Switzerland’s SRF and Japanese broadcaster NHK have acquired Rise and Shine’s crowdpleaser “Karaoke Paradise.”
Directed by Einari Paakkanen and produced by Marianne Mäkelä and Liisa Karpo for Napafilms, it premiered at CPH:DOX and was recently shortlisted for the Best Documentary Award at the European Film Awards.
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“It’s one of those rare films that casts a warmhearted look into the soul of its characters, maybe even into the soul of a nation. Finns don’t talk. They sing karaoke,” says Rise and Shine’s managing director Stefan Kloos, calling it “one of the masterpieces of that dry Finnish humor we all love.”
“It’s uplifting while tackling an important issue that we can all relate to: how to find happiness.”
Listening to songs and stories of those who find refuge on stage, including Finland’s most experienced karaoke hostess, Paakkanen continues to come close to his protagonists. Suffering from illnesses, debilitating shyness or reeling after the loss of a child.
“Where I grew up, opening up or talking about one’s emotions wasn’t really encouraged or taught, so it might be the reason why I’m curious about intimate stories,” he notes.
In his 2016 debut feature “My Father From Sirius” the Finnish helmer pointed the camera at his own family. Especially his father, who claimed he could communicate with aliens.
“There isn’t enough time to live all the lives I would have wanted to. Being a documentary filmmaker allows me to leap into other people’s lives to observe and wonder.”
Paakkanen is pleased with how “Karaoke Paradise” has been received outside of Finland, he says, with international audiences paying much more attention to the characters and their hardships than the actual songs.
“They seem to love these protagonists. I think we managed to portray them in an engaging and genuine way, and say something universal about who we are, how we survive and find a cure for our problems. Another thing people have been telling me after [seeing] the film was that it gives them a feeling of hope.”
Especially post-pandemic, as wannabe singers form a proper community in the film, gathering to experience a moment of joy together.
“One of the first things I did after the Covid restrictions were lifted was to go out and sing karaoke in a pub,” he adds.
“The songs can be sad or joyous, but karaoke is very much about sharing something together,” notes Paakkanen, adding that with this crowd, everyone can be a star for three minutes.
“Whether you are a good or bad singer, short or tall, thin or fat, young or old, it’s all meaningless once you get on that stage. People will applaud, just because you were brave enough to express yourself and show your vulnerability. That’s why I enjoy seeing ordinary people sing.”
“All those mistakes and faults, expressions and performances, they tell a story about us as humans. We are not perfect. For me, karaoke is a celebration of our imperfections.”
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