A quiet observation of the people among us who are only visible through cameras, their need to be seen and the loneliness that connects us all.
All around us, there lives a group of “invisibles”, people who are only perceivable via a camera. We meet two of them: Tuomas is a single parent to his daughter, who is the only person in the world seeing him normally; Ninni is a young woman in an emerging online relationship, meeting her crush for the first time “in real life”. In combination with these parallel stories, the film uses street footage and testimonies from other “invisibles” to reflect on questions of loneliness, visibility and perception. Our world is exposed as one where the prosaic and the poetic, the factual and the imaginary, live together.
Tuomas: Arttu Timlin
Ninni: Ida-Maria Olva
Oona: Kimiya Eskandari
Axel: Jonas Rothlaender
Anni: Somaye Pajuhi
In voice roles:
Director, writer, cinematographer: Jesse Jalonen
Editor: Sanna Liinamaa
Production designer: Jenni Nylander
Sound designer: Samuli Ala-Lahti
Costume designer: Mirva Mietala
Producer: Ella Ruohonen
Assistant director: Hannu-Pekka Peltomaa
Dramaturg: Ossi Hakala
VFX: Riku Leino
Co-producers: Juho Fossi, Antti Fossi
Co-produced by ELO Film School Finland, Aalto Studios and Fossi Films
Year of Production: 2022
Duration: 65 min
01/2022 International Film Festival Rotterdam
04/2022 Suomalaisen elokuvan festivaali, Turku, Finland
06/2022 Filmadrid, Spain (Winner of Días de Cine award)
Nobody Meets Your Eyes came into existence through several years of work, wandering and observing – both solitary and communal.
The first reference in my notebook to “a person living only in images” is from six years ago. Little happened to that note for a long time, but that was the seed of the fictional (or fantasy) side of the film.
During those years I started filming documentary street footage – a lot of the time working with my old Nokia C5 cell phone which I had kept for its interesting image quality. It travelled in my pocket to almost anywhere, and I shot anything interesting, with no idea of what I was going to do with the material. What was important to me, was that the camera exposed the world as something marvellous and enchanting. The act of shooting reinvigorated my relationship with the world. I became aware of things, places and people that had previously gone unnoticed by me.
One recurring sight that I encountered over and over again was a person who seemed lonely in the most public space, often surrounded by other people: a kid at the airport, people waiting for the bus, a runaway bride sobbing on the sidewalk… And I realised that these were the real “people living only in images”, now rendered visible, for the first time, by my camera. These were the ones I should write about. And so I did.
But of course one sees what one is inclined to see. And if I saw loneliness, that was because I knew something about it (like most of us do, I think). For me, a sense of loneliness grows out of our separateness, from the fact that I am not you and you are not me. And that is not the result of technology. The fact that we see each other more and more in/as images does not so much create our separateness as it exposes it. I see our current situation mainly as a symptom of or a metaphor for our fundamental loneliness, not as the cause of it. And this I wanted to make the film about.
Yet, the ultimate paradox is that this film about unconquerable loneliness was actually made in the truest spirit of community and collaboration – in an atmosphere of friendship. I asked people I knew, who had no acting background, to play the main roles – and courageously they accepted the invitation. Our whole crew was 4 to 5 people for the majority of the shoot, so there was no talking behind backs or endless people waiting around the set. There was only work, in the most “craft” sense of the word. I feel this is truly a hand-crafted film, and I hope that the love we put into our common craft will also show in the film as a sense of warmth and care – that the film would not only expose our loneliness but also offer consolation.
Jesse Jalonen lives and works in Helsinki, Finland. He holds an MA degree in film directing from ELO Film School Finland, Aalto University. Nobody Meets Your Eyes was part of his MA thesis. Previously he has written and directed two short films, Pauli (2014) and Falling Snow (2019), and served as the cinematographer on approximately 20 short films since 2011.
Kukaan ei katso sinua silmiin (Nobody Meets Your Eyes) 2022, 64 min
Lumenpudottaja (Falling Snow) 2019, 26 min
Pauli (Pauli) 2014, 22 min