Canned Dreams

The journey of a can of ravioli across Europe, reflecting the dreams and destinies of all who play a role in it.

Filmmaker: Katja Gauriloff

This film follows the journey of the ingredients which make up a can of ravioli and the dreams and destinies of the workers who contribute towards the making of these ingredients.

The film features seven ingredients, seven main characters and seven strong stories from seven countries.

The can represents the absurdity of food production, as well as the diversity of European culture, as the film goes on to tell a universal story.


By Katja Gauriloff

Canned Dreams is a dream-like, almost nightmarish, documentary which gives an insight into the different phases of production that goes into making a can of ravioli.

The can’s journey begins in one of the biggest open-pit mines in Brazil and ends on the shelves of a grocery store in Finland, after travelling 30,000km.

The idea for the film came after studying the ingredients of a popular brand of cheap, ready-made ravioli and being surprised by the large number of ingredients this one particular can contained. We started researching where all these ingredients came from and compiled a list of countries which contributed to its production.

Despite the film focusing on one specific brand of ravioli, Canned Dreams is a symbolic film and could be about any globally manufactured product. The truth behind food production is far more amazing and brutal than the film.

My main inspiration for this film came from when I had a summer job at a sausage factory in the early 1990’s. I was 18 years old and had travelled from Lapland to Helsinki in search of work.

The job, packing sausages on a conveyor belt, was both physically demanding and monotonous.

It was the first and only time I have ever worked in a factory. I remember there was a break of seven or 10 minutes every hour, which was just enough time to run into the break room for a coffee. Sitting in the room with other factory women – some of whom had worked there for 30 years – while they had a quick smoke, were the best moments in the day.

I did not always understand what they said in their old Helsinki slang, but some of their stories were moving, funny and sometimes very racy. I sat there quietly, listening and taking in their life experiences, dreams and hopes. My own dreams lay far away from the dark world of the gloomy factory.

It was my own experiences at the sausage factory which made me want to focus on the people behind the chain of production. I wanted to know whose hands picked the tomatoes, what went on in the head of a pig butcher, and what the hopes and dreams were of someone toiling away in a tin mine. All these people found their way into my film.

It took us four years to make this film. We did plenty of travelling, experienced new cultures and met new people.

The most valuable aspect of making the film was meeting the people. The desire to share their stories was strongest among those who had probably never been asked before. I did not find the differences in our language and culture to be a hindrance – we were just two similar people sharing their emotions and lives.

The dreams in our hearts are important, because they sustain us. Indeed the hope of a brighter future lives in our dreams.