The film represents a new genre of Finnish science fiction, and a story on a grand scale. Set in the future, the film is a collaboration between top Finnish and international filmmakers, the result of a nearly ten-year process. The internationally co-produced film's scale, unique subject and mix of genres make it a unique production in Finland. With a budget of around four million euros, it is the second most expensive film directed by a woman in Finland, after film Hatching.
Memory of Water tells the story of a time when the world is running out of clean water and the military regime in power is tightly controlling scarce water resources. After her father dies, Noria (Saga Sarkola), the new tea master of a water-scarce village, discovers her family's closely guarded secret: a source of clean drinking water has been preserved in the wilderness.
When Noria discovers that water might also be found in the contaminated Lost Lands, she must decide what to do with the life-threatening information. With the help of her best friend Sanja (Mimosa Willamo) and water-solver Taro (Lauri Tilkanen), she is determined to find a way out of the water shortage, but can she trust them? Will the military regime withhold more water from the people? Can one person save the world from drought?
The film also stars Pekka Strang and Minna Haapkylä. It is scripted by Ilja Rautsi, produced by Misha Jaari and Mark Lwoff from Production company Bufo.
Awakening to the global water issue
Emmi Itäranta's novel Memory of Water was published in 2012 and Saarela read it the following year.
‘At the time, the media, such as Helsingin Sanomat and the Economist, were reporting a lot about water issues and that water was the "new oil" and would become a valuable currency. And we in Finland take water for granted’, says Saara Saarela, who is also a professor of film directing at Aalto University.
‘But Emmi's book questioned this and made direct references to water shortages around the world. Through it the global water issue and climate change got concrete for me. I wanted to address them and the film started to take shape in my mind.’