Finland, The Netherlands


In a twist on boy-meets-girl, the gritty and dreamy drama THEY HAVE ESCAPED is set at a juvenile detention center, where the boy, a stuttering introvert, has come to serve his mandatory civil service, and the girl, an attractive extrovert, is in custody. With boundless energy, she’s the kind of girl that trouble always finds. He’s quiet and reserved, but his attraction to her indomitable spirit makes them realize that they share a fire and a disregard for rules, laws and convention. Their environment can’t restrain them, so they steal a car and go on the run – beginning a journey of drugs, sex and endless escapes.

Director's Statement

Raisa and Joni are outsiders. Outcasts and misfits, they disturb the peace and have no understanding of boundaries. They have responsibilities but no rights; they’re dreamers whose futures have been foretold.

The style of the film is expressionism, with a narrative style that changes according to the experiences of Raisa and Joni. They are children, and as they embark on the road to adulthood the film undergoes a change in style from a naivistic portrayal of young people to a dream-like, poetic narrative. The film is both an askew coming-of-age story and a fairy tale-like reflection of today’s Finland. Dreams, memories, hallucinations and reality move side by side, collide and finally melt into one another in the narrative.

Casting was a challenge. Since the main characters were 17 and 19, the actors would most likely be amateurs. We held an open casting call asking people to submit written applications with photos. We received over 400 applications, and chose 100 young people for auditions. Roosa Söderholm, who plays Raisa, had acted in a youth theatre group. Teppo, who plays Joni, is a plumber; he had acted once before in THE PAINTING SELLERS, a wonderful Cannes Cinefondation prize- winning film by Juho Kuosmanen. It was obvious that Roosa and Teppo had innate talent for acting, but it was the fearlessness with which they threw themselves into their roles that was the key.

I wanted to make a film that would be as rough, capricious, surprising and determined as its main characters, who are people who haven’t been ground in the mill of life yet. Instead, they still reach for the light. THEY HAVE ESCAPED is not a realistic film; it’s an optimistic one.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää

Written by: Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää, Pilvi Peltola

Produced by: Aleksi Bardy

Cinematography: Pietari Peltola

Editing: Mervi Junkkonen

Production Design: Markku Pätilä

Costume Design: Tiina Wilén

Original Score: Helge Slikker

Sound Design: Micke Nyström

Cast: Roosa Söderholm (Raisa), Teppo Manner (Joni)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2015