Project Description


Maria (Iida-Maria Heinonen), a doctoral researcher in international politics, participates in a conference organised by her own university and notices that she is being treated differently than her male colleague. As she is listening to a discussion panel of famous researchers, Maria realises that not even age and merit are enough to protect female researchers from being overlooked. Let Her Speak is directed by Ulla Heikkilä and written by Saara Särmä and Ulla Heikkilä, and it is part of the film anthology Force of Habit.

Directed by: Ulla Heikkilä
Screenplay by: Saara Särmä ja Ulla Heikkilä
Produced by: Elli Toivoniemi, Tuffi Films
Co-produced by: Farima Karimi & Siri Hjorton Wagner, [sic] film
Cinematography by: Shazi Özdemir
Production design by: Ulla Heikkilä & Maria Sekirkina
Costume design by: Roosa Marttiini
Make-up design by: Kaisu Hölttä
Editing by: Tuuli Alanärä
Sound design by: Lotta Mäki
Original score by: Sibille Attar


Maria: Iida-Maria Heinonen
Antti: Pyry Nikkilä
Hannu: Juha Kukkonen
Eero: Eero Milonoff
Moderaattori: Robert Enckell
Carolina: Cecilia Nilsson
Erik Richardson: Per Graffman

Country of production: Finland, Sweden
Duration: 13:22
Domestic content rating: S (for all ages)

Let Her Speak depicts how everyday sexism functions in academic spaces, how questioning, silencing and ignoring makes women’s expertise invisible. I got inspiration from a real life event where a woman stood up in the audience and yelled “Let her speak!” when a moderator man was talking over and mansplaining her theories to a famous woman physicist.

All the scenes in the movie draw from events that have happened either to me or my colleagues. Whenever a group of academic women start sharing their experiences of everyday sexism there’s no end to the stories. Let Her Speak is a small example of these one-off incidents, which tend to pile up and become exhausting and as a result many talented women switch from one academic field to another, or leave academia altogether. The world changes when we change it, and it is only by first making everyday sexism visible that we can start changing the world for in this regard.

Saara Särmä, screenwriter

When I was asked to direct “Let Her Speak!,” a short film written by Saara Särmä, I was immediately excited. This series is a great project and it’s an honor to be part of it.

For a long time, I thought that everyday sexism and misogyny are things that really don’t touch me. That maybe I’m too young, part of a more fortunate generation, the daughter of a feminist father and a child of the girl power era. After having been in working life for about two minutes, I had to admit that I had been wrong. They do touch me. The world might’ve changed for the better, but it’s not finished yet.
In connection with this film, I would like people to discuss how women are ignored as experts and in work life in general. How could each of us prevent the formation of male-only clubs in our own lives? And how could we learn to recognise and object to “mansplaining” in all its forms, no matter how subtle or complex they may be?

Ulla Heikkilä, director-writer

What do you see differently after having seen the film? Share your insights!



The discussion material created by the Yksittäistapaus campaign and the Timeout Foundation help you have constructive dialogue about the film and to see things from a new perspective. The discussion material is especially designed to support dialogue in school lessons.

You can lead the discussion by showing the guidelines and discussion questions to the participants directly through the slide show below. You can download and print the more extensive guidelines with additional support for the leader of the discussion as a PDF file.