Inka Achté is a documentary film director, whose newest film Golden Land will be screened in November in Budapest as part of the program at Verzió film festival. Golden Land is about a Finnish family man Mustafe, who after finding out that there is gold on his family's land moves with his whole family to his birth country Somaliland.


Your film Golden land tackles subjects such as belonging and identity. Who are you and where do you belong?

Well, good question. I am Inka Achté and I am Finnish but a big part of my life I have spent abroad. I have had a hate-love relationship with Finland, but nonetheless I guess I still somehow belong in Finland due to for example the language. For me the Finnish language is very important. 

In addition to making my own films, me and my spouse run a film distribution office. Since April I have also been the program manager for the DocPoint-documentary filmfestival. Working with documentary films is a very important part of my identity.


How did you find the main character Mustafe and his family and what originally drew you to their story? 

My friend and colleague Hanna Karppinen knew Mustafe since before and she had heard of Mustafes gold digging plans. Hanna had received a grant for writing the manuscript, which is how she started the project but after she became pregnant she couldn't continue the project as she couldn't travel to Somaliland when Mustafe and his family were moving there. So Hanna called me and asked if I would be interested in joining the project. We agreed that I would direct and Hanna would be the second scriptwriter. 

First I was intrigued by this metaphorical dimension of a treasure hunt. Anyone who has ever held their eyes open in Finland for 2 minutes knows that there is quite a lot of racism here. Even if Mustafe himself didn’t bring this up initially, I thought that maybe one driving factor for the treasure hunt was also a hunt for a better life. 


Racism is one of the themes of Golden Land and your first feature length film Boys who likes girls tackled societal subjects such as misogyny and men fighting against it. Do you think you have a certain goal as a filmmaker? 

I am more driven by curiosity than the need to educate or a societal mission. But I am sure they somehow are bound together also. For example I started making Boys who likes girls when in India in 2012 there was a horrendous group rape. I lived in England back then and there is a big Indian community there so the case came very close to me. I was thinking how I can live knowing that such horrible violence happens to women all the time. Then I heard of these men that were striving to change how specifically men were thinking. I felt like I needed that information at that moment and out of curiosity I started to investigate how they practically were working towards this change.

I started making Golden Land because I wanted to place a mirror in front of Finnish society. We must face how racist we are and how we have treated people who have fled war. But the focus of the film shifted slightly and the theme eventually became how you as a parent will do anything to protect your child from evil, but it is an impossible task. I think Mustafe wanted to protect his children from Finnish racism but by bringing his children to Somaliland he eventually exposed them to other types of difficulties. Even if you do everything, you can’t protect your children forever. That theme became something I could relate to as a parent of a small child, I could relate to Mustafes struggle. 


Both of your feature length films have been filmed partly in cultures that are not familiar to you. What kind of thoughts about representation did you have when you made these films?

Of course I think about this a lot. On one hand I think that identity is such a complex thing that it can’t be specified only by skin color or background. People of color and people with immigrant backgrounds should get to make their own movies and tell their own stories, that is obvious. But I don’t think I should necessarily only film white people. For example Mustafe and I are both in many ways from a similar politically leftist middle-class bubble from southern Finland. The main character from Boys who like girls, Harish, is a university educated feminist just like me. I try to see what we have in common. Of course I am aware that that is also problematic, but it doesn’t mean that it would be any less problematic for me to film for example a working-class white person who votes for the populist right-wing party the Finns Party and who comes from a very different world than me. Where can I find the person who is on all accounts so similar to me that I can film them unproblematically? Actually probably the most ethical way to create content and stories is through Youtube and Tiktok where you film yourself and edit yourself. But I don’t consider that content as films. 

In addition to your experience as a film director, you also have experience as a program director for DocPoint-film festival. What is your view on Finnish film industry?

It has been going forward during the past 20-30 years. When I graduated from Lahti Institute of Design and Fine Arts it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be a fiction film director because I am a woman. Nobody ever said it to me directly, but you only needed to look around to understand that was the case. Because there were none to be found. It is so that you can’t be what you can’t see. But there were a lot of female documentary filmmakers, who were making a lot of interesting and inspiring things so I went on that route. But these days there are a lot of fantastic female fiction directors from my age group and also younger.

Still the Finnish model of funding is behind in development compared to the rest of the Nordic countries. Financiers don't really take any risks, we still have that one celebrated Aki Kaurismäki, unlike for example in Sweden where there is a constant stream of new interesting film makers who all have their own style. But this is slowly also changing in Finland.

The essentials are who sits in a position of power and gives out money and what kind of stories they think are important. It is a bad thing if those in power always come from a very similar background. Finland is quite diverse and it would be desirable that it would also be visible in the films that we produce. 

As I watched for example the DocPoint-films I found, to my horror, that the films that resonated the most with me were made by white European women. I have to be actively aware of the fact that I have these biases and that in deciding positions there is a need for people who all don’t look like me. I would hope that my successor would be for example a brown person. 


What will the future hold for you in addition to being the program director of DocPoint-festival? 

I have a project going on about women's position in the sports world and an animated documentary film about human rights. We also made a short documentary film for kids from the perspective of Jasmin, the middle child in Golden Land, about moving to Somaliland and conquering your own fears. It will soon have its premier in Amsterdam at the IDFA-festival. 


Do you believe in the possibility of films changing the world? 

I believe in it as much as I believe in that possibility for any art form. All culture not only reflects our society but also creates new ways of understanding. I don’t believe in art as a tool to preach but at its best it can make people think in new ways. 



Who: Inka Achté

Profession: filmmaker, program director for DocPoint-festival, festival distributor. 

Favorite film: The Arbor by Clio Bernard and films by Lukas Moodysson 


Golden Land will be screened at the Verzió documentary film festival on Thursday the 10th of November at 18:30 and Saturday the 12th of November at 21:00. Director Inka Achté will be attending the screening on Thursday. 

For more information and tickets see here:



Writer: Reetta Saarikoski

Translation: Rebecka Vilhonen