Letters from Karelia

Letters from Karelia

| 48 min

This feature-length documentary sheds light on "Karelia Fever," a phenomenon of the 1930s that led many Finnish Canadians to a tragic fate in the Soviet Union. Taimi Pitkanen last saw her brother Aate in Leningrad in 1931. She was returning to Canada from Moscow while her brother was heading to Soviet Karelia, where his skills as an English-Finnish electrician were in demand.

He wrote letters home until 1941, when Hitler attacked the USSR. After that, no one in Canada heard from him. Some 60 years later, letters (written but unmailed) were discovered that revealed his fate and brought together Taimi and Alfred, the son Aate never had a chance to meet. Alfred follows his father's journey from Thunder Bay to Karelia. With him, we learn about Aate and one of the great dreams of the 20th century.

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Letters from Karelia, Kelly Saxberg, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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  • participant
    Alfred Pitkänen
    Taimi Davis
    Jukka Lehesvirta
    Varpu Lindström
    Harold Hietala
    Eila Lahti Argutina
    Martha Hoxell
    Galina Pitkänen
    Joan Miller
    Bill Morris
    Leini Hietala
    Lauri Hietala
    Phoebe Curato
    Arto Rinne
    Anatoli Gordienko
    Polina Kuzmina
  • actor
    Ville Haapasalo
    Allan Best
    Jussi Nikkilä
    Börje Vähämaki
    Timo Puiras
    Igor Vasilyev
    Riku Metsäranta
    Marc Metsäranta
    Esko Pesonen
    Lauri Perttinen
    Martti Puumala
  • director
    Kelly Saxberg
  • producer
    Joe MacDonald
  • executive producer
    Graydon McCrea
  • narration writer
    Robert Lower
  • director of photography
    Richard A. Stringer
  • original music composer
    Ari Lähdekorpi
  • research
    Varpu Lindström
  • historical consultant
    Varpu Lindström
  • narrator
    Liisa Repo-Martell
  • editor
    Kelly Saxberg
  • assistant editor
    Melanie Godecki
  • sound recordist
    Dmitry Koniovchenko
    Martii Turunew
    Ross Redfern
    Ronald Harpelle
    John Martin
    Ed Douglas
  • camera assistant
    Pavel Sukhov
    Arto Kaivanto
    Donald Delorme
    Lori Longstaff
    Machie Kulpa
  • story consultant
    Robert Lower
  • editing consultant
    Robert Lower
  • production manager
    Anna Kornilova
    Reijo Nikkilä
    Ronald Harpelle
  • translator
    Varpu Lindström
    Olga Medvedeva
    Mervi Pitkänen
    Yana Soroka
    Vitaly Semonov
    Eila Lahti Argutina
    Börje Vähämaki
    Goustava Jouravskaia
  • archival film research
    Reijo Nikkilä
    Demin Aleksandr Dmitrievich
    Vitaly Semonov
    Anatoli Gordienko
  • production assistant
    Emily MacMillan
    Martin Kramer
  • graphic design
  • online editor
    Tony Wytinck
  • mixer
    Howard Rissin
  • sound editor
    Danny Johnson
    Melanie Godecki
  • music recording
    Channels Audio & Post
  • production supervisor
    Scott Collins
  • studio administrator
    Cyndi Forcand
  • administrative assistant
    Monique Perron
    Melanie Coad
  • video camera
    Bill Metcalfe
  • driver
    Misha Chertkov
    Oleg Koski
  • casting
    Tanmayo Krupanszky
  • photo animation
    Scott Collins
    Martin Best
    Gabriel Harpelle
  • musician
    Gilles Fournier
    Richard Moody
    Shayla Fink
    Christian Dugas
    Ari Ladhekorpi
    Gary Brenner
  • vocals
    Myles Burdeniuk
    Kevin Young
    Tom Dudych
    Kurt Lehmann
    Spencer Duncanson

  • Shebafilms

    I am so disappointed that the NFB still shows only the 48 minute broadcast version of this film. I does a disservice to the film and was only created for the History Channel which played it with swiffer commercials. Please post the REAL version of this film. You can contact me at shebafilms.com to watch the full length version. Kelly Saxberg director

    Shebafilms, 21 Sep 2016
  • Sandrasteinhoff

    Dear Connie I too am confused. Martha and Matti are also my great aunt and uncle. I know for a fact that Marta Hoxell is alive and well, still living in Thunder Bay Ont. Matti Hoxell was Normans dads brother, therefore your great uncle not your great grandfather.

    Sandrasteinhoff, 23 Feb 2016
  • BishNish

    Dear Connie, I don't understand how Matt Hoxell can be your great grandfather while Martha Hoxell is your great aunt? ... Matt and Martha were married. Also, the last time I checked, Martha was still living.

    BishNish, 10 Jan 2012
  • ConnieHoxell

    My name is Connie Hoxell i live in Thunder Bay Ontario Canada, This documentary speaks of my Great grandfather Matt Hoxell, in this film where they show the old school where Aate Pitkanen attented at the Kivikoski shcool that at one time was my great grandfathers land that he donate so the township could build a school ...To this day the land next to the old school still belongs to the Hoxell's , Martha Hoxell my Great Aunt who also speaks in this film passed away in 2010,at the age of 92 here in Thunder Bay... I bought this CD for my father Norman Hoxell for a Christmas present in 2004, He enjoyed the story aswell as I ...Thks You Martha Hoxell for being able to tell a little of our Hoxell History....R.I.P Martha & Norman Hoxell

    ConnieHoxell, 15 Oct 2011
  • suomalainenflikka

    I thought that this film was really well done. It was packed with information which I had not been given as a descendent of Finnish immigrants. I did know that some people had gone to Russia from Canada pre WW2, but I had never really known why. I was also aware of the fact that there was a "Red Hall" close to where one set of my grandparents lived near Sudbury, Ontario. I have viewed it several times, and have gleaned information each time. Very informative!

    suomalainenflikka, 21 Jan 2011

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