Interview: Teemu Nikki and Jani Pösö talk The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic [SXSW 2022]

Petri Poikolainen as Jaakko in The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic
Petri Poikolainen as Jaakko in The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic. Pic credit: SXSW

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic is the latest feature film to come from the filmmaking duo Teemu Nikki and Jani Pösö. Making its North American premiere at the 2022 South by Southwest festival, the thriller follows a wheelchair-bound blind man who decides to travel alone to reach the woman he loves — Sirpa.

Told through the perspective of the blind man, Jaakko, viewers are left unnerved as they watch him go on his journey while relying on the help of five strangers. Monsters and Critics had the opportunity to chat with the writer, director, and co-producer Nikki and his co-producing counterpart Pösö about the creation of the film, their real-life inspiration, and their favorite scene to shoot.

“The inspiration is the actor Petri Poikolainen. We used to be in the Finnish army when we were young. We were acting there. There was an Officer School end party and we had a theatrical play,” recalled Nikki about his film’s subject. “After that, like 20 years later, he called me and said that he had followed my career and he became an actor, but around 10 years ago, he was diagnosed with MS disease and now he’s blind and in a wheelchair.”

The writer continued, “I was shocked at first, but almost immediately, I asked him, ‘Do you still want to act?’ and he said ‘yes’. So then, we started to think about what we could do.”

Nikki first began to conceptualize the story as a short film before releasing that the idea was so “unique” it needed to be a feature film. “The idea of this character, Jaakko, traveling alone comes from Petri because he still does travel alone. He told me that he has to trust five unknown persons on those trips, which would have been quite difficult to do it in a short film”

He continued, “I wanted to give the audience the feeling of how slow life is when you are blind and in a wheelchair, because everything happens very slowly. A short film wouldn’t be enough to get that feeling.”

Monster & Critics: What were some of the biggest production challenges and accommodations you had to make?

Teemu Nikki: The timing — because Petri couldn’t do the part anymore. His condition has gotten worse and we had to plan the shooting in a way that he had the strength to do it. He has constant cramps. He’s in pain almost all the time. He’s an actor and he loves what he does. He doesn’t always think about himself. We had to make sure that he was okay because he didn’t complain. He didn’t say anything, even [when] he was hurting.

M&C: What was your initial reaction to the script?

Jani Pösö: We’ve been making films together for more than 10 years. My initial reaction was to go: We are making our next film. We didn’t have a script and we didn’t have the time to do it, but we made the decision to make it because it was a must. We were actually thinking that if we wouldn’t do this, we would regret for the rest of the life for not giving Petri the opportunity to act again. The decision making process was five minutes, basically.

M&C: What do you think is the biggest takeaway of the movie?

Teemu Nikki: I think the most important thing is to see the world for a while through a disabled person. Put the audience in a wheelchair for one hour and 20 minutes and I’m sure after that, they will empathize with disabled people and see that they need love and touching like anybody else.

Jani Pösö: I totally think the same. Everybody needs love. But then there’s another thing, I think for the whole project and the subject in general. If you have a dream and you really want to fulfill it, it’s actually possible. Whether your dream is to get to your love, or act in a feature film.

M&C: The character goes on this journey where he is trying to get to the love of his life and he’s facing different challenges, and meeting different people – What portion was your favorite in the film?

Jani Pösö: I still get shivers about the dancing scene. There’s something really magical in that scene. There’s so much stuff that you cannot actually explain. I mean, it’s the light of the sun that comes from the window that wasn’t designed. There’s quite a lot of that stuff happening in this scene.

Read our review of the movie.

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic is currently awaiting distribution.

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