Hollywood comes to Finland
Chronicle by Eveliina Haataja.
In the beginning of February Hollywood landed to Oulu. Mr. Mario Van Peebles, a Hollywood based actor-director-producer-screenwriter, stopped by to give a speech about the American Cinema today. Van Peebles’ visit was a part of the national tour organized by the US Embassy to Finland and National audiovisual archive. Here are some highlights from Van Peebles’ two day trip to Oulu.
From Hawaii to Finland
The first day of the trip was more fun than work. Van Peebles had just finished the shooting an episode of the mega-hit series Lost in Hawaii so the trip from the sunny island could not have been longer to the icy Gulf of Bothnia. Althoug the change might have been big Van Peebles seemed to enjoy every minute of the snowmobile trip to campfire, organized by Juha Säkkinen from JPS Production.
The evening continued with a dinner. The ordering of the food in grill restaurant was a bit difficult since Van Peebles had just turn in to vegetarian diet, as a part of his personal journey towards a greener world.
“Mario´s Green House” tells about the expanding of the Van Peebles family house in a green way and on the way the greener lifestyle has effected him in more comprehensive way. Anyway the food was “the best vegetarian food” he had eaten so everyone was happy.
After the dinner, Film Arc companies joined the group to have a cocktail with Mr. Van Peebles. Anne told about the Film Arc project and showed him the trailer of the Finnish hit-documentary “Freetime Machos”. The evening continued with some dancing in a local nightclub crowded with students in overalls. The Finnish students can be recognized on base of the color of the overall, e.g. media students in Oulu have purple overalls. To Van Peebles this was something so exiting and he took lots of pictures of it to be presented for folks back home.
Movies with a bigger meaning
On the second day of the visit was the time for the waited speech in Oulu University of Applied Sciences. Van Peebles was so exited about that previous night that he wanted to give the speech in a purple overall. About 80 people, students and professionals, had come to hear about the American Cinema. The speech offered so much more than just a description of Hollywood today. Van Peebles told about the impact that president Obama has had in life of the Americans in general. He told that people have had new kind of hope and enthusiasm and they demand more of the media also. The trend is, like we have already seen, that “middleclass” movies are decreasing and more variety is seen on the movie market. Big blockbusters are even bigger than before (e.g. Avatar) but also small independent movies have reached more audiences. These movies often bring forth environmental, political and social issues in a new way. Van Peebles listed some of these “to be seen” –movies.
Mario´s picks (links to Youtube-trailer):
- Food Inc
- Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land
- The Corporation
- Jesus Camp
African American Cinema
Van Peebles also told about his father Melvin Van Peebles who is famous for being the man who started a new era of African American focused films. He´s most known work is Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971). He not only directed, scripted, and edited the film, but wrote the score and directed the marketing campaign. The film in the end grossed $10 million and convinced Hollywood that African Americans are to be taken seriously not only as an audience but also as movie makers. Mario Van Peebles made in 2004 film BAADASSSSS! which tells the story behind the making of Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.