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Making The Film

Finnish American Lives

Film by Michael Loukinen
Produced by Juanita Anderson, Deborah Dickson, Anne Belle
Cinematographer: Kathleen Laughlin, Tom Davenport, Miroslav Janek
Sound: Will Peecher, Roger Schmitz, Harve Nye.
Editing: Deborah Dickson, Miroslav Janek, Anne Belle
Copyright: 1982, Northern Michigan University
45 minutes, Color
Original format: Film: 16mm, 1982
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Streaming only. For other permissions apply to Michael Loukinen or to the distributor, Northern Michigan University, Up North Films.


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A portrait of traditional Finnish American culture in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, highlighting the fragile community of memory connecting one with parents and grandparents. A 92-year-old grandfather asked his son and Finnish immigrant daughter-in-law to live on the farm and care for him. The barn will fall any day; the grandchildren are growing restless. This three-generation farm family works, celebrates, reflects and grieves together. FINNISH AMERICAN LIVES explores the meaning of family, ethnic history, aging, and intergenerational bonds. Contrasts between the immigrant elder, his American-born son, and the partially assimilated grandchildren illustrate continuity and change in the "sanua belt" of the Lake Superior Region. The film was completed in 1982.

Loukinen demonstrates and extraordinary ability to enter into the emotional core of a culture on its own terms.
--- Visual Sociology Review,1983


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