Finland’s Unknown Films

Which great foreign films never show up in the United States?

As a fan of those quirky movies by the great Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki, I wondered, “What else do they make in Finland?”

In a semi-scientific quest for highly rated Finnish films, I looked up movies from Finland at www.imdb.com, which helpfully lets you see a ranking of the top-rated films from each country … top-rated, that is, according to the people who have voted at the Internet Movie Database. Not a definitive ranking, I know, but at least it’s a start.

First of all, it’s interesting to see that 2,325 films listed on imdb are Finnish productions or co-productions… of which only a handful have even been shown in the U.S.

The top films by vote are:

Votes Avg. Title
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50 9.1 Kahdeksan surmanluotia (1972)
150 8.6 Komisario Palmun erehdys (1960)
146 8.5 Kaasua, komisario Palmu! (1961)
3901 8.3 Dogville (2003)
144 8.3 Chavez: Inside the Coup (2003) (TV)
106 8.1 Arvottomat (1982)
242 8.0 Calamari Union (1985)
11910 7.8

Dancer in the Dark (2000)

2794 7.6 Mies vailla menneisyyttä (2002)
Dogville and Dancer in the Dark should be disqualified because they’re actually films by the Danish director Lars von Trier. Chavez also does not appear to be a true Finnish film. Calamari Union and Mies vailla menneisyyttä (The Man Without a Past) are by Aki Kaurismaki, so it’s no surprise to see them on the list. Arvottomat is by Aki’s brother, Mika.
But what about the other seven movies on the list? They’re total mysteries to an American filmgoer. The top two films have viewer rankings comparable to that of imdb’s No. 1-ranked film, The Godfather. Of course, the number of people who have voted for these films is considerably smaller. Presumably, almost all of the voters were Finns.
So how about it? Let’s see Katsastus and Kahdeksan surmanluotia on a U.S. screen!
By the way, according to imdb, only three movies have been made in the history of Andorra.