
The ore lies underneath a marshland that is being protected by European Union’s Nature programme because of its exceptional natural values. Parts of the Viiankiaapa mire used to belong to Riikka’s family, but the family had to sell the land to the state of Finland for protection. Now the same land is being given to an international mining company by the state.
Riikka is not going to stand aside and watch how Viiankiaapa is transforming into a testing ground for an international mining company. Even though it seems to be a losing fight, she commences a battle against the mining giant. At first people in the community are amused by the young girl’s anti-mining activities. Soon trivialisation turns into encouragement. Riikka becomes the most prominent figure in the struggle against the onslaught of more mines in Lapland.
Riikka is not alone in her fight, even though the decision makers in Sodankylä have a positive attitude towards mines as it means tax income and jobs. Riikka’s strongest supporter is her father Juha who is a mining man himself. Even though he may not always agree on her daughter’s opinions, he is always there to support her. An another important person on Riikka’s journey is her grandmother Tekla who always has an advice to give, no matter of the topic.
The stories of Riikka and her family and one of the impending transition in Sodankylä – a town known for Midnight Sun Film Festival - are exceptional. Their significance is underscored by the fact that there is an unprecedented redistribution of natural resources underway in Finland. Anglo American is not the only international company that is planning a mine in Finnish Lapland. This entails that large areas in Lapland have been divided into regional testing grounds for international mining companies. The mining companies aim at establishing a mine in the most pristine places, it is not an obstacle for these enterprises if there is a National Park at stake.
Activist is a film about a small community in Finnish Lapland which is tempted to make short-sighted decisions in order to fill the gap in municipality’s budget. It’s a story about a miner’s daughter who surprises everyone by rising to stand against the plans of an international mining company. It is also a tale about outstanding marshland which holds a treasure beneath its pristine surface.
Which one is more valuable: natural values or ore deposits that can be turned into banknotes? Is everything for sale when the bid is high enough?
Above all Activist is a potrait of a young girl and her strong will to make a difference. It is a story of a young woman on the cusp of adulthood searching for herself and enjoying publicity. Trying to change things is often tiring but also rewarding, opening doors to opportunities that are rarely accessible to young ones. Activist is also a tale of an exceptional relationship between a father and a daughter.