Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The dream of an united Italy

The third day of DocPoint offered something I’d never expected. The documentary “Suddenly, Last Winter” (http://www.suddenlylastwinter.com/) told a never before told story about two Italians; Luca and Gustav.

What made this story so unique that it had never been told before in Italy? Of course the fact that Luca and Gustav were and are an item. It was amazing enough to see the movie, but like an extra edge to the documentary was the surprise the event offered us viewers. Truly unexpected, we found Luca and Gustav, the makers of the documentary, among us in the audience. Later on, after the screening, I felt like I’d met big time movie stars. Such a thrilling feeling. They did it perfectly, running up to the stage and staying with us to talk about the documentary. And that is something that is sure.

This documentary will awaken discussion wherever it is being showed. No need to add that I loved it. So what made it so special? In the end, this was just another story about the life of two persons. But what makes this documentary so special and furthermore important, is the theme that in other countries has been discussed more or less, but in Italy has remained untouched by cinema. Even Luca and Gustav had to say after the screening that they are now the first famous gay couple in whole Italy. That sounds incredible, coming from a country where the taboo has become something ordinary already years ago. After seen the movie, I felt like doing a test. Since I know so many Italians, I wanted to know what they felt about this documentary.

This documentary that is circulating now in Europe, will come out on DVD soon, and arises appreciation wherever it is been showed. Funnily enough, the Italian comments were usually “this is a theme that doesn’t concern me”. I thought that was ironic, since I just came back from seeing an Italian documentary and heard the makers say that they fought to realize the production since it’s a topic that no movie maker in Italy would touch. How could this theme then not concern an Italian, if we are talking about a phenomenon present in the Italian society? I thought it was important to test this also among Finnish guys. Do they think in the same way? I must say that I was surprised to see so many Finnish guys at the screening, but unfortunately that does not represent the average Finns, because I got similar answers also from Finnish guys.  

“The topic is not of my interest”. “I have nothing against it, but that doesn’t mean that I want to see it”.

I guess not everybody has dealt with this matter yet. Some prefer to just shuffle it under the rug and I guess hope that it will disappear. But I think history has proven it several times that this is not the kind of matter you can choose to see or not. It exists; therefore we need to understand it.

The documentary is made in the best possible way; by having an insight in this couple’s life and following them around as they fight against the prejudices in Italy. Luca & Gustav themselves explained that they had lived in a certain kind of bubble their whole life since none of their family members or friends had any problems with their sexuality. Therefore they had just assumed that the common way of thinking about homosexuality was positive in Italy. Way were they wrong.

The comments you hear in their documentary are shocking. Shocking how anybody can still believe such things, in year 2009. Some opinions really haven’t changed in 20-30 years. The funny part is that most of the people saying silly things were young, so these opinions weren’t even theirs but somebody else’s. Probably their parents. Luca & Gustav mentioned the effect of the TV, and I must admit that I was astonished by the quantity of TV Italians watch per day. I believe the average hours of watching TV per day is three when it comes to Finland. I remember reading during my exchange period in Italy that the same number for Italy is six! Six hours per day! That means that if an average person sleeps eight hours, she/he is awake 16 hours of which he/she watches TV for six! That’s almost half the time awake. Incredible. So I definitely think that Luca & Gustav have a point there.

The power of the TV is strong in Italy. Nevertheless the quality of the shows ran in Italy is below average. I remember not being able to watch it more than 10 minutes, hehe. Well my issues had mostly to do with the women on it, but still. If something, like in Luca’s and Gustav’s case homosexuality, is put in a bad light on Italian TV, this will form people’s opinions. The media is a deceiving force. Especially for those who do not have a personal connection to homosexuality. Without going too deep into this subject, about which I can speak for hours, I want to finish by saying that I think it is a pity that in a country as big as Italy, there is not room for alternative thinking. Somehow people feel that they have the right to judge others and decide whether or not they should have children, get married and so on. It’s a shame. As a nation, Italy has so much potential, but it continues to be contradicting and neglecting. Maybe one day we can realize the dream of an Italy for all, not just the ones that represent the mainstream.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Widening my view of life

