Eija-Liisa AhtilaFinnish (Hämeenlinna, Finland, 1959)
Lahja (The Present)
Lahja "The Present" is comprised of five human dramas (Underworld, Ground Control, The Wind, The Bridge, The House), each constituting a different "channel" in a unified, if idiosyncratic, narrative. The footage is based on extensive interviews Ahtila conducted with individual women, in which the participants discussed their own experiences of psychological fragility. In Underworld, for example, a woman hides under her bed in fear. In The Wind, anger becomes a hurricane.
Each of the stories is shown on a separate monitor, and the segments run as a synchronized loop, with two of the stories playing simultaneously. Variable running times cause the monitors to play at different intervals. The process of emotional reconciliation is recurrent in the stories, all of which end with the same short text: "Give yourself a present, forgive yourself."