The Bystander

documentary short film

8 min


Topi is a retiree living on the island of Utö in the Finnish archipelago. At Utö the landscape is dominated by the sea, rocks and a lighthouse rising in the middle of the island. The sea and its phenomena are present both physically and as a constant topic of conversation.

Topi moved to the island in the 1950s to work at a military fort. Because Utö is a bilingual island, as the years went by Topi learned to speak Swedish in addition to his native language, Finnish. Topi was too bilingual until he lost his Swedish skills as a result of a stroke.

Through Topi’s story, the film deals with the relationships between man and nature and between language and surroundings. What is left when language disappears?