Open the paper today in Finland and, as in much of Europe, the likelihood is you’ll find a story about immigration. One underlining theme, which seems to be hammered home with disturbing regularity, is the idea that us immigrants are a burden upon society. This is despite the huge amounts of evidence to the contrary. In fact, and I’m living proof, research shows immigrants are net financial contributors to the countries in which they live. But immigrants enrich societies in many other ways, too.
Take talented filmmaker Leandro Righini, a South African immigrant, who has made Finland his home for the last ten years. A Creative Director at Make Films he’s spent the last decade making beautiful short movies for countless companies. Now, he’s crafted a wistfully beautiful video about summer cottage life that might just be the most Finnish video ever. If you don’t believe us, take a look for yourself. But first let’s hear more from the man himself, about his inspiration and his love for super Suomi.
So, Leandro, what inspired you to make this marvellous short movie?
Well, I’ve been going to the summer cottage for years and have felt that it’s such a uniquely Nordic experience that I really wanted to try share the feeling and atmosphere that you get at the cottage. It’s literally non-stop action. You’re either cooking, raking, fixing, swimming, chopping, paddling, reading or basking in absolute stillness. I don’t quite know how to describe it…that’s why I made a video. I also feel that the summer cottage reveals a lot about the spirit of Finland. I think that in many ways summer cottages give you a beautiful and rare glimpse of Finland’s soul.
What do you like best about Finnish summer?
The explosion of energy. It’s light and warm, people smile more easily, the whole country comes alive. I also love paddling and being in the outdoors. Paddling is especially beautiful here. I find the water so incredibly still that you get lost in the reflections of the sky. It’s a cool place to be. I also love the absolute focus on being with your family, being right on the lake and being able to paddle daily and inventiveness and creativity that you get when you have so much space to play. You can build stuff and be expansive. It’s not something that you can do that easily in the city.
What are the best things has Finland given to you?
I’ve been living here for ten years or so already and it has been an amazing journey. At first I found myself a little isolated and I found the Finns difficult to relate to, but over the years I have developed an incredible love and respect for Finland, Finns and the way that things are dealt with here. I love the peace, the feeling that you can have trust in the society in general and the sense of equality. I grew up in South Africa so for me these are important. I have the privilege of bringing my children up in a society which respects women and where I know that they can aspire to be anything they want to be. I have also learned to love snow, and have had some pretty amazing adventures.
And what have you given to Finland?
As an immigrant, I expected myself from the beginning to have something different or meaningful to add to the country. I was a little disappointed in the beginning to find that I didn’t but over time I have begun to see the value of having a different background and worldview coupled with a deep understanding of the country. I think that as I integrate deeper and deeper into Finnish society it’s exciting to see that my differences become strengths and that the people seem to value this. I think the secret is that you have to be really patient.
We think this gives a stunningly beautiful insight into the joys summer cottage life, and might just be the most Finnish video we’ve ever seen. But what about you? Let us know in the comments below.