Sunday, January 17, 2016

Suomi uudelleen

When I returned to Canada in 2014, I was half-convinced I would never see Fennoscandia again, or at least not for a long, long time, because it was simply too wonderful to be able to do more than once. This was a straight-up love affair, people. I missed the Nordics so much it hurt. I had vague dreams of returning, but no idea when or how I could put them into place. Then, just as I was settling into graduate school in Toronto last fall, this opportunity came along - and there's a bit of a story behind it.

When I started my program, I was pretty quickly known as the person who loved Sweden, and the person who had lived in Russia. It was my thing, so to speak, like the woman who was fond of feminist film or the guy who adored all things Japan. I somehow managed to fit Sweden or Russia (and on a bizarre turn, Harry Potter) into pretty much every assignment of the semester. With a final paper coming up in Film Historiography, I needed to choose an underwritten cinematic topic. Both Sweden and Russia possessed legendary national cinemas. Still, I wanted to work them in somehow. But what kind of topic could possibly do that?

And then it came to me - the Sami.

The Indigenous people of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia's Kola Peninsula turned out to have a dynamic emerging cinema, which had recently been featured at ImagineNative, the Indigenous film festival here in Toronto. I contacted ImagineNative, they contacted Finland, and all of a sudden I found myself booking tickets to Skabmagovat, the Sami film festival that attracts Indigenous filmmakers from all over the world.

It's exhilarating and frightening all at once. My travel skills are a bit rusty. I've never been to the Arctic, let alone 300 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle on the other side of the world. And as usual, my fears and anxieties are competing with my dreams to rule me. But I'm going. A long trip by plane and bus via Amsterdam and Helsinki to Inari, Finland, home to an enormous Sami cultural centre, and a weekend of films I will never see anywhere else. And of course, a stop in Stockholm on the way back. There's no way I can come this far and NOT visit my other home, and perhaps my hope for future adventures. I'm skipping two weeks of class, sinking a ton of money into this, and that paper? It was handed in six weeks ago. Going now, perhaps, is a little bit odd.

But I'm going back to the Nordics, and I'm doing that in a way I never imagined.
You guys -

I'm going HOME!!!!

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