Donner – Privat

Directed by John Webster

Genre Documentary

Production Country Finland

Length 79min

Script and planning of the interview Pirjo Honkasalo

Director of Photography Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen F.S.C.

Sound Design Karri Niinivaara

Editing Tuuli Kuittinen F.C.E.

Composer Pedro Hietanen

Set Design Otso Linnalaakso

Producers Misha Jaari, Mark Lwoff / Bufo, Ari Tolppanen

Jörn Donner’s final interview was shot in his study in Helsinki in late 2019. Pirjo Honkasalo drew up the interview plan inspired by the questions Donner once asked Ingmar Bergman in the documentary film of his own.

Donner – Private presents a person at the terminal stage in his life, in circumstances where one can no longer evade death – or the life lived. Donner died in February 2020.

Directed by John Webster and edited by Tuuli Kuittinen, this swingingly beautiful documentary is a delicate and outspoken epilogue to an intense life story. Donner speaks unsparingly about himself and his works, but his view on the surrounding world has always been inquiring and immediate. Photographs taken by Donner since the 1950s, closely kept out of the public eye until now, illustrate the story. The great cities of Europe and film festivals are seen in these images taken by a self-assured youth; Donner later photographed his families and the women he loved. Alongside self-reflections on fatherhood, the film gives voice to his companions and children who, between them, have rather different experiences of Donner as a parent.

Jörn Donner was an award-winning and scorned filmmaker, cultural influencer and parliamentarian, a showman who loved scandals, and an author toiling in silence. Throughout his life, this controversial man of constant motion who considered himself an outsider was fleeing from something, perhaps from himself. At the time of shooting Donner – Private, a touch of the fervent need for creation defining his life still remains. “I cultivate it like a small flower,” Donner says. “When I think or write I know that I am still alive.”