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Canned Dreams

A lyrical and moving documentary charting the sometimes disturbing stories of the people and practices behind modern food production.

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.

Canned Dreams

  • Director Katja Gauriloff
  • Producer Joonas Berghäll
  • Screenwriter Katja Gauriloff, Joonas Berghäll, Jarkko T Laine
  • Finland 2012
  • 81 mins
  • Sales Deckert Distribution

This lyrical and episodic documentary builds a moving – and at times shocking – collage of unseen stories behind the mass-produced food we consume today. Using the manufacture of the many components of what some might consider a ‘simple’ can of ravioli as a guiding narrative drive, director Katja Gauriloff takes us across thousands of miles to the numerous countries where each are sourced. Workers share often very personal stories of their experiences, hopes and dreams; their monologues overlaid across images of them grafting in wheat fields, olive groves, bauxite mines, factory farms and abattoirs. Exploring similar terrain to films such as Our Daily Bread, Gauriloff here uses a powerful combination of image and testimony to open up a series of invisible lives (both human and animal) on a much more personal and immediate level, offering a most humbling and thought-provoking insight into our modern globalised world.
Sarah Lutton

Director statement

Canned Dreams is a journey through the phases of food production with a dream-like, almost nightmarish atmosphere. The journey begins in one of the biggest open-pit mines in Brazil and ends after 30,000 kilometres on the shelf of a grocery store in Finland. The idea for the film came from one cheap ready meal sold in Finland, and the wide range of ingredients this can of food contained. We started looking up just how many different countries all these ingredients came from. Despite the research behind this film, it is symbolic and could be about any globally manufactured product. The truth is far more amazing and brutal than film. For me it was obvious from the start that I did not want to concentrate on the chain of production alone, but the people behind it. I wanted to know whose hands picked the tomatoes, what goes on in the head of a pig butcher, and what are the hopes and dreams of someone toiling away in a tin mine. All these people found their way into my film. The real motivation for the film came from the time when I had a summer job at a sausage factory in the beginning of the 1990s. I was 18-years-old and travelled from Lapland to Helsinki to get a job. It was the first and only time I have ever worked in a factory. My job packing sausages on a conveyor belt was both physically demanding and monotonous. There was a break of 7 or 10 minutes every hour, just enough time to run into the break room for a coffee. Those were the best moments in the day, to sit in the break room with other factory women, some of whom had worked there for 30 years, while they had a quick smoke. I did not always understand what they said in their old Helsinki slang, but some of their stories were very racy. I sat there quietly, listening and taking in their life experiences, dreams and hopes. My own dreams lay far away from the dark world of the gloomy factory. It took us four years to make this film. There were many days of travel, new cultures and people. For me this was a grand journey and a personal experience I want to share with the audience. The most important part for me was meeting people. The desire to share their stories was strong among those who had probably never been asked before. I did not find the differences in our language and culture to be a hindrance. We were just two similar people sharing their emotions and lives. The dreams in our hearts are important, because they sustain life. The hope of a brighter future is stored in our dreams.
Katja Gauriloff

Director biography

Born in Inari, Lapland, in 1972, she studied film directing at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences, School of Art and Media, and graduated in 2004. She is now part-owner of the Oktober Production Company. Her documentary A Shout into the Wind was awarded the State Quality Support for Cinema Productions in Finland in 2008.


2003 Vanhan miehen viimeinen päivä (The Last Day of His Life) [s]
2004 Hyviä aikeita (Sincere Intentions) [s]; Pei´vv Paašt [doc s]
2007 Huuto Tuuleen (A Shout into the Wind) [doc]
2008 Sopimus (Contract) [doc; co-d]
2012 Canned Dreams [doc]

Read the Time Out review.

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