In pursuit of emotions: the emotive turn and post-political sentiment in Finnish documentary film culture

Susanna Helke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This article discusses the emergence of an emotive turn in the Finnish documentary film culture of the last two decades. The transformation of address in contemporary documentary film culture lies not just in a postmodernist paradigm shift from the collective voice to the personal one but in the ways personal and subjective strategies are tied to reflections on the emotive and psychological realm of life and how this coincides with the rise of the culture of self-construction. Instead of conventionally historical, societal or political observations, more and more films – in terms of their perspective, approach and topic – have dealt with the area of emotions, family relations, questions of identity and individual growing pains. Also, in films which critically address political subject matters such as consumerism or global warming, especially films in which the filmmaker conducts a self-experiment, the ideal of individualism is conveyed by the narrative strategy. These films can be called political selfies: they position the self they construct at the epicenter of the ecological and sociopolitical catastrophes of the globalized world. Inspired by, for example, Chantal Mouffe's and Jacques Rancière's writings, this article scrutinizes the positioning of the political subjectivity these films suggest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-197
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Documentary
  • emotive
  • Finland
  • post-political
  • social documentary


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