Lönnström Project 6

Fata Morgana

Milja Viita | 2022-2023

Fata Morgana (working title) is an experimental film by media artist Milja Viita. For the film, Viita will collect visual materials from home archives related to the work and lives of seafarers from Rauma. She is particularly interested in 8mm films, film negatives, photographs and letters that were shot, written and received by seafarers on the seven seas. As we get closer to the present day, the collected materials can also be digital.

Viita will study and process the visual materials with a rare optical printer at the L’ Abominable film studio in Paris. The form of the final film will be determined by the found materials and interviews with their lenders.

The film will be produced with many collaborators. The score will be composed by instrumentalist, educator and researcher Juho Laitinen, and it will be performed by the Rauma Youth Band. Foley effects will be produced in Rauma at a workshop for young people run by a foley professional. The project will culminate in autumn 2023 at Rauma in a special documentary screening where the film is shown with a live band playing the score. The people who provided the materials will be invited on stage to tell their stories and talk about their memories, which will become part of the total experience. An installation version of the piece will be produced that can be screened indefinitely in the future.

The working title is a reference to a type of mirage that can be experienced especially at sea. “The idea for the piece first emerged when I was travelling on a cargo ship across the North Atlantic to Canada in 2018,” says Milja Viita.

“During the foggy week, I got to know the hard-working seamen who live on the ship for months at a time. Many of them talked about their longing and their families waiting back home thousands of kilometres away.”

Milja Viita (b. 1974) earned a Master’s degree from the Department of Time and Space Arts at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2005. Materiality and craftsmanship are central to her approach to filmmaking and treatment of footage. She won the prestigious Risto Jarva Award at the Tampere Film Festival in 2019 for her film Animal Bridge U-3033. Milja Viita lives and works in Porvoo.