(Den bästa av mödrar/Mother of Mine)

ROLE:  Hjalmar Jönsson

GENRE: WW II family drama

COUNTRY: Finland/Sweden

FINLAND RELEASE: September 30, 2005


During the Second World War, more than 70,000 Finnish children were evacuated to Sweden. This is a fictional story of one of them. An old and tired Eero looks back on his life and tries to be reconciled with his destiny, how he, as a nine-year-old, was sent to a Swedish farm family.  When Eero's father dies at the front, his mother could not care for him anymore. He gets a patch with number, name and new address around his neck and is sent over the Baltic Sea to Sweden to live with a foster family. He inherits Signe and Hjalmar Jönsson and a grandfather.

At first, Eero feels lost, particularly because Signe is so unfriendly and unwelcoming. She was expecting a little girl and still mourns their daughter who drowned in the sea. Fortunately, Hjalmar shows some compassion for the child. Slowly mother and child bond and when Eero's mother writes to say she is going to Germany with her lover and would like Eero to remain with his foster family, he then becomes Signe's son. Now she cares lovingly for him. However, at the end of the war, the boy must return to Finland against his will where his mother waits for him.

Film Details

 Topi Majaniemi - Eero Lahti
Maria Lundqvist - Signe Jönsson - Eero's mother in Sweden
Michael Nyqvist - Hjalmar Jönsson, Eero's father in Sweden
Marjaana Maijala - Kirsi Lahti, mother of Eero
Aino-Maija Tikkanen - Kirsi Lahti (present day)
Esko Salminen - Eero Lahti (present day)
Brasse Brännström - Grandfather

* * * * *

Director - Klaus Härö
Screenplay - Jimmy Karlsson and  and Kirsi Vikman
Based on the novel by Heikki Hietamie
Cinematography - Jarkko T. Laine
Music - Tuomas Kantelinen

111 minutes

View trailer

Production Notes:

Filmed in the cities of Helsinki and Turku in Finland and in Ystad, Skåne län, Sweden. Budget estimated at 2.9 million euros.

The fate of the Finnish war children is close to Michael's heart. His mother was one of those who received the children on the quayside when they arrived in Sweden in the 40's, and his grandfather volunteered and fought against the Russians in Finland.

Michael on his role:
"I play a man who is empathetic, but unable to acknowledge what is difficult. Hjalmar chooses the easy way. He makes himself popular rather than tackling the problems. I don't like that and would never behave like that in reality. That was difficult for me."

"I want people to open their eyes to how we treat children. We must realize, first of all, that children are human beings, no matter which country they come from or what language they speak. Children understand much of what is happening around them, and something you understand differently when growing up. I think everyone, from South Africa to Finland, can understand the subject in the film. It is largely about not being respected for who we are. Those people who don't like puppies and babies or a movie like this are not properly put together."

From the director:
"As the title indicates, the film centers on a young Finnish boy’s relationship to his two mothers. One brought him into the world and the other taught him to live in it. The question is: which one of them should be seen as Eero’s real mother? Both mothers loved the same child and made some tough choices, with fateful consequences reaching far into his adult life. The story focuses on the principal character’s lifelong battle with his suppressed feelings - in order to dispel his parents mistakes from his mind, Eero has to face them, and come to terms with himself and his two mothers."

"The objective was to make an emotionally strong and visually appealing film on the fate of one individual war child. The contrast between the warring world and the experiences of a little boy is a compelling starting point for telling a touching story. The film, which is targeted to grown-up audiences, gives the viewers a chance to identify with feelings and thoughts through which they can see their own lives in the light of the prospect of conciliation and peace."

Awards & Nominations

Six nominations from Finland's Jussis Awards and three wins - Best Actress, Best Cinematography & Best Set Design. Michael did receive a nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Two nominations from Sweden's Guldbagge Awards - Best Actress in a leading role for Maria Lundqvist and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Michael Nyqvist. Ms. Lundqvist won.

