“Finland has been closing its village schools since the 60s and there are no signs this process will end. While the Finnish educational system is glorified globally.” - Helsinki Education Film Festival

Available Worldwide

Live Panel: Rural and Community Education in Mexico and Finland (Films THE SOWER and WHEN SCHOOL BROKE OUT OF PRISON)

Tuesday May 4
8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. (Seattle time)

WHEN SCHOOL BROKE OUT OF PRISON Film Director Päivi Kapiainen-Heiskanen
Zsuzsa Millei, Professor Faculty of Education and Culture Tampere University, Finland.

THE SOWER Film Director Melissa Elizondo
Educator Carlos Ornelas, Professor Metropolitan Autonomous University, Mexico



• Best Educational Film - Helsinki Education Film Festival 2020


What would you do if the school close-to-home was closing because there weren’t enough students? This inspiring, suspenseful documentary immerses us in a rural community in Eastern Finland as they try to save their 100-year-old school (as many traditional rural schools are being closed throughout Finland in the early 2000’s). One of the first steps the community takes is to put an add in the paper asking families to help save their school by moving to their town, “families with under four kids need not apply.” Many large families do respond, with interest in moving. This story exemplifies the Finnish "talkoot" tradition, meaning working together for the common good without pay. Experienced educator Juha Juurikkala, becomes the head and teacher of the Halmeniemi Free Village School, without remuneration, accepting to do this during his paternity leave, only “if someone can take care of my daughter”. He applied a model of pedagogy of joy leading to a more experimental and participatory learning experience for the children, families and community members. But for how long can the community succeed in keeping their school, run on goodwill and no salaries, open? An extraordinary tale of small community activism carried out by ordinary people to fight to preserve their vanishing way of life. Don’t miss it!

About the director

Päivi Kapiainen-Heiskanen is a Finnish journalist and filmmaker. She recently wrote and directed the award-winning feature documentary TOYOTA AND WINDBREAKER (2019), about an entrepreneur battling corporation take-overs.

You can rent (for free) the films again after your watch window for the rental ends.

Original Title

Kun Koulu Vapautui Vankilasta


Päivi Kapiainen-Heiskane



Bonus Content

Trailer Cinematic Spaces in Education Film Festivalette
3 mins

Trailer of the seventh edition of the CIES 2021 Education Film Festivalette.