The most (in)famous Finnish UFO
and paranormal phenomena enthusiast
. Also an actor, a TV director
plus a self-declared public relations
worker between mankind
During his early childhood in Joroinen, Heikki Juhan Grann, who later on dropped his first name and added the af prefix his ancestors had used, developed a strong passion for acting. At the age of 8 he ran away from home to join a travelling actors' group. Later on he became one of the top child actors in Finland, starring in over 30 major roles and being highly praised by many reviewers.
But as Grann neared adulthood, professional acting gave way for other interests. Most likely due to influence of his father, a career militarist and a Winter War veteran, he volunteered for military service at the age of 17. After serving in Kajaani and Ylämylly, he moved to Germany to study in the Goethe-Institute among other schools. He also worked as a designer in the advertising department of the Karlstad AG supermarket chain, and also as a correspondant for some Finnish newspapers.
Grann rejected a job offer from Canada and moved to Poland in 1969 on a scholarship. While studying French, he worked as an assistant in Poland's National Film School and was involved with many movie productions. After he was given a 24 hour notice to leave the country, Juhan spent some time living in Hungary, Germany and United Kingdom before returning to his homeland in 1970.
Armed with a Dracula-style black silk cape and red jockey pants, Grann started looking for work in the Finnish TV and Movie industry. Despite his portfolio, he was rejected by all the companies he applied to, including Suomi-Filmi, Yle and MTV*. This made our man more than a little infuriated, resulting in him publicly trashing everybody in the field. Instead of having all his chances of getting a job in Finnish TV destroyed, Grann was hired by MTV to cut and edit a documentary on World War II entitled Kun Maailma Paloi ("When the World Burned Down"). His use of graphics in a television production was something not often seen before in the country. In 1974 Grann received a grant from Finland's national culture fund, allowing him to travel to Yorkshire to produce and direct the TV-movie Dales of Yorkshire.
In 1975 the newcomer Grann was chosen over many veteran directors to make a television document of Finland's president U.K. Kekkonen, who was nearing his 75th birthday. During the shooting Grann got into a bitter feud with the producers, whose vision for the program was something completely different than the hothead director's. This resulted in him walking off the project, only to be called back due to a request from Kekkonen himself. Luova Valtiomies - Urho Kekkonen ("The Creative Statesman") was eventually released and sold to 7 countries.
Grann continued his work on television, directing dozens of documentaries and advertisements. The subjects of his programs varied greatly: Luonnonluomaa (Cry of the Earth) dealt with human's relationship with nature, while an episode of his controversial TV-series Reportteri ("Reporter") criticized the Finnish prison system heavily. Not surprisingly, the latter kind of productions quickly got the openly confrontational director - who was keen to express his disgust for Finnish media bluntly and frequently - in trouble with his employers, the law and the public. After refusing to air his most non-PC programs, MTV finally sacked him in spring 1983.
But Juhan had already founded his own production company, Grann Production. He also attempted to form a new cable TV channel, but the project was left behind as he failed to get any advertisers to fund it.
Ever since the mid-70s, Grann had often attempted to convince his bosses to let him make a documentary dealing with UFOs and other paranormal phenomena, something which had fascinated him since his early childhood. In February 1992, the TV-movie Vieraita Taivaalta (Visitors from the Sky) was shown on MTV3. It was later released for the home video markets in North America and western Europe, and ended up earning Grann his first EBE award in the International UFO Congress conference held in Nevada. Back in Finland, Vieraita Taivaalta received very high ratings and even some critical acclaim.
Grann immediately started work on a sequel to his largest success yet. A 5-part television series Ufot ja Paranormaalit Ilmiöt (UFOs and Paranormal Phenomena) was released in spring 1995, expanding the scope towards parapsychology. While Grann received 4 of the 8 EBE awards given that year, the Finnish media wasn't expressing any interest anymore.
After getting the cold shoulder from his country and meanwhile having some international success, it was only logical for Grann to aim the third part of his series directly towards the foreign markets. The New Apocalypse - Mandind`s Last Exodus, a three-part series dealing with the future of human, continued the previous works' tradition with dozens of interviews of (supposed) international experts and inside sources. Grann himself appeared in the series as a silent Jesus-like figure. The fourth installment in the epic E.T. saga, Intruders, promises inside information dealing with JFK and aliens - complete with a related assasination theory - among other things.
Needless to say, that by the time his third edition of alien revelations had hit the TV screens, Juhan af Grann had already become the punchline of every UFO-joke you'd hear in Finland. Both the mainstream media and the general public nowadays dismiss Grann as a nut, albeit a harmless and amusing one. Not holding back his bitterness against the Finnish media figures, the white-haired director himself accounts this for pure stupidity of a nation of rednecks.
Grann's philosophy, not to mention his visions considering extraterrestrial intelligence and the future of our species would easily fill up a node of its own. He is a believer in pseudoscience (in his own words), gnosticism and "healthy narcissism". According to Grann the human race is on a brink of extinction, and the far more advanced aliens - who naturally live among us - may be the key for some of us evolving further and preventing our destruction. He claims to communicate with extraterrestrials on a regular basis, and states that he has been chosen by the visitors to speed up the mental evolution of mankind. Instead of being the plain old Heikki Juhan, Grann often refers to himself as "The JAG", which seems to be his second personality which channels the aliens' messages. Naturally, a lot of JAG merchandise is available through his home page.
Juhan af Grann joined freemasonry in 1981. He also has an interest in flamboyant clothing, and has been known to collect pimp-style hats. Furthermore, he has also been into painting since his youth. Grann's interviews rarely feature much on his private life, as being mystical is an intrigual part of his image.
freely translated by yours truly
"Should I drive a truck full of shit to the Senaatintori, people wouldn't believe it's shit because it was Grann who delivered it."
"The Finnish media is 50 years behind its time. It fails to see how the people are feeling bad, and only works towards the interests of the diminishing ruling class. The media drags behind, the conversation is neither speculative nor pre-emptive."
"They can take over this planet whenever they want."
"I have been called a fag since my youth, although I indeed am heterosexual. I've got a neutral relationship with these kinds of things. I don't care what people speak. Real love has died from this world, I am liberal."
* Not Music Television but Mainostelevisio, the first commercial Finnish TV broadcasting company.
Not a cut'n'paste writeup.
And no, I am not an UFO enthusiast myself.
Thanks to Card and Heyoka for corrections.