"Actors are wonderful, fascinating creatures," says Alma Pöysti. "Growing up around the theatre, I found it to be a magical world, and I was spellbound by their transformations. I had the deepest respect for all the hard work and care that went into crating a performance."
The Finnish actress is the daughter of director Erik Pöysti, and the granddaughter of actors Lasse Pöysti and Birgitta Ulfsson, so the theater was always present in her life. As Pöysti reflects, "I longed to be part of this world... I was around 20 years old when I was brave enough to pursue this dream, and today, I feel extremely privileged and grateful to get to do what I'm passionate about."
An alumnus of the Finnish National Theatre and Swedish Theatre, Pöysti portrayed the famous Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson in the 2020 biopic, Tove. Her new film is Fallen Leaves, a bittersweet rom-com about two lonely lovebirds from legendary Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki.
"I am full of admiration for the humanity and care that is present in all the work of Aki Kaurismäki," says Pöysti. "Working with him was such a joy and a journey to old school filmmaking. I was inspired by Aki's honesty, straightforwardness and brilliant sense of humor. Fallen Leaves is a seemingly simple story, but the closer you look, you realize it's full of layers and complexity."
The fourth entry in Kaurismäki's acclaimed Proletariat Trilogy, Fallen Leaves premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize. For the actress, the experience was life-changing. "After working with Aki, I find myself occupied with questions like: How little can you do to tell a story? How pure can you act? Are you brave enough to let the camera in on that?"
The movies that have meant the most to Pöysti throughout her life have equally challenged everything she thought she knew about art and life. Below, Pöysti shares with A.frame her Top 5.
Written and Directed by: Charlie Chaplin
From the age of 5, a babysitter introduced me to the films of Charlie Chaplin. We used to watch them together over and over again. The Tramp became a hilarious, loving and loyal friend — in his company you would never, ever be bored. This relationship continues to this day.
As a child, I thought Modern Times was just endlessly funny and exciting, only later realizing how deeply critical it was on the industrialization of humanity. As an actor, I have such an admiration for Charlie Chaplin's musicality and the rhythm of his acting. The accents, the glissandos, the syncopations, the contrasts. The acting is so precise, the messiness is perfection. It is all absolutely irresistible!
As you know certain songs from your childhood by heart, so is the case with this film. It's part of my DNA, my spine, my cells, a treasure I guess I share with a great part of humankind.
Directed by: Jon Avnet | Written by: Fannie Flagg and Carol Sobieski
As an early teenager, I saw this wonderful film, and it really made a strong impact on me. Through the story, I got to experience different shapes and forms of womanhood, and it was empowering. This film also showed me what friendship, caring, loyalty can look like…and love!
I was spellbound by the acting of Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Stan Shaw. The characters were so brave, funny and venerable at the same time. In a time and a place far from my own, their struggles and hardships felt so real. I shared their pain and was devastated by their sorrows; battling with their self-esteem and challenged by the conventions and society of their time. Fried Green Tomatoes awakened a sense of justice: Who is to define right or wrong when it comes to love of friendship? And who is to say what a woman should be like?
Inspired by Idgie Threadgoode, I still aspire to become a bee charmer one day…
Directed by: Emir Kusturica | Written by: Gordan Mihić
I remember being blown away by the power and joy of Kusturica's movies. Black Cat, White Cat is a fantastic piece of art. Kusturica's imagination has rules of its own, and he seems to push every boundary… I love the anarchy, non-correctness and wildness always present in his films. Watching this film is to take a leap, never knowing what comes next; there is a constant surprise behind the corner.
The people inhabiting his world are genuine, absurd, violent, charming and drastic. The music invades your every cell. It's endlessly funny — even the animals and the landscapes have a sense of humor. To know there is a world like this gives me great joy. Black Cat, White Cat is such a powerful celebration of life!
Directed by: Richard Eyre | Written by: Richard Eyre and Charles Wood
Years ago, I saw this film with my mother at a movie theatre in Helsinki, and it was such a precious moment to share. Iris is a film I find myself returning to, though I can't watch it without crying my eyes out. It's about a brilliant mind falling apart, about an extraordinary writer who loses her words and her intellect. The movie gets me in touch with the fragility and the equality of life — and death. It triggers the fear of decline and the loss of control as a human ages.
The acting is superb, so powerful yet so fragile; Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Bonneville seem to have paper-thin skin, delivering these roles with such integrity, respect, curiosity and heart. It takes sensitivity, trust and courage to go where they go, and they get me feeling the same sense of a growing and burning panic in my own heart. Though it is a very sad film, it also salutes the human mind and capability, also being a story about loyalty and freedom, told in such a touching and warm manner.
Directed by: Terry Jones | Written by: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin
Life of Brian is one of my all time favorite films, and I really think the Monty Python ensemble is a wonderful gift to humankind. The intelligence, boundless humor, and the joy of life that run through their work is simply contagious. Life of Brian is like a 'what if' game with history and religion, and where all the 'isms' of the world get their fair share of Monty Python's satire.
It is such an intelligent, playful, anarchistic and deeply critical film — never taking anything, including themselves, too seriously. The world would really be a much duller place without the works of Monty Python.