Power of the People
Original title: Kansanvalta
Length: 65 min
Writer/Director: Mervi Enqvist
Producer: Essi Haukkamaa
Cinematographer : Hannu Käki
Editor : Jaani Kivinen
Composer : Marko Nyberg
Sound Designer : Joonas Jyrälä
The Documentary follows Finnish Laura Eklund Nhaga’s journey as she tells her thoughts about living as a racialized person in Finland. It shows her travels to the USA to meet Heather Booth, from Midwest Academy, to learn about organising and how to bring those teachings into action.
Kansanvalta is a documentary film about personal impact, finding your own voice and learning how to effectively work for change.
Power of the People follows Laura Eklund Nhaga (23) on her journey as she tries to understand what is her way for making a change in society. Laura is half brown and half white. Her mother is Finnish and her father African. Laura has lived almost all her life in Finland. Although she is 100% Finnish she is often seen as an immigrant or a foreigner by the Finns. As she feels she has no future in Finland she goes to England, where she begins her studies in political history and sociology at the University of Warwick. While her mother feels that moving abroad will be good for Laura, there is also kind advice to be ready to return to Finland. Laura ignores the advice.
Laura is excited about her new environment and writes and recites her own poems at local poetry clubs. However after a few months the initial excitement is gone and has been replaced by a feeling of loneliness. At the same time the EU report Being Black in the EU is published. That is the turning point for Laura. The way the report was dealt with in Finnish media upsets Laura and the frustration grows. Laura is thinking about her own direction in life: How will she be able to make the change she wants?
Laura travels to Chicago, a city which is known as “headquarter of activism”. She meets younger and older activists to find about the different ways for social change. Hearing how some have succeeded and some have failed, Laura realizes that achieving her goals are more difficult to achieve than she thought.
Laura returns to England but finds that Brexit has made her stay in England complicated. Soon after Covid-19 forces her to return to Finland. Now Laura faces a new challenge to adjust and find a way to make her voice heard in the place she wanted to leave behind. With all the new information and knowledge she gathered on her travels, what kind of activist will she be?
In our earlier film War/Peace we began studying the activism, but that was more about radical and violent activism in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and how we as a society seem to be heading to the same direction once again. After the film came out some people from audience contacted me telling, that they felt helpless and powerless after seeing the film. One person said to me If our society is really that bad what can I do to change it? From there I began thinking that we need to make another film that gives people hope and the tools.
Four years ago, I met Heather Booth in Washington DC while she was working with the campaign for the national Democratic Party. Her own activism began in early 60’s with Freedom Summer, and later she created the Midwest Academy in Chicago, a school for activists. After meeting with her it came clear to me that she had the answers I were looking for. She could tell me and through our film to the audience what are the steps for an affective activism.
We wanted to aim this film for younger audience, and we ended up finding Laura. She was in a perfect age, just stepping out from her comfort zone with her powerful voice, looking for the ways to make her own life as racialized youth a bit easier for her and others. We began following her while she was searching how to get her own voice heard.
There is so much potential in youth and they’re very involved of the happenings in the world. All they need are the tools, and knowledge of the steps to take. I think this is very important because without the tools they might end up to that violent and radical path that we saw in the 60’s and 70’s.
Sometimes we think that activism is only marching and rallying but there are so many ways to be active. The real power is in people who work together, but it often starts from that one person sharing her story.