A MOMENT in the Reeds is a beautifully romantic film by the young Finnish director Mikko Makela. The story centers on two young men: Leevi (played by Janne Puustinen), a Finnish student who returns home from his studies in Paris to help his father repair their summer cottage, and Tareq (Boodi Kabbani), a Syrian refugee, whom the father hires to help with the carpentry. When the father is called away on business, the young men, whom Makela describes as “both pretty isolated characters,” fall into a passionate but sadly curtailed love affair.
Director Makela, who is 29, grew up in a small town in southeastern Finland, where he attended Finnish state schools. Placed in an English-speaking track, he was taught by American and British teachers from the fifth grade on. As a boy in Finland, Mikko had no exposure to gay life. It was only on a family trip to Paris when he was fourteen that he saw two men kissing on a train, and it all started to make sense. He opted to go to the UK for college, where he pursued medieval and Renaissance studies but also joined a film society. While pursuing a master’s degree in London, he got his first taste of film directing, working on music videos and fashion videos. A Moment in the Reeds is his first full-length narrative film.
Makela was in Boston for the screening of his film at the Museum of Fine Arts. The next day, I interviewed him at the Lenox Hotel.