In 2007 the Public Works Department of the City of Helsinki (cur the City of Helsinki’s Urban Environment) introduced a unique guided walk during which actors portrayed the famous people memorialised by six statues and monuments in the city centre. The hour-and-a-half drama tour on Helsinki Day, 12 June, proved so popular that it has been held ever since on the city’s birthday, three times during the course of the day. Each tour has attracted around a hundred participants.

Maid, Aurora Karamzin and the empress prepairing for Drama tour on Helsinki Day [Vladimir Pohtokari]

Audiences have commented how history is really brought to life by the entertaining dramatisations. In response, it was decided to immortalise the stories of Helsinki’s statues and monuments by producing short films, allowing the experience to be shared every day of the year. The scripts were also translated and performed in English and Swedish to serve foreign visitors. Swedish-language versions were filmed in 2015.

The implementation of the project began in early spring 2014. The original scripts were written by actor Altti Outinen and project manager Elina Nummi from the Public Works Department (since June 1, 2017 the City of Helsinki’s Urban Environment) using the website and other sources for the biographical information. Tomi Leino from Telling Company Oy then adapted these scripts for the short films, and Edward Crockford from Crockford Communications Oy translated them into English and Staffan Högnäs into Swedish. Jyrki Luoma-aho served as the cameraman and editor for the project.

The films were shot in the second week of June in fine weather amidst the hustle and bustle of Helsinki in early summer. The costumes for the actors were rented from Artistiasu Oy, while the wigs and moustaches were supplied by H. Kuokkanen Peruukkiliike Oy. Elisa Koivuniemi was responsible for makeup and hair. Elina Nummi, Riitta Partanen and Mika Natunen from the Public Works Department all helped out during the filming as assistants. Editing took place during the summer, and sepia tones were used to create a historical atmosphere.

Topelius film shooting; camera man Jyrki Luoma-aho, actor Jan-Christian Söderholm and boom mic operator Mika Natunen [Elina Nummi]

Stylish QR plaques were designed by graphic designer Outi Mansikkamäki and installed by the statues and monuments in September. The plaques feature a pair of QR codes that allow visitors to access the videos easily in either Finnish or English using their mobile devices while standing at the sites. The project was officially launched as part of Helsinki Design Week on 4 September 2014.

“The Statue Talks to You” is intended as a permanent element to help bring Finnish history to life by means of the latest technology. The City of Helsinki’s Urban Environment hopes that these stories will serve as an informative source of entertainment for residents and visitors alike.