PEOPLE WE COME ACROSS
Mia Halme / Finland / 2021 / 80 min
700 Finnish tourists travel to Benin to take part in a vaccine trial in an understatedly funny film with a warm eye for human flaws and the tension between good intensions and harmful effects.
A bus full of Finnish tourists is on its way to Gran Popo, Benin. They are not going on a beach holiday, but to take part in a voluntary research trial on a vaccine against E. coli bacteria. With humour and a warm eye for human error and misunderstanding, ‘People We Come Across’ moves into a bit of a cross-cultural minefield where the fight against deadly diseases is nevertheless the real goal. Director Mia Halme herself does not just observe the experiment’s twists and turns from a safe distance, but actively participates in it with her own body. At a time when vaccines have become hot topic of conversation again, her film is a welcome – and often very funny – contribution to nuancing the conversation on global health policy.