It is the first time the country has selected a documentary as its foreign Oscar contender

The Finnish Oscar committee has for the first time selected a documentary - Finnish directors Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen’s Steam of Life (Miesten vuoro) – as its bid for an Oscar nomination as Best Foreign-Language Feature.

”The film is unique and brave, displaying a wide range of emotions – tragedy, comedy and even surrealism mix in  a true Finnish setting – the sauna – in a way that will touch viewers, regardless of their cultural background,” explained committee its decision.

Berghäll, Hotakainen, cinematographers Heikki Färm and Jani Kumpulainen undressed to join fellow countrymen in 75-85C saunas all over Finland ”to explore the perception of Finns as uncommunicative and unemotional persons. They filmed the other men’s conversations about love, death, fatherhood, friendship, or, in conclusion, about life.

Steam of Life received both the Risto Jarva Award and the Audience Awards at Tampere, and has since toured the international festival circuit winning prizes Nyon’s Visions du Reel, Tel Aviv’s DocAviv, and Warsaw’s Planeta Doc Review.

This autumn the film, which was produced by Berghäll for Oktober Oy, will be screened at another 20 international showcases. It is also among the five nominées for the Nordic Council Film Prize, Scandinavia’s largest film award.