< Back to projects page

TV-documentary Betoniraudoittajan ripaska (Steelbender’s Trepak), the first part of a two-part documentary Karjalan rakentajat (the Builders of Karelia)
Funded by Euregio Karelia Neighbourhood Programme 2001-2006

Objective of the project

This project wanted to produce a TV documentary series called Karjalan rakentajat (The Builders of Karelia), about the recent past of East Finland, presenting how Kainuu, East and Southeast Finland and their Russian neighbouring region, now the Republic of Karelia, amalgamated into one huge implementation area of construction projects in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The aim of the documentary was to use the means of a TV documentary to relate the goods exchange trade, or clearing commerce, between Finland and the former Soviet Union.

Main activities

• The background phase (collecting the available information on the underlying political and economic grounds of the goods exchange trade of the time from the archives on both sides of the border, seeking for interviewees). • The filming phase (recording the interviews and illustrating the content of the documentary) • The post-production phases (off-line and on-line editing, post-processing picture and sound, colour adjustment and changing the image ratio)


The documentaries were divided into two parts, which the documentary department of Yleisradio (the Finnish Broadcasting Company) has distributed into its own programme categories. The first documentary was told by civil servants, politicians and businessmen who recounted this commercial and political era by reference to its good and bad sides. Interviewees for the documentary were sought from both sides of the border. In other words, the people in the documentary represented the Soviet Union and Finland at the time. The Tositarina documentary (True Story) was told by construction workers from Kuhmo, who recounted the construction of Kostomuksha. The construction of Kostomuksha was one of the most important productions of the goods exchange trade. The aim of the documentary was to decipher the prevailing spirit of the time and what the trade relationship was based on. The documentary tried to shed light on the background of the present trade policy of Finland and Russia and whether Finland and the Finnish should look back on their recent past in search for answers to their problems in trade politics. The project was implemented as expected. On the other hand, the interviews and arguments took the analysis of the documentary to unexpected depths in the hegemony of the goods exchange trade, which may appear strange given the present perspective. The long and thorough background phase was aimed at understanding the underlying political and economic grounds of the goods exchange trade of the time. The background phase found the interviewees and collected the available information from the archives on both sides of the border. The filming phase recorded the interviews and illustrated the content of the documentary. The available and usable material was also looked up from the archives of Yleisradio. The post-production phases of the material were off-line and on-line editing, post-processing picture and sound, colour adjustment and changing the image ratio of the archive material to an image ratio of 16:9. Notwithstanding a few exceptions, all desired interviews were completed, and the content turned out to be more extensive and thorough than originally expected. The first documentary ”Idänkaupan kääntöpuoli” (Flip Side of the Eastern Trade) was viewed on 30 March 2003, and the second documentary ”Tositarina Menopaluu Kostamukseen” (A True Story - Roundtrip Ticket to Kostomuksha) on 01 April 2003, both on Channel 1. The documentaries were widely acclaimed by both the critics and viewers, and the largest national newspapers also wrote positive reviews. As per the programme exchange agreement, Yleisradio forwarded the documentaries to the Nordic channels of Yleisradio, and the programmes were thereby broadcast at least in Sweden. Yleisradio also repeated the broadcasts in 2005.

Basic information



2001-10-01 - 2002-12-31

Total Budget / Programme funding

27 805 € / 12 750 €

Lead partner

Production House Oy Finland
Lead partner web-site


Petrozavodsk National Theatre
Cultural college of Petrozavodsk