Second day of “Italy for beginners”. “How I am” & “Crossing the Line”. Two touching subjects; autism and homeless people. The crowd filled once again the art museum Ateneum where the documentaries were shown tonight. First we got to see the remarkable story of Patrick, an autistic boy. It was beautifully made with sentences portraying the thoughts and inner feelings of Patrick. The one that hit me the most was  

“The colors of life are more beautiful when they are strong. They color up the world.

I like strong colors as well as strong personalities so the sentence remained in my thoughts. The documentary showed another truth; when a person lives a very simple and almost primitive life, that person begins to realize the truths in life. Despite Patrick’s young age, he made many observations that would amaze a person of any age.

“Crossing the Line” didn’t manage to affect me as much as “How I am”, but it told of the harsh truth, the reality of some Italians. Seeing an elderly man live by constantly taking trains would make anybody sad. Of course, Italy is a uniquely diverse country and by travelling there by train, from the far north to the deep south, you see and experience great things. Nevertheless, the reality this man was living was unbearable. I’ve never know or heard of anything similar. Once again I can feel thankful about living in Finland although that is a very egoistic way of approaching the subject. We should face these inconvenient truths, and that's why I'm so happy about seeing these documentaries. They widen my view of life.

A cultural highlight in Helsinki

Today was the opening day for the” Italy for beginners” part of the documentary film festival going on right now in Helsinki. This year this event, called DocPoint (www.docpoint.info/2009_italia_aloittelijoille), has concentrated on documentary films from Italy and India and of course, I am fascinated with the Italian ones. There is no need to say that I made sure that I could see as many as possible of these Italian treats. My plans are not to see six of them.

I was greatly surprised when I went to the small movie theater called Maxim to see the first one today, and found the room where the movie was shown almost full. Way to go Helsinki! There is a clear demand for foreign movies and everything concerning Italy gains a certain amount of attention.
I was glad to see that there was an opening speech and some Italians directors present. While I sat in the movie theater with I, who kindly joined me to watch the movie called Pinuccio Lovero – a Midsummer Death’s Dream (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNsv0XSLLKQ), I heard so much Italian in the room that I felt like being in Italy.

I’ve also heard that I need to thank the Dante Alighieri society (Società Dante Alighieri – http://www.dante.fi/) , which strives to improve artist- and event co-operation and swaps between Finland and Italy, for making it possible to organize the Italian part of DocPoint. After all, events like this ask for a lot of organizing and networking. So I give out a thank you to this wonderful society that has helped create an image of Finland mainly among Italian artists and made Finland attractive in their eyes. They have also been kind enough to help me with my thesis. That is just how passionate they are about Italy. True kindness and passion.

I’m looking forward to seeing the other five documentaries. Pinuccio Lovero gave a realistic view of the life of Bitonto, South Italy close to Bari, and it was a funny short movie. Life might be simple but everybody has a passion or inner drive. I dream of going to south of Italy and seeing the cozy and familiar reality shown in this documentary. Everybody should strive to find a work that realizes one’s interest. For me that symbolizes a truly rich life.

Priceless

I’m surrounded by great men. The fact that most of my very best friends that are boys are former boyfriends of mine doesn’t change that fact. I think it actually brings an additional value to the relation we have. I know we have all loved each other and still have the deepest affection and respect towards each other. We have shared time and grown together. Each man in my life stands for a period of time, and I share common interests with each one of them, like shopping, cooking and watching movies. But above all of this, I cherish these men because they teach me so much. When I am faced with problems, they always have the wisest advice to give me. They know me well and they know how to help and guide me. I am very thankful for their insightful thoughts and the great bond I share with them. After all, I have to thank these men for a lot of things. I owe them a lot. There are some things money can't buy.
Friday, January 16, 2009

The work of my hands




Some of my creations...made by hand with pencils. With true effection to special persons during my life so far..

