Synopsis: Two top orienteers from decades past travel to Lapland to set out on a four-day skiing expedition. But when the couple is struck by a blinding snowstorm in the wilderness, they are forced to make tough choices in life-threatening circumstances. The once-familiar trip turns into an impossible navigational task: which direction is the right one and how to find home when you can’t tell earth from sky?
The first time I heard about Tuomo and Liisa Peltola’s exceptional winter hike in the Lapland wilderness, I was struck by the unique surroundings and many cinematic moments the story provided. As we got better acquainted with Tuomo and Liisa, we stumbled into yet another striking feature: the vast difference between their personalities. Liisa, who has always emphasized spiritualism and humanism, made her career as a student counselor while Tuomo is a very analytical and dry-witted retired engineer. Despite (or because of) their differences, they are an inseparable couple that likes to move in the nature a lot, both of them capable of anticipating each other’s reasoning, even in tough situations.
Wandering in the White is about survival, perseverance and calm thinking without being a heroic story of the classical tradition. It reminds us that not even lengthy experience can shield us from something unexpected happening on our own journeys – especially when forces of nature are pitted against the fragility of a human being. At its core, it’s a humane story about a man who is forced to question his understanding of the world and make way for new perspectives.
When the hypothermia-stricken Tuomo was rescued, his body temperature was only 22 degrees Celsius. In medical circles, survival of this kind is called a miracle. The marks left by the dramatic hike ended up being only physical and not mental. According to Tuomo, his brain is just as frozen as before.
Otto Heikola is a Finnish film editor and director as well as one of the founding members of the production company Side Stories Ltd. He graduated from the Tampere University of Applied Sciences film program in 2014. He, along with Riitta Poikselkä, was nominated for the Finnish Jussi Award for editing the feature documentary Punk Voyage (dir. Jukka Kärkkäinen & J-P Passi, Mouka Filmi 2017), a follow-up film to the highly acclaimed Punk Syndrome (2012). His other editing works include feature documentaries Back Towards Light (dir. Arto Halonen, Art Films production 2018), Hobbyhorse Revolution (dir. Selma Vilhunen, Tuffi Films 2017) and White Rage (dir. Arto Halonen, Art Films production 2015). Otto wrote and directed the short documentaries Wandering in the White (Side Stories 2019) and Mother’s Day Gift (co-directed by Anniina Kauttonen, Side Stories 2018) as well as the feature documentary The Long Shift (Hyperfocus, 2014).