Acclaimed Estonian director Veiko Õunpuu shot his feature film The Last Ones in Finnish Lapland for two months in 2017. The film is written by Heikki Huttu-Hiltunen, Eero Tammi and Õunpuu, and produced by Estonian Homeless Bob Production, Finnish Bufo and Dutch PRPL. The cast includes Estonian Pääru Oja and famous Finnish actors Tommi Korpela, Laura Birn, Elmer Bäck, Sulevi Peltola, Jarkko Lahti and Samuli Edelmann. The production wrapped filming in the end of September 2017, and the film premiered in the fall of 2020.
TRADITION VERSUS INDUSTRIALISM
The world of The Last Ones is set in a small mining village, filled with tensions between local reindeer herders and miners. As the film raises questions about the use and worth of the Arctic lands, the story also tackles romantic conflicts and northern melancholy with a touch of dark humor.
According to director Õunpuu, The Last Ones aims to depict an image of the current state of the world.
– People driven by greed [are] on top, and people [are] clinging to their dreams, trying desperately to stay afloat in a very unsure world, their jobs at stake. And the pristine wilderness around them [gives] way to human entrepreneurship; old traditions [are] dying out.
RUSTIC SECLUDEDNESS AND TIMELESS LANDSCAPES
Õunpuu shares that finding the perfect locations was essential for the film. As the story was written to take place in Finnish Lapland from the get-go, it was only natural for the production to head up north. And Lapland did not disappoint; it offered locations that matched the tone of the film perfectly. The features of the area made a great impression on Õunpuu.
– The primordial landscape and the sheer scope of [Lapland] blew my mind. I felt very much at home in the far North.
The location for the mining village was staged to the old Rautuvaara mine in the municipality of Kolari, which was a great fit for the story with its harshness and secluded surroundings. Filming also took place in the vast tundra-like lands of Kilpisjärvi, in the municipality of Enontekiö.
The Last Ones is a Finnish-Estonian-Dutch co-production. According to director Õunpuu, the Finnish-Estonian crew worked well together despite the differences in cultural backgrounds.
– Finns [are] more cautious and rule-oriented, and Estonians much more reckless and anarchic, but there was mutual respect.
Õunpuu felt a special connection with the locals in Lapland.
– The local people were very much like people in Saarenmaa, where I’m from and where I live most of my time. Maybe the sparseness of habitation has something to do with it, but the calm self-sufficiency of people and a similar sense of humor struck me as very familiar.
In the videos below, the crew and cast share their experiences from the first weeks of filming, their thoughts about Lapland as a location, and remarks about their characters, colleagues and relationship to Lapland.
The Last Ones is supported by the Estonian Film Institute, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Finnish Film Foundation, Netherlands Film Fund, Eurimages, Creative Europe, Yle, Creative Europe, Netherlands Film Production Incentive and Finnish Lapland Film Commission.