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The rift between studies

Today I had a lecture in methodology. I attend this course because I have started to write on my dissertation, or actually my thesis. The course is planned to help us choose the way we perform the research needed for the paper.

Today we were focusing on making interviews in order to gain information for researches. The task was to perform an interview on a focus group. The participants for this course study both tourism, as I do, and then we also have some students, about half of the class, that study economics, more specifically management accounting.

Well, the point of today’s exercise was to divide the class in two groups; one being the leader of the interview while the other part would answer the interview questions and therefore be the respondents. The interesting fact was that as we tourism students prepared the questions to be asked, we assumed certain things. And seeing as we all have the same background, let’s say in an academic way, we think at least in a similar way.

What we realized during the interview was actually that these assumptions were made because of our studies. The management accounters thought very differently about the questions we asked them. The topic of the interview was to understand on what ground persons choose the restaurants they go to. The interesting part was that we tourism students thought about a lot of factors that could affect this decision. Factors like company, price, location, atmosphere, popularity, trends etc. The management accounters immediately thought about a business meeting when talking about restaurants. They actually made it sound like they never go to restaurants as a leisure activity, but merely as a part of business life. When asked about the relation between price and quality, they answered that they associate a high price to small portions.

What?? We were amazed by this. How differently people can think about things. Once again I was happy about what I study. Sometimes I take for granted the knowledge I have about customer behavior, hotels, tourists, restaurants, travel agencies and so on. It’s easy for me to assume that everybody knows these things. That everybody has a common interest in these things. But today we proved otherwise.

When the respondents didn’t say much during the interview, our lecturer asked the management accounters what they would have wanted to talk about and they actually answered that it would have been better if the topic would have been management accounting! Can you believe it? How small can one’s world be? I’m grateful for studying something as wide as tourism; we at least have an opinion about almost everything. I think it is suitable today, as the biggest tourism fair in the Nordic countries begins tomorrow here in Helsinki, to appreciate the field I’m studying and encourage everybody to get acquainted with tourism.

On a night like New Year's Eve

Although I felt very strongly that I had to write something about Twilight, since it stirred up such a great conversation, I feel I have to mention something about New Year’s Eve.

Despite the fact that I spent last New Year’s Eve in Sweden, we have a tradition among my best friends to gather around big celebrations at one of our homes in Espoo, just outside Helsinki. It’s a relaxed and tranquil place, and we have more space there because my friend happens to live in a house, not just an apartment like the rest of us living downtown.

Anyway, I must say that this New Year’s Eve was carried out exceptionally well. I enjoyed the whole evening. We started out in Espoo but came to the center around eleven to pick up an important member of our group, my best friend M that is. She was working until that, and therefore couldn’t join us in the woods.

Once picked up M, we headed for the Senate square, Helsinki’s main square actually. This year the city of Helsinki had actually made an effort for New Year’s and had put up a concert in honor of the celebration. At twelve we stood there on the crowded square counting down until midnight. With some Gancia Asti in our champagne glasses, we immediately took ourselves to the South Harbor of Helsinki and watched the fireworks. Even though these fireworks cannot be compared to the ones we have here in Helsinki during the annual national championships in August, there were great. What a wonderful celebration with my best friends. Love them.

The night continued dancing in Opera, a nightclub specialized on R&B music. We actually found some brothers that showed us the time of our lives. We literally danced for three or four hours. It was a blast. Things like that seldom happen here in Finland. We want to make people and maybe ourselves believe that prejudices do not exist, that Finns are open minded. But in reality that is not the case. But I must say that I usually here comments I don’t approve from people coming from other cities than Helsinki. I want to believe that here we are more open for different cultures, and cultural backgrounds. Well, at least that night, those five guys found the right girls to dance with because me and my best friends, we do not have these stereotypical images in our mind. We love getting to know all types of people. And I especially love seeing that Helsinki is growing more international.