Won Golden Pyramid for Best Film at the Cairo International Film Festival

Won Satellite Award for Best Foreign Language Film by the International Press Academy

Won Audience Prize and Baltic Film Prize - Lübeck Nordic Film Days

Won Jury Grand Prix in Free to Fly Series - Giffoni Film Festival

Won Audience Award - Palm Springs International Film Festival

Won Crystal Heart - – Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis

Film Festival Screenings
Cairo International Film Festival
Helsinki International Film Festival
Tromsø International Film Festival
Lübeck Nordic Film Days
Fajr International Film Festival
Palm Springs International Film Festival
São Paulo International Film Festival
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival
Rio de Janeiro Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Dublin International Film Festival
Viareggio Film Festival
Copenhagen Film Festival
Milwaukee International Film Festival
Cameraimage Film Festival (Poland)
Publicity Stills
Premiere: Astoria Cinema in Stockholm - October 31, 2005
Film Comments

"As the tragic Eero, the young Majaniemi offers a tremendous performance full of courage and strength and vulnerability... Nyqvist, an established dramatic actor in such films as 'As It Is In Heaven,' is marvelous here, as well. He is a tender father, a loving husband, a strong man and, at times, a seemingly wounded child, all in one. The most powerful performance of all, however, comes from Maria Lundqvist as Signe... Lundqvist's performance is insightful, intelligent and devastatingly intimate. The script, by Jimmy Karlsson and Kirsi Vikman based upon a book by Heikki Hietamies, is warm without being overly sympathetic. The dialogue is simple and sparse, allowing for Haro's magnificent gift of visual imagery to shine through. Jarkko T. Laine's widescreen lensing wonderfully captures both the wide landscape of Sweden and the often dark, narrow settings of the farm."    ...Richard Propes, The Independent Critic

"With tears in their eyes, the invited celebrities left Cinema Astoria in Stockholm yesterday. It was difficult not to be touched during the Swedish gala premier of this moving film. Both Michael Nyqvist and Maria Lundqvist are sovereign in the role of the parents who take care of the Finnish boy Eero who flees the winter war."  ...Aftonbladet

"Majaniemi is a find as the young Eero, often letting just his eyes and face do the talking. As Hjalmar, Nyqvist (last seen in 'As It Is in Heaven') is fine, as always. However, both are almost acted off the screen by Lundqvist, in the pivotal role of Signe. Mostly known for TV comedy, she proves herself here as a dramatic actress to be reckoned with."    ...Gunnar Rehlin, Variety

"Keep your handkerchief in standby, because this is a sad story that concerns and engages like few others. And it is Finland's Oscars contribution."  ...Jan-Olov Andersson, Aftonbladet

"With tears in their eyes, the invited celebrities left Cinema Astoria in Stockholm yesterday. It was difficult not to be touched during the Swedish gala premier of this moving film. Both Michael Nyqvist and Maria Lundqvist are sovereign in the role of the parents who take care of the Finnish boy Eero who flees the winter war."  ...Aftonbladet

"The first thing that strikes me is that it resembles 'old' movies, where image composition is something more than what happens when you put the camera in a room. This has been thought through. That shadow, that angle, that look. If dialogue is not needed, let the picture and music tell you. The director trusts what the audience both wants and can understand."   ...Elin Claeson, sverigesradio.se

"Lundqvist and newcomer Majaniemi both disappear in their characters. Together with Michael Nyqvist, who plays Lundqvist's practical farmer husband, the actors deliver three reigned in, yet emotionally raw performances that definitely strike a chord." ...Boyd van Hoeij, European-films.net

"The fine cast all give outstanding performances and make this touching story a strong emotional dramatization."   ...Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews

"Härö seems to have a nice sense of humor. Traces of the humor is seen in his second feature film, mainly by Eero's father, played very well by Michael Nyqvist... The film is a very powerful experience and the performances are excellent."   ...Peo Sandholm, bio.nu

"Although the use of superlative in evaluations of works of art and their authors is as constructive as the children's discourse in the sandbox, Klaus Härö has shown in two of his long films that he belongs to the best of Finnish filmmakers...  'Mother of Mine' is very beautiful audiovisually, and above all, is a stylish film that respects the large surface of the screen with angles, composition and color." ...Juha Rosenqvist, film-o-holic.com

"Michael Nyqvist interprets the role of a sensible substitute father sympathetically...  It is the best Finnish film since Aki Kaurismäki's masterpiece 'Man without a past'."   ...Kari Glödstaf, Filmgoer.fi

"Härö is a skilled director who knows how to make a classic movie... The rising Swedish star Michael Nyqvist makes a very nice track as 'the father of Sweden'."   ...Leffatykki.com

"The brightest canvas is Signe, who Maria Lundqvist plays touchingly. Michael Nyqvist melts heartily as Hjalmar."   ...Telvis.fi

"The contrast between Finland's frigid birch forests and the open expanse of the Swedish coast, captured in Jarkko T. Laine's striking camerawork, is a key element of the film's quiet power."  ...Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter