3 user 1 critic

Tulennielijä (1998)

The twin sisters Helena and Irene are born in Helsinki during World War II. A few months later their mother, Sirkka, leaves the girls in the care of their grandmother, an old communist, and... See full summary »


Pirjo Honkasalo


Pirkko Saisio
12 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Elina Hurme Elina Hurme ... Helena
Tiina Weckström Tiina Weckström ... Mother
Elena Leeve Elena Leeve ... Helena 14 Years
Elsa Saisio Elsa Saisio ... Irene 14 Years
Vappu Jurkka Vappu Jurkka ... Grandmother
Jordi Borrell Jordi Borrell ... Ramon
Sari Havukainen Sari Havukainen ... Helena 8 Years
Inka Vogt Inka Vogt ... Irene 8 Years
Unna Kitti Unna Kitti ... Girl
Per Ragnar ... Circus Director
Jani Volanen ... Clown
Sulevi Peltola Sulevi Peltola ... Arvo
Tõnu Kark ... Russian Officer
Kristo Salminen ... Heinz
Eeva-Maija Haukinen Eeva-Maija Haukinen ... Godmother #1


The twin sisters Helena and Irene are born in Helsinki during World War II. A few months later their mother, Sirkka, leaves the girls in the care of their grandmother, an old communist, and runs away with a German soldier. Their life under the protection of their grandmother and the teachings of communism ends first with the death of Stalin, then with that of their grandmother. The girls are eight years old when they are put in an orphanage. Their mother shows up at the orphanage in the company of Ramon, a Spanish trapeze artist. They are on a talent search for a German circus. Ramon trains the reluctant Irene during circus tours in Central Europe. She becomes the trapeze star of the circus. The hard work soon exhausts Irene and she falls from height, as if on purpose. Helena has secretly learned the art of fire-eating. Now she is burdened with both her mother and her sister. The violent life, however, separates the three from each other. In the present-day Helsinki the middle-aged ... Written by Anonymous

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Finland | Sweden


Finnish | German | Russian | Spanish

Release Date:

30 October 1998 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Fire-Eater See more »

Filming Locations:

Helsinki, Finland See more »


Box Office


FIM 8,823,603 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The director, Pirjo Honkasalo, is 'also known as Pirjo Irene' (IMDB info) - the latter of which is the same name given to one of the twin sisters (Irene); that played by actress Elsa Saisio - who thus shares the same (real) surname as the screenwriter, Pirkko Siasio, and of whom, is the director's partner. See more »


Featured in Ammatti: elokuvaohjaaja - Pirjo Honkasalo (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

An Emotionally Powerful Film
6 June 1999 | by jugeSee all my reviews

"Life consists of the gifted and those who serve"(the 25th Seattle International Film Festival official program). The film nostalgically shows a middle-aged lady (Helena)'s memory of her relationship with her twin sister, Irene, who was a star in a circus. Their extraordinary love led them to a fatal separation, when Helena found out that Irene stole her only skill 'fire-eating'. It's a memory of remorse. The stunning images and repeated symbological scenes made an emotionally powerful film.

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