Skip to content

Ben Strout, Fire and Ice

Inaugural Lecturer of the Year: 2006

The FFN Board chose as its first LOY filmmaker Ben Strout, director of the documentary Fire and Ice.

Strout has no Finnish heritage but developed an enormous curiosity about the 1939-40 Winter War between Russia and Finland, a curiosity that he satisfied by researching and producing this documentary film. The film premiered in August 2005 at FinnGrandFest in Marquette, Michigan, where it was shown to large, enthusiastic crowds.

By mid-March 2006 it had been shown on over 25 PBS television stations and was being featured at several prestigious film festivals, from Newport Beach, California to Minneapolis, Minnesota. At the Minneapolis Film Festival in May 2006 it garnered an award as the best documentary film.The first LOY-designated showing of Fire and Ice was at the all-chapter Finlandia Foundation meeting in Seattle in May 2006. Additional showings happened in September in Hobart, New York coordinated by FFN-trustee Ilkka Kalliomaa, and in Washington, DC hosted by the National Capital Chapter. The latter event also featured the writer William Trotter (Frozen Hell).

Viewing this film is an emotional experience. The trauma of the Winter War caused an intense sympathy and unity among Finnish Americans in 1939-1940, and the response to reliving that event today seems no less dramatic. An almost forgotten chapter of World War II was front and center once again.

Jon L. Saari, LOY Coordinator

Note: A DVD of Fire and Ice is available to FFN members from the FFN Lending Library.