The Outsider Art Festival OAF presents the annual Artist of the Year Award. The winner for 2023 was Mika Ruohola for his film Kylä (The Village). Ruohola is a Vantaa-based journalist and filmmaker. The award was presented on the Night of the Arts on 17 August 2023 at the National Museum of Finland during OAF’s True Equality party.
Ruohola’s documentary film Kylä tells the story of Helsinki’s Puu-Vallila, its rich history and the threat of its destruction. The OAF curators describe the film as a personal and sympathetic documentary with an interestingly chosen point of view: the director, who is also the narrator, watches the history of his own city and district at the same time as an insider and as an outsider. Mika Ruohola’s mentor was Kalle Pajamaa.
The winner of the Artist of the Year award will receive a Golden Elvis statue by Satu Nekala and a €1000 scholarship from the Saastamoinen Foundation. In addition, the artist and her work will receive international visibility. This year, in addition to the OAF film screenings, Ruohola’s film will also be screened at the Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival in Canada in October.
The jury for the Artist of the Year award was composed of the OAF artistic team, the curators of the film programme Niklas and Joonas Nyholm, the mentors Ilona Ahti and Pekka Elomaa and the director of the Outsider Art Fair, Sofía Lanusse.
“The film succeeds in what is most difficult in filmmaking. It touches the heart of the viewer and stays in the mind. The images haunt you, and you find yourself returning to them,” says Ilona Ahti, mentor of the film programme. “Kylä highlights concrete aspects of the horror of war, but also shows how we can survive it together. How flowers can still bloom if everyone decides to protect something important to them. Mika Ruohola has made his film with great emotion and impressive professionalism. The elements of the film support each other and create a moving whole. I look forward to Mika’s next films with great anticipation!”
Ruohola himself thanks the jury for their positive and encouraging feedback. He says he is speechless and that he has process getting the award for a bit so that there is no tension left. “I have a new film project in the pipeline for next year. I’m planning a film about sex workers and the history of prostitution,” Ruohola reveals.
Ruohola’s Village was screened at the National Museum on 17 August from 19-22 as part of the OAF Opening. The Village will also be screened at the OAF Film Screening at Kino Regina on 19 August from 11-13, and will also be available on the OAF Online Stage until the end of the year.