Moonika Siimets: Two Hours to Happiness | Global Estonian

Moonika Siimets: Two Hours to Happiness

Returning to Estonia

While introducing her new movie Two Hours to Happiness on Hommik Anuga (Morning With Anu), director Moonika Siimets talks about the joys and worries of Estonians searching for happiness in Finland.

‘I figured because there are so many Estonians in Finland that I would quickly find someone who wants to talk about it,’ says Moonika Siimets. In reality, however, it was terribly difficult to find people who would be willing to talk about what they were feeling and thinking. ‘People often want to make it seem that everything is perfect.’

There are as many different stories as there are different people. She said that Estonians living in Finland are all different and so the group cannot be stereotyped. ‘There are people who say they will be eternally grateful to the Finnish state and there are people who feel injustice and discrimination,’ says the director.

Many think that Estonians go to Finland to do jobs that Finns do not want to do themselves. However, many Estonians have very exciting jobs there. ‘Some work as doctors and heads of companies there, too. One of the girls I wanted to film was a top specialist in gold mining,’ Siimets gives an example.

Sometimes, Siimets says, the situation between the two countries seems inevitable. ‘At times, I get sad. It can be a decent and safe life, but on the other hand, your roots and your loved ones are not there to enjoy it with you. Some things can only be understood by another Estonian. You are stuck between two places all the time,’ she says.

Siimets did a lot of interviews in Finland, which gave her an insight into a critical problem in society – the inner emptiness of people. ‘Material things are important, of course, but you also have to take care of your soul, regardless of whether you are in Estonia or Finland,’ she says.

The saddest thing, she says, is rootlessness, and she is particularly worried about the ‘second generation’. ‘Adults who have left Estonia are their own persons who have made their choices. The second generation, however, does not think of themselves as Estonians; they go to Finnish schools and know that the sooner they learn Finnish, the more opportunities they will have in the job market.’

Siimets does not want to criticise the Estonian men who go to work in Finland. ‘When you talk to them on the ship to Finland, sometimes it feels like they are going to war. They are beautiful Estonian and Russian men in their prime, coming ang going. Once you start talking to them, you understand why they do it. I do not want to judge them for that,’ says the director.



More than 70,000 Estonians live or work in Finland while their family – parents, children, and home – are in Estonia. The new documentary Two Hours to Happiness by Moonika Siimets is about adapting to new circumstances while living abroad, keeping and losing your roots, homesickness, and the search for happiness.

The movie, which is funny and a little bit sad at the same time, follows different families in the snowy fields of Lapland, in apartments in Vantaa, on the steps of a shopping mall, on a construction site, in a hotel lobby, and in the living room of an Estonian grandmother waiting for her grandchildren to come home.


Veebilehte haldab Integratsiooni Sihtasutus.
Sihtasutuse asutaja on Eesti Vabariik, kelle nimel teostab asutajaõigusi Kultuuriministeerium.