I knew I'd regret not finding the time to get back to the Finn Hall! At the end of June, I was on Bay St. with my sister, Katja, sitting in Calico's Coffee Shop where her artwork was the featured art on the walls. I said, let's pop upstairs into the old bar (what used to be called "The Finn Bin") and see what's going on with the fittings for Kelly Saxberg's upcoming film about the Finn Hall.
Upstairs, the place looked like the backstage area of a busy production! There were period-- early 20th c-- clothes, men's, women's and children's, in racks all along the walls, from evening dresses and suits to everyday blouses and skirts and work clothes. We chatted with the dresser who asked us if we wanted to be part of the audience in one of the scenes in the film. She showed us some dresses that would be suitable, we looked over the shooting schedule and promised her we'd be back next week then. Well, we didn't show up. I ran out of time. It was just too close to me leaving for Lebanon and having just wrapped up my Spring class, I did not find a minute.
But now having seen the promo trailer and finding 16 people I know--Raija, Pirjo, Leila, her husband, Markku, Saku, his brother, Pasi, Jorma, Margit's son, Danny the musician, Michel the professor, Martti Vanhapelto the dancer, Martti Ahonen the owner of the two dogs I walk on Sundays, even the minister of Hilldale Lutheran Church!, among others-- in various scenes, I said to myself, damn! Why didn't I find the time? This film will be very interesting as it is about the history of Finns in Port Arthur, as told through the history of the Big Hall and Finnish socialism. I can't wait to see the finished result.
"This is a first promo from "Big Finn Hall" from the first 9 day shoot that took place 21 June to 1st July 2010. The film stars Finnish actors Jussi Nikkila and Elena Leeve. Music for the promos generously provided by Ari Lahdekorpi from his CD "Letters From Karelia". DOP Harvey LaRocque. “The Big Finn Hall” written and directed by Kelly Saxberg and produced by Ron Harpelle of Franco Finn Films, is a feature length docu-drama, in Finnish and English, about the lively culture and politics at the heart of Canada’s most vibrant labour hall. In 1910, a group of Finnish immigrants built the Finnish Labour Temple in Thunder Bay, Ontario. In its early days it was inseparably linked to the radical politics of Canadian labour and the left. The Big Finn Hall was a place where Finnish immigrant culture and politics sparked many of the most tumultuous episodes in Canadian labour history. This film will integrate archival footage, photos and fictionalized scenes to bring to life the Hall’s dramatic past."
Kelly Saxberg at work on Bay St. on the film Big Finn Hall. (for more stills, visit the link to Shebandowan Films on Kelly's name)