Forbidden Fruit tempts international audiences
Karukoski was inspired to make the story after meeting a young woman who had left Conservative Laestadianism, a Lutheran revival movement with many adherents in Finland. Conservative Laestadians reject contraception, alcohol, film and television, and take a literal view of the Bible.
“Dancing is prohibited, for example, because in the bible, Salome's dancing so excited Herod that she got him to cut off the head of John the Baptist,” says Karukoski.
Forbidden Fruit follows two young women who leave their small community to explore secular life in Helsinki. Many young women in the faith, like those depicted in the film, are uncomfortable with the limits the church puts on them, Karukoski says. “You find a lot of girls who 18 and 19, who are discovering their sexuality, and who leave the church because of the pressure.”
The film was released in Finland in February and has surpassed the 100,000 admissions benchmark for box office success. “There are 110,000 Laestadians [in Finland], and if you think of all the people who have left the church, eventually you have 250,000 people who are somehow connected to this church in Finland, but there's never been a TV series or film about them,” Karukoski says.
The film generated discussion in the Finnish media. Few Laestadians saw the film, as the church's teachings prohibit cinema-going, but Karukoski received feedback from a few who who wanted to correct what they saw as inaccuracies in the film. “At first they were afraid of it. Were their children going to be bullied in school when their friends see the film? At the same time they were proud of it and glad that someone did it,” the director says.
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