Just recently, I heard that during the last four years or so, the amount of working force in Finland with a different cultural background has increased by 18 000 young people. The majority of this in Helsinki. That is why I love this city. We have great potential. I don’t see Helsinki as a city competing with other places/cities in Finland, because as a city Helsinki is so much bigger than the rest of Finland’s cities. I see Helsinki competing with other European capitals. Those are our rightful competitors. Therefore this internalization is needed, because we still have a long way to go before we truly reach the status of the other European capitals.

But on a night like this, like on New Year ’s Eve, I was amazed about the fact that it is possible for three girls to find five guys that would dance for hours with them, without any hidden agendas. And even more than that, they saw how we behave while dancing and kind of started to act in the same way. Hold on, I need to explain this. When I and the twins go out, we act like all Finnish girls act in clubs. We stand up for ourselves and we are not afraid to tell if somebody is stepping on our toes, acting in an improper way that is. We dance, but we also look after ourselves. Girls need space and all that. Because we live in a culture where drinking is quite a normal part of our nightlife, especially girls tend to pump into each other on the dance floor.

Therefore it is one’s own duty to secure some space for oneself while dancing. And the funny part was that these guys dancing with us and seeing how we keep our space started to act alike us. And later even protect our space because we were dancing with them. We felt like we were in the hood, hehe. Protected and safe. And other people in the club started to naturally give us some more space. Ironic how space can be an issue on a dance floor in a club. So thanks brothers for showing us a good time. Let’s meet up again for some serious dancing.
Friday, January 9, 2009

When daylight disappears...

Twilight. The movie after which everybody questions their boyfriends. I went to the cinemas to see it actually by chance, because it was my sister’s idea that she and her friends would go and see it and I just tagged along. But I must say that I loved the story. Of course we’re talking about a teenage movie but for being just that, it was surprisingly well done. It actually had a story. I ended up in a coffee shop with my sis and two of her friends afterwards and we analyzed the movie thoroughly.

In this movie we get to follow a boy that from what I could see, acted like every girl’s dream. He was mysterious in the beginning, and then through the whole movie he just said all the right things, like  
“I just feel naturally protective of you”

, a sentence that would kill any girl just because it’s so nice to hear it. Or how about  

“Where did you think I would go? You’re my life now”.

Not to even mention how he looks. I left the movie theater actually shaken. Shaken by seeing something that all girls long for. We started talking about the fact that movies like this can actually make girls feel bad about their boyfriends. Isn’t that silly?! But movie characters like this make it seem that you can have it all in one package, when in reality you would need at least five boys to cover all the issues that Edward does it this movie.

Movies give us girls insane expectations concerning boys. In this movie, which I still love and recommend everybody to see, the movie makers make us believe that boys like this really exist. The reality is harsh after that, since boys like this can’t be found. Instead for girls, the movie didn’t really put up any expectations. The girls got to be average girls. Not overly pretty or well dressed or anything. I found myself laughing when one of the girls with which I was chatting told me that she realized a long time ago that her boyfriend can’t be everything she needs. So she goes to him for some matters, whereas for other things she turns to her friends.

I think I am still of the young age when you want to believe the illusions constructed by these movies. I want to believe that one guy want to have all of me, not just parts of me. Having the discussion in the coffee shop made me understand that maybe it’s time for me to actually grow up and stop having such huge expectations. But it is kind of like letting oneself down. Why should I settle for less than I want? The other option is to not settle for less, and demand what I want or then nothing. I see my friends and their boyfriends. They don’t have these superhero boyfriends that you see in movies. They have ordinary guys as boyfriends. This makes me believe that maybe I am on the wrong side on this one.

So I decided to grow up about this matter. But in the back of my mind I will still have this thought and every time I see a movie like Twilight, I will bring it out, hihi.