Brief in English


Cleaning Out The Student Apartments

During the holiday break in 1999, the Helsinki Area Student Housing Foundation (Hoas) sent out questionnaires to five thousand of its student tenants. About 15 000 students live in the over 8 000 Hoas apartments in and around Helsinki. The Hoas questionnaire went out to every tenant that had lived in a Hoas apartment longer than seven months. The mailing asked Hoas students to report their academic status and return it to Hoas.
    What they didn’t say on the questionnaire was that Hoas requires its tenants to be full-time students, defined by as a student earning at least 15 study credits a year. There is also no mention of the credit-based definition in the Hoas rental agreement.
    As a result of the survey, hundreds of unsuspecting students that participated in the questionnaire are soon to be evicted because they don’t meet the study credit requirement, freeing over 600 Hoas apartments for other students’ use next fall.
    Finland’s University of Technology is located to the west of Helsinki in Otaniemi. About a tenth of the 1 700 Hoas students in Otaniemi there received questionnaires. One in ten of them were sent notices of eviction. Some were able to explain their slow progress in school and cancel their eviction. Some were caught red-handed: examples include a technology student that had started studies in 1986 and had only 10 credits, and several who hadn’t left Hoas upon graduation. The legal implications of these evictions and the required disclosure of private student records are under investigation.

Weaning Out A Finnish Director

1999 was a good year for Lotta Kupiainen. The young Finnish film director won awards at three different film festivals in Europe last year, not bad for a 23-year-old with just one five minute film to her name.
    Her fictional directorial and editing debut, entitled Demokratia. Vitamiinit. Oppositio (Democracy. Vitamins. Opposition.), won an award from the 1999 Tampere Film Festival and a first film award in the Brest Film Festival. It went on to be named the best European film of year in the 1999 Bologna Film Festival in Spain.
    Kupiainen is quick to add that her film didn’t win any awards in Munich or Helsinki Film Festivals and that her film also benefited from the input of several of her more experienced colleagues, who worked together on the production team. ”I would add that most of us were women, which is odd in such a male-dominated field like directing,” she says with a smile.She has studied directing at the University of Industrial Design for three years. Her modesty once again moves her to say that all of the up-and-coming students of directing are doing great work and that the future looks bright for Finnish film.
    ”The old-fashioned story is making a comeback. Movies should open things up for the viewer,” says Kupiainen.
    Democracy. Vitamins. Opposition. is a short film about an older couple and their life with dementia. The lead male, played brilliantly by Leif Wager, holds the teaspoon of sugar in his hand, wondering why he has it. His wife, played by Tiina Rinne, gently takes her husband’s hand and helps him pour the sugar into his waiting cup of tea.
    The film uses its dialogue carefully. Later, as the protagonist prepares to go to sleep, he looks at his wife and asks, ”Who are you?” After some convincing from his wife, he gets into bed, but not before his eyes give away his glee at the prospect of bedding a stranger.

Laying Out the Anorexic Angst

There are lots of women out there that are so beautiful that they make themselves sick. They hide their food behind radiators, swallow laxatives and stay moving. Some start as vegetarians, leave out milk products, become vegans, leave out everything considered ’living’, and end with nothing to eat: Anorexia. For others, life is a series of binges: comfort foods, panic foods, night food, buffets, take-out pizza, food ads, bites, nibbles and gorging, all followed by vomiting: Bulimia.
    Laura Hakala’s
new book, Siskonmakkarat, talks about how it feels to live with an eating disorder. Eleven women with anorexia or bulimia wrote about their feelings on different subjects over a year span. 24-year-old Hakala is an anorectic herself and compiled the book to end stereotypes about eating disorders and help victims and their parents.
    Three others writing for the book study at the University of Helsinki. Jenni Willanen, 22, studies Nordic languages, Tanja Tuulinen, 24, studies environmental science, and Hanna Nauska, 21, is a student of aesthetics. Each has suffered from a severe case of anorexia and is still ’potentially ill’.
    Tanja laughs, ”I caught myself thinking before our first meeting that because I am healthy now, I might be the biggest woman there.”
    For some the illness leaves lasting marks. Hormonal functions can sometimes be stunted to that of a five-year-old, meaning no interest or time for love. A soft, lanuga hair grows on the face, hair falls out and knees aren’t strong enough for walking. Menstrual cycles stop and intercourse hurts.
    Siskonmakkarat focuses on the feelings of the women. They range from passivity to martyrdom, cleanliness to polluted. ”My strongest feeling is one of frustration. I am tired of not getting better. I have tried to do it so many times, to help myself and get help, but then I give in again,” says Jenni. Tanja continues, ”One of us wrote that it is good to be cold on a warm summer day. I am thin if I get cold this easily.”

Bringing Out the Dead

Martin Scorsese became a world famous director in the 70s in his films thatdescribed New York street life. Scorsese has lived in the Big Apple for allof his 57 years and his best films are about the city he knows best.Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980) showed the crude, dirty side ofthe tourist mecca and Scorsese is at home among the small-time hustlers, thewhores and narcotic addicts. After a decade of absence from the New Yorkscene in his films, Scorsese returned in 1999 with his latest movie,Bringing Out the Dead.
    The film shows us two days and three nights in the life of ambulance driverFrank Pierce, played by Nicholas Cage. Frank resuscitates drug abusers,fights to save the lives of two-bit criminals that have been shot anddelivers twins.
    In the middle of the madness, Frank is plagued by a lack of feeling. Deathhaunts Frank and he wants out, but his understaffed boss won’t let himleave.
    Scorsese is free to throw in plenty of his trademarks: driving rock music,obsessive characters, and an eerie fading from reality into delirium. It ishis finest film in a long time.

Bringing Out the Dead opens in Finland on February 25th.

by Pamela Kaskinen