Arctic Circle Lovers Find Lappland’s Romance
Several foreign films have been made in Finland, the majority of which have emphasized the cold, bare, melancholy side of the country. Domestic filmmakers are no exception.
Spanish filmmaker Julio Medem’s latest film, Arctic Circle Lovers, takes a refreshing new approach: Finland as the light, exotic, dreamy, peaceful place. Medem does more for Finnish tourism with this film than years of Santa Claus marketing.
The story begins in Spain, where Ana and Otto, played by the Spanish actors Najwa Nimri and Fele Martinez, become stepsister and brother at the age of eight. Their lives became intertwined. As adults they grow apart; Ana becomes a substitute teacher and Otto is a pilot. Towards the end of the film, they meet again after several years in Finland.
For Ana and Otto, Finland is a magical place, a paradise that entices them both. As in his previous films, Medem uses the Lapland milieu not so much as a backdrop, but as an indication of the feelings of his film’s heroes. Their passion unfolds in the sun-filled days and nights of Lapland, one of what Medem makes out to be the world’s last frontiers.
Arctic Circle Lovers was filmed in Finnish Lapland late in the summer of 1998. Several Finnish actors play supporting roles, Outi Alanen included. The film opens in Helsinki on March 10.
Pornstar or a Feminist?
Even our Postmodern times need heroes, fortunately there is Grace Quek, alias Annabel Chong, cult figure of last year’s Cannes film festival and holder of a world record.
What is her record-breaking feat? In January 1995, Quek had sexual intercourse with 70 different men 251 times in ten hours. The event was recorded on video, which hit the market as The World’s Biggest Gangbang.
But that’s not all. After seeing the gang bang video, Canadian film director Gough Lewis decided to make a documentary film about Quek’s life entitled Sex: The Annabel Chong Story. The film, and Quek herself, were big hits at both the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals, and popular magazines found the documentary ”provocative” and ”psychological”.
One could argue that the sensationalist subject matter and the possibility of seeing porn were enough to gain the film notoriety, but it was Quek herself that made it a hit. Attractive, smart and comfortable with the media, Quek explained that the film was a feminist assertion on behalf of a woman who loves sex.
”It was supposed to be a satire, an overexaggaration. The point was to do a parody on the stereotypical stud that fucks everything that moves,” she explained.
Jill Nelson responded to Quek’s feminist claim in Ms. Magazine. ”At its core, the film is yet another attempt to capitalize on the racist, sexist and worn-out fantasy that Asian women are subordinate sex slaves.”
A closer look shows that Quek is not looking out for herself, at any rate. She was never paid her promised $10 000 for the porn video and none of the men that volunteered to have sex with Quek were asked to show that they were HIV-negative. Not all of them wore condoms. That’s bad, even for the porn industry.
But, if her intent was to make a laughing stock out of the porn industry, then you can be sure that it is laughing all the way to the bank.Seems her idea has caught on like wildfire. Jasmin St. Claire had 300 consecutive lovers, shortly after Quek and the current record holder is a platinum blonde named Houston, with 620.
Cadet School Etiquette In Finland
Finnish men are required to serve minimum six and up to 12 more months of military service before they turn thirty. Some elect to do a 13 months of civil service, but most choose to enter the military service immediately after high school.
After completion of their mandatory year, some young officers elect to continue a military career. They apply to the Finnish Defense College, and if accepted, they begin four years of study at the Cadet School.
Over the last decade the Defense College has accepted one out of every three applicants, making for incoming classes of about one hundred. Subjects include languages, military technology, military history, security policy, administrative behavior and pedagogy. Cadets can also choose membership in a choir, shooting range, sports team or student council.
Graduates receive the rank of Lieutenant, with a starting salary of 9 316 FIM a month or approx. $21 000 annually.
It is a Friday in February at the island of Santahamina, just off the Helsinki coastline. The Finnish Defense College breaks class for lunch. This event, as any at the Cadet School, must honor the three rules of the school: cadet education, discipline and etiquette.
The traditions of the Cadet School at the Finnish Defense University date back to the 1700s. The first-year cadets are led into the lunch hall in an orderly fashion by the second-year veterans. The cadets are called to fill the tables, one at a time. Cadet Moberg has one too many at his table:
”Can’t Moberg count? Not going well, Moberg!” yell the second year cadets.After every cadet has food, they are not allowed to sit until the senior officers at the table allow them. First year students are also required to introduce themselves. ”I am Cadet Ristimäki, sir, served in the tank brigade. I am originally from Tampere.” If lunch is soup, the bowl is tipped away from the cadet, to avoid any spills. If there are potatoes, special care is taken to not get anything on one’s fingers as the skin is peeled. Licking fingers is an offense.
Time was when a cadet was held responsible if his date were to pass gas. Perhaps the etiquette code has relaxed on this point, since women were admitted to study four years ago.
Tom Malmström is a 22 year old second year cadet from Helsinki. ”Our job is to watch the first-year cadets continuously. The idea is to teach them good manners automatically. Next fall they will teach the new cadets,” he explains.
After hearing that he had not been accepted to the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration, Malmström applied to the Cadet School. He had done well during his year in the army.
Each morning new students are awoken at 6 a.m. by trumpet music. After exercise, the day is full of class work and odd jobs. It took some time before Malmström could appreciate the trumpet music in the morning, particularly during the three-month ”hazing” period that all new cadets are subjected to. ”I can’t tell what happens then, I have a responsibility to the group,” he says. ”It is very punishing, that much I can say.” He describes the initiation as character building.
by Pamela Kaskinen