He was born, grew up and went to school in Helsinki. He started doing photography at 12 years of age, later being appointed as the school photographer for all the classes of Apollon yhteiskoulu, when he started senior school there. He took his degree in chemical engineering. He went on with his photography, starting to make 8 mm films in Montaasi, the cinema club of the technology students. Jarva worked as the main editor of the magazine Engineering Student. His short film made in cooperation with the Student Theatre, won a government film prize. His career spanned a period of transition in Finnish film history, when the old studio system was about to end, and when the policy of government subsidies had not yet established itself. Jarva made his films as an independent producer-director. He started as a reformer, went on as a social critic and, with his three last films, ended up as the favourite of the cinema theatre audience.His first long film of a play Night or day was created for the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the student association of Jarva’s university, The film company Filminor was founded for the purpose, Later on Filminor became the producer of all Jarva’s films. His first independently directed film was an expression of the aesthetic radicalism of the « new waves » of the 1960s, anticipating social radicalism. Jarva’s next film was a radical breakthrough in Finnish film. He was professor of film 1970 – 75, chairman of the film policy committee 1970 -74, and senior teacher of film and TV in the University of Art and Design in Helsinki 1975 – 77. He died in 1977.