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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.

  • 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


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Ages 15 to 17

Civics/Citizenship - Ideologies
History - World War II

Have students investigate Stalin's Great Purges and examine the factors that contributed to his success. Have students write a research essay on the Winter War and its resolutions.

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