They Came in Crowded Boats and Trains is a short film that brings historical context to the present refugee situation and presents a different perspective of Finnish history, making Northern Finland visible as a place that people have both escaped from and sought shelter in.

In the latter half of 2015, 30,000 asylum seekers, mainly from Iraq, crossed the border from Haparanda, Sweden to Tornio. However, less than one hundred years ago, the stream of refugees flowed in the opposite direction as 56,000 Finns fled to Sweden across the same border during September and October 1944.

The exhibition version of They Came in Crowded Boats and Trains premiered at the Turku Art Biennale on 16 November 2017.

Rainio & Roberts were awarded the 8th Turku Biennial prize for the film on 19 February 2018.

Written and directed by Minna Rainio & Mark Roberts -
Produced by Flatlight Creative House -

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They Came in Crowded Boats and Trains
single-screen video


written & directed by
minna rainio & mark roberts

maria gullsten

director of photography
ilmari mannermaa

jani johansén

soundscape & composer
janne airaksinen


produced by
Flatlight Creative House

funded by
AVEK / Tuuli Penttinen-Lampisuo
KONE Foundation
Kordelin Foundation
Arts Promotion Center Finland
Rovaniemen Kylien Kehittämissäätiö