FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEADA familys youngest child dies in an accident. This film begins on the day after the tragedy and follows the family through their first year of grief. The bereaved family are from an average Finnish background; they try to look towards the future in spite of their pain. But the mother feels the loss of her child so intensely that the father soon finds himself left to organise the familys daily routine, and the son begins to wonder if he hasnt lost his parents as well as his little brother. The unsympathetic attitude of friends and neighbours doesnt make the familys situation any easier. Grief and the inability to grieve, the difference between men, women and children in their approach to grieving, and the predominant need among ones wider circle of friends and acquaintances to forget and carry on as if nothing had happened, are the themes of this film. This film is based on the experiences of a real family living on Finlands western coastline in 1986.
Kari Paljakka: I found out about the Karf family when I saw them being interviewed on television. I was struck by Gösta and Marita Karfs astonishingly candid and coherent description of the various phases of their grief during the year immediately following the death of their youngest son. I wrote to them and went to see them in their home town of Pietarsaari in order to get their opinion on the various versions of my screenplay. This was four years ago. It is my hope as a director that our film will help people to accept life in all its diversity, including its joy and its sorrow.