Carnival Pilgrims

(Documentary, Finland, 2020, 87’, C, En ST)

by Mika Mattila

Carnival Pilgrims


Nomad caravans traversing boundless wastelands… Solemn pilgrim dragging a heavy cross through Via Dolorosa… Japanese couple in a hysterical frenzy at the sight of Santa Claus… Crowds struggling for a perfect selfie in front of Mona Lisa… Backpackers whispering in awe at the sight of an ancient tribal ritual… What makes us move? Why the restless desire to rest somewhere far away? Carnival Pilgrims is a cinematic reflection on the phenomena of global tourism and the perpetual desire to be somewhere else.


«When I tell people about the basic concept of the film, I often face a certain bafflement. Especially so, after I’ve explained that I’m not at all interested in the more extreme types of tourism (war, sex, shock tourism etc.), but in such commonplace phenomena like sightseeing, lying on the beach, taking selfies or visiting museums. And indeed, if you do not happen to be one of the travellers yourself, tourism is actually a rather boring stuff. And this is precisely why tourism interests me: due to its absolute banality, we all think that we know what it is all about, yet we don’t. I feel that in tourism, we have a massive blind spot in relation to the idea of ourselves, a revelatory opening to the nature of contemporary experience.» Mika Mattila


« This isn’t a long film, yet it feels massive in scope. Mattila has traversed the globe in an effort to capture events from North America to the Nepal. Connected through three movements, Carnival Pilgrims creates an emotional bridge throughout history that transcends exposition. Poetic motion through space and time allows us to understand our effect on this earth and other cultures. More esoteric moments combined with narration from the epic of Gilgamesh reach the highs of Godfrey Reggio’s brilliant KOYAANISQATSI. » Joonatan Itkonen,

Film Author :

Mika Mattila
Mika Mattila

Mika Mattila is a Finnish filmmaker specialising in the creative documentary films that explore the boundaries of the genre as an art form. He is the founder of the Helsinki based production company Ideasthetic llc and divides his time between the roles of a producer, director and cinematographer, with his cinematography consistently screening at major international film festivals around the world. Between 2005 and 2012 he lived permanently in Beijing, China, and he continues to work in East Asia on a regular basis. Mattila’s directorial debut, Chimeras (2013) examines the identity crisis in Chinese modern society through the lives of two contemporary artists. This thought-provoking film has toured the festival circuit across the globe, gaining few prizes and a high critical acclaim. Carnival Pilgrims (2020) is his second feature-length documentary.

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