Documentary, 81 min. Year: 2018


Back Towards Light is a dramatized documentary film about a Finnish woman who becomes a victim of human trafficking and goes through an unimaginable journey to stay alive, get to safety and maintain her sense of self.


Newly graduated Marissa gets a job at an international law consulting company. Marissa is excited about a chance to start a new, independent life. She has been hired by a Finnish man of North African heritage. The work is challenging but rewarding, and Marissa is given a lot of responsibility. Before long Marissa is sent to Germany to make purchases for the company and eventually her boss meets her there. The previously charming man starts to behave threateningly and turns violent. 

From Germany they head to Tunisia where Marissa is drugged and captured. She is forced to accept a new identity as Sara whose body is only good for desecration, exploitation and abuse. 

Back Towards Light takes a look into the dark world of human trafficking while telling the story of a survivor bringing her life back together. Marissa believes that one can find a way back into light after a traumatic experience, if only one doesn’t hold onto the anger and resentment. 

The genre is dramatized documentary film, which means that the film is influenced by both documentary and fiction narrative style. The interviews heard in the film are authentic and the situations described in the interviews have been dramatized in scenes interpreted by actors. 

Apart from Marissa, a number of people connected to the events are interviewed. The interviewees include Marissa’s former boyfriend Risto, Detective Superintendent Mika Tauru, Embassy official Päivi Akkanen-Kouki and safe house employee Pentti Petroff. 

The actors performing the dramatized scenes are Stella Kylä-Liuhala, Kiumars Zarei, Henri Tuominen, Nora Löfving-Lihtonen, Kerli Kyllönen and Pihla Maalismaa. 

Back Towards Light was shot in Finland and Tunisia. In Tunisia the filming was carried out in collaboration with the local production company Sindbad Productions 

Written and Directed by: Arto Halonen

Cinematography: Joonas Pulkkanen, Mika Orasmaa F.S.C.

Second Unit Camera: Ari Virem

Editing: Otto Heikola

Music and sound design: Kirka Sainio

Featuring: Marissa Jaakola, Stella Kylä-Liuhala, Kiumars Zarei, Nora Löfving-Lihtonen, Henri Tuominen, Kerli Kyllönen and Pihla Maalismaa

Producers: Arto Halonen and Timo T. Lahtinen

Production: Art Films production and Smile Entertainment