Steam of Life, the award-winning Finnish documentary of men in the sauna is set to air in the USA next week on the PBS show POV. The film, called Miesten vuoro in Finnish, is a series of beautifully shot interviews with Finnish men who bare themselves and their souls to the camera. It has won several awards for its beautiful cinematography and heartfelt storytelling.
The film is scheduled to air at 10pm on Tuesday August 2, but you should check your local listings. If your local PBS channel chooses not to show it, or you aren’t in an area where you can get PBS, the film will be available to watch on the POV website from August 3 through November 1, 2011.
Apress release on the POV website describes the film:
Among the interesting things we learn from Steam of Life is that portable saunas can appear anywhere in Finland — in trailers, tepees, cars, even phone booths — at a moment’s notice. We also learn that Finnish men of all shapes, sizes and ages are not the least bit self-conscious about being nude, either in front of each other or in front of the filmmakers’ cameras (or behind the cameras — the crew was naked, too). We also learn that Finnish men, despite their reputation for not being communicative, are almost unstoppable once they get talking in their quiet way about their lives. They speak from a deep emotional need to share their experiences, and from a special place, the sauna, where they shed social inhibitions and distinctions along with their clothes.
To film the scenes in the sauna, the crew used 16mm film cameras. They had to slowly acclimate the cameras to the sauna temperatures of up to 200F (93C) to ensure they worked properly.
POV has posted a trailer on YouTube (embedded above) where some of the nudity has been blurred out. As a longtime fan of POV, my guess is they will offer two versions of the film to the individual PBS stations: A censored one and an uncensored one. They will choose which version to air. The film’s runtime has also been cut from 86 to 60 minutes to fit into the hour-long TV slots in the USA.
POV, now in its 24th season on PBS, features the works of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers.