Crew: Screenwriter: Hanna Kuirinlahti – Producer: Elina Pohjola – Cinematographer: Antti Polojärvi – Editor: Hanna Kuirinlahti – Sound Design: Pietu Korhonen – Composer: Markku Kanerva
A 10-year old Palestinian girl Farah arrives in Finland with her mother and two brothers in the winter of 2016. This is the first time in her life, when she sees snow. And she loves it. Farah begins to ski in the International Cross-Country skiing school along with other immigrant children. She goes to school, finds new friends and eventually her own place in the world. In the film we follow Farah’s journey towards independence, her adaptation into a society that offers freedom, which is something that the family is not used to. Freedom that fascinates Farah but troubles her mother. Cross Country is a positive and warm coming-of-age story of our present seen through the eyes of an immigrant child.
Director Einari Paakkanen (b. 1980) graduated as a Bachelor of Arts from the Turku University of Applied Sciences (Arts Academy), and did his Master’s degree in Documentary Directing in Barcelona. Paakkanen has made a long career as a location manager. My Father from Sirius is his first feature documentary.
In 2015 the discussion about immigrants and refugees was wild in Finland, as it was in many other countries. I wanted to approach the subject differently and make a positive story from the point of view of immigrant children. In the fall of the same year I came across The International Cross-Country Skiing School, that teaches cross-country skiing for immigrant children and was founded just recently. I found Farah, a Palestinian girl that had fallen in love with snow and was dreaming of learning to ski and finding Finnish friends. By following the life of Farah and her family, the film explores the challenges and choices that immigrant families face everywhere. What makes a person Finnish or any other nationality? How much of our old culture are we willing to discard, when we take part in a new one? This film is my statement in the debate about immigration. Farah gave me a chance to turn her story into a warm movie about gaining one’s independence, confluence of different cultures and skiing.