Press clipping of this unknown tragedy, from 1944 found in "Säpos pressklippspärm",at Riksarkivet, Stockholm. Note from Dagens Nyheter 1945.

2018-2020 The Finnish refugees in Vilhelmina - To visualize documentary stories with (almost) no documentation



Silent Displacement - The unknown deportation of Ingria. Documentary film, SVT, 2019




Archive Footage: 

  • Private photos


  • Inkeriläisten sivistyssäätiö sr
  • Inkerin liitto (1921 - 1944)


  • Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, Finska Litteratursällskapet, SKS


  • Kansallisarkisto/Riksarkivet/Helsingfors
  • SA-bild/Försvarsmaktens bildarkiv


  • Siirtolaisuusinstituutin arkisto / Migrationsinstitutets arkiv, Finland


  • Riksarkivet, Stockholm
  • Kansanperinteen arkisto, Tampereen yliopisto



Inspiration, american painter and artist Amy Bennett, miniature houses


Tell the story - make the film, without traditional archive material - a challenge

The Finnish refugees in Vilhelmina - To visualize documentary stories with (almost) no documentation

How can I, as a documentary filmmaker, find ways to depict historic events that has none or little documentation in the forms of film, radio or photography?

It started with a press-clipping from 1944 with a few lines about an unknown tragedy in Västerbotten towards the end of World War II. I read in the article that 17 children had died during unclear circumstances. But I later found no footage and very little documentation of this tragedy. I began to think of ways to tell this story despite this. How could I make this tragic story a film that could in a way preserve the memories? In what form? Later I found out that there where in fact 28 children that had died. How was it possible that this tragic event have remained unknown? 

Parallell with this process I have written a master´s essay, and when I started building the exposition it felt natural to chose the form of the timeline, for the research and the filmproject "28 barn i Vilhelmina" (working title) 

I have also chosen to feature a timeline for the last part of another documentary film, "Det hände i Ingermanland" as this project has similiarities with my current. This comparison is also made in my master thesis.

The challenge and part of the method!

To tell this story despite lack of archive footage and few survivors/ characters


To visualize memorories that have no visual documentation, illustrations by artist Catherine Anyango Grünewald, for SVT

Catalogue card (katalogkort) over the deceased children, Riksarkivet, Härnösand, Spring 19


Course, pre-viz, SKH, Mirko Lempert. Building the world, finding out what we need and what shots that would work. 

2. How can the miniature help me tell this story right?  


The film, "Det hände i Ingermanland", 59 minutes, SVT, January 19, link on request

Building up the model/scenography: Emanu Garnheim, test 1

Map, Vilhelmina 1950s, Lantmäteriet. 

Research for planning of modelbuilding. To find positions of barack and get overview of Vilhelmina around the time of the tragedy. 


Meetings & discussions about scale. 

Why does it need to be this or that scale? What is too big or small? 

Test shoot, SKH, fotostudion, November 19

Visits in Vilhelmina and meeting Tyra, the witness. Trip with photographer Pia Lehto in spring 19

Essä, Hög tid att berätta, RPK course, VT19, Handledare Ingela Josefson

(Sending text on request)

Archive footage, showing the first part of the evacuation, from Finland to Sweden, 1944, Source:

The miniature world, fits the tragic story. Distanced in a way but at the same time dignified and with warmth. Real and unreal at the same time


Private photos, Tyra Hansson, Vilhelmina

Theories of "Postmemory", Marianne Hirsch, reference in my RPK-text.

2. Focus on stories from the past that lack archive footage. A research field that interests me

The long queue outside Kino Regina, Docpoint Helsinki, for the screening of the film "Det hände i Ingermanland" in January 2020

Script, ongoing, mid-term version 

"Be Prepared to Take Poetic License to Portray a Larger Truth", quote by filmmaker Ken Burns, (Source: Masterclass) 


Seminar with dramaturg John Yorke about storytelling, SVT, Tempo 2020, "Into the woods".

Filmings, SKH, Filmstudion, January 2020

Catherine Anyango Grünewald / SVT 2019

Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto

(The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law)

Quote by Roman thinker and philosopher Cicero. A quote that is cited a lot, by instutions etc during the pandemic spring 2020, because of its relevancy. 




Realizing that the story indeed has a conflict! A fight to help the refugees, but with little help from the people with power, for example the experts in Stockholm



Article, connects past and present. Then and now. 

Edit process, back and forth and back. 

Trying to integrate archive documents, such as close ups of the few images I have in the miniature world. 

Cultural & Collective Memory 

Jan Assmann



KB, National Archive in Stockholm, open parts of their archive online during spring 20 due to the pandemic. Finding new articles about the tragedy. 


The research, recurrent in all stages of process. Part of method. 

– Om jag berättade om det, vad skulle jag säga? Skulle jag berätta om tiden? Det hände för länge sedan, i slutet av ett långt krig. Eller skulle jag berätta om platsen? En liten stad nära fjällen, men långt ifrån allt annat.

Voice over, test, start of film, Work in Progress, May 20

Password: SKH intervju20

SKH, exam interview by Bengt Bok about the process 

The master's essay, 28 barn i Vilhelmina - Att visualisera det som (nästan) aldrig har dokumenteratsMay 20. Supervisor: Ingela Josefson

(Sending on request after May 20:th 2020)

Documentary footage, Vilhelmina, stills from filmings by Pia Lehto


"28 barn i Vilhelmina", the final film, making production plans and budget, planning for release 2021

Archive Footage: 

  • Private
  • Riksarkivet
  • Lantmäteriet
  • Krigsarkivet
  • Dagens Nyheter
  • Svenska Dagbladet
  • Expressen
  • Hudiksvallstidningen
  • Aftonbladet
  • Norrskensflamman