Steam of Life (2010)

Genres - Culture & Society  |   Sub-Genres - Sociology  |   Run Time - 84 min.  |   Countries - Finland  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Mark Deming

In Finland, the sauna isn't a luxury as it is in North America, but an everyday custom enjoyed by people of all walks of life. As filmmakers Mika Hotakainen and Joonas Berghäll explore both the practicalities and the ritual of the Finnish sauna in their documentary Miesten Vuoro (aka Steam of Life), they reveal that for many people, the sauna opens hearts and minds as well as pores. The directors visit a number of men from all parts of Finland, who show off their saunas -- which range from well-appointed steam rooms to converted trailers and phone booths -- and then take a steam, which inspires them to talk about their lives. Both physically and emotionally naked, the sweaty men talk in detail about their experiences, their ambitions, their failings, their darkest secrets and biggest fears, often with a few drinks handy to keep the conversation flowing. The result is a film that offers a look into a unique side of Finnish culture as well as an insight into the male psyche that's universal. Steam Of Life was an official selection at the 2010 Silverdocs Documentary Film Festival.

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Keywords

bonding [relationship], conversation, Finland, healing, masculinity, ritual, sanctuary, steambath