FINNISH FILM DIRECTOR VIVI FRIEDMAN DIES AT 44

Vivi Friedman

Now cracks a noble heart.
Good night, sweet princess.
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
(Hamlet, V.ii.359-360)

It is with deep regret and profound sadness that we inform you of the passing of Vivi Friedman yesterday, January 2nd, 2012, after a long battle with cancer.

Our condolences to Vivi’s partner Steven and relatives. Ha-Makom yenahem etkhem be-tokh avelei Ẓiyyon vi-Yrushalayim.

Here is a story we ran just a few months ago on the premiere of Vivi’s first feature film in the United States:

REPORTER: TOMI HINKKANEN – WEST HOLLYWOOD
PREMIERE PHOTOGRAPHS BY JONNY KAHLEYN/TOMI HINKKANEN

Finnish Vivi Friedman’s first feature film ‘The Family Tree’ premiered on the big screen last weekend in Los Angeles and New York. The film boasts a star-studded cast: Dermot Mulroney, Hope Davis, Chy McBride, Selma Blair, Jane Seymour, and others. Vivi Friedman is not yet a household name, but she is well-known in the advertising world. The 43-year-old director has had a long career in TV commercials. She has directed spots for both Finnish and international companies and is represented by an agency in Germany. In America, ad agencies don’t seem to bother much with subterfuge while European TV commercials often tell a clever little story with a twist (revealing the advertised product or service at the end). Vivi became known for these kinds of story-driven commercials. Vivi Friedman came to the United States 20 years ago. She studied at Rochester University in New York and at UCLA in Los Angeles. However, she admits that school was not really something for her and that she got most of her training in the field. In Hollywood, Vivi familiarized herself with the production process of American movie-making by taking on production assistant jobs here and there. Then she made a short film called ‘Certainly Not a Fairytale’.

Vivi Friedman directs Dermot Mulroney and Hope Davis

“My agent sent copies of the my film to various producers and agencies, and one of the recipients was screenwriter Mark Lisson’s manager who was looking for a director for Mark’s script. I then met with Mark and we got along great. That’s how it all started,” Vivi recalls. Along with the writer, Allan Jones produced. Alan didn’t divulge the exact budget amount, but said it cost less than five million dollars to make. The Ohio-based movie was actually filmed in Los Angeles in 2008. The tight budget allowed for only 25 days of shooting.

‘The Family Tree’ is a dark comedy about a family in crisis. The parents are on the brink of a divorce, the teenage son is mixed up with a fundamentalist church and its gun-worshipping pastor, and the daughter struggles with her sexuality. The Burnetts get a second chance when the mother (played by Hope Davis) loses her memory due to a head concussion and starts believing that everything is fine with the family. This reboot starts the chaotic sorting out of the whole family mess.

Vivi Friedman at the LA premiere of 'The Family Tree'

Before the cameras were able to start rolling, Vivi had to ‘sell’ her film to some top Hollywood names. With the help of a good casting director, she succeeded in attracting a stellar cast to her first directorial effort. The first one hired was Dermot Mulroney for the role of Jack Burnett, the husband and father of the family. Mulroney is perhaps best remembered from Julia Roberts’ 1997 film ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding.’

“Dermot has a dry sense of humor. He is fantastic as an actor. He totally put his heart and soul in a role that required him to be less than his usual handsome leading man,” Vivi describes. Dermot is reunited with his ‘About Schmidt’ costar Hope Davis who plays the mother and his wife Bunnie.

“Hope is aware of her talents and she has an enormous scale as an actor. She took the young actors under her wing. She says that once you have made a movie together, you are like family members with them for the rest of your life.”

Dermot Mulroney and Hope Davis in 'The Family Tree'

Brittany Robertson, Max Thieriot and Jane Seymor complete the Burnett family as the teenage daughter, son, and grandmother.

“Jane is fantastic. She appears at the end of the film in a scene that requires her to cry. When we were discussing that, Jane asked, if I wanted her to cry from the left eye, from the right eye or from both eyes.”

Chy McBride plays Bunnie’s neighbor and lover. He agreed to show an intimate body shot for the film.

“Chy said that he would rather not appear naked. I said that I just want to show your ass. He replies, oh that? Go ahead, it’s in good shape!”

The featured cast is also full of familiar names. Keith Carradine is the gum-chewing, gun-toting priest. Christina Hendricks of the TV series Mad Men is cast in a similar office manager’s role. Selma Blair portrays a lesbian teacher.

“Selma is just as wild in real life as in her roles. She is an incredibly wonderful person. She questions everything but agrees to everything as well.”

The premiere night at the Laemmle 5 Theater in West Hollywood attracted a great audience who applauded enthusiastically at the end.

Vivi Friedman

VIVI FRIEDMAN

Family background: Vivi was born in Helsinki in 1967. She spent her childhood years in Nummela, Southern Finland. Her brother Sami works for the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE).

Education: University of Rochester, NY, UCLA, CