The 3 Rooms of Melancholia / Melancholian Kolme Huonetta

The Chechen war is the setting for the film. The inability of adults to resolve the war gives rise to a generation upon whom hatred has been visited like the issue of a deity incarnate. Children have taken on a burden of hatred which they believe springs from within. There is no need to seek its causes. The transposed hatred casts a pall to the depths of their minds; they are accompanied throughout their lives by an inexplicable melancholia and sudden outbursts of rage.

The film shows Russian children on Kronstadt, an island that lies before St. Petersburg. There President Putin has established by decree a military school for orphaned children. They are being trained in the Kronstadt cadet academy as child soldiers. The imagined enemy is the Chechen. He is the foe whose utter defeat turns a soldier into a hero of the fatherland.

The film shows Chechen children in Chechya and Ingushetia, in the family of Xhadizhat Gataeva, which now consists of 63 orphans for whom Xhadizhat has vowed to act as mother. She has brought them together from the ruins of a devastated Grozny. Almost all of their parents were killed by the Russians. Xhadizhat herself was placed at the age of six in a Russian children’s home in Grozny Icons of the enemy have been inexorably transposed to both sides.

These children have the serenity of a leafless tree, as if they already had within themselves one life, as if all the pain and longing that go in to adult life, all the relinquishing, had already been endured.

When they fall silent, they look deep into another world. In silence we are all kindred species.


Country of Production

Year of Production

35mm, Digi Beta Pal, Beta SP Pal, HDCam, DCP

106 min

Pirjo Honkasalo

Millennium Film in co-production with Lisbet Gabrielsson Film, Magic Hour Films, Filmproduktion, in association with YLE TV2, ZDF/ARTE, SVT

Original Language
Russian, Chechen, Arabic, Finnish

English, Italian, German, French, Swedish, Danish, Finnish

Festivals / Awards

Venice IFF 2004 (The Human Rights Film Network Award, The Lina Mangiacapre Award and EIUC Special Mention)
CPH:DOX Copenhagen 2004 (CPH:DOX Award)
IDFA 2004 (The Amnesty International – DOEN Award)
Jussi Award 2004 for Best Documentary Film and Best Music of Finland
TEMPO DF Stockholm 2004
DocPoint Helsinki 2005
Sundance 2005
ZagrebDox 2005 (Big Stamp Award in the Int. Competition)
Documentary and Short FF VERA Åland 2005 (VERA Prize)
Tampere International Short FF 2005 (Main Prize in Finnish Competition, Over 30 minues)
Mar del Plata 2005 (ACTA Prize by Signis and Fuena Prize “Visión Artistica”)
Thessaloniki IDF 2005 (FIPRESCI Award for Best Foreign Production and Honorary Award)
Full Frame DFF 2005 (Seeds of War Award)
DocAviv Tel-Aviv 2005 (Special Mention in the category Best International Film)
Chicago IDF 2005 (Arie & Bozena Zweig Innovation Award)
Hot Docs Toronto 2005
One World IFF Prague 2005 (Award for Best Director)
Pärnu IDA FF 2005 (Grand Prix)
Yerevan IFF 2005 (Grand Prix for Best International Documentary Film)
Warsaw Doc Review 2005
Nordisk Panorama Bergen 2005 (Finland´s State Quality Award)
Yamagata IDF 2005
Sheffield IDF 2005
DocLisboa 2005
São Paulo IFF 2005
IDFA Flies Tropics Suriname 2005
Pärnu IDF 2010
Message to Man IFF St. Petersburg 2011
TriContinental FF 2012
ZagrebDox 2014
cph:dox Copenhagen 2014
DocsDF Mexico 2015
Nordic Docs FF Oslo 2015
Valladolid IFF 2015
Docs Against Gravity FF Warsaw 2016
IDFA Amsterdam 2016
CinéDoc IDF Tbilisi 2017
Shanghai IFF 2018

Nominated for the Nordic Council Film Prize 2005
Prix Italia 2005 in the category TV Documentaries - Current Affairs
Shortlisted for Grierson Award 2005 in the category Best International Cinema Documentary
Eurodok Award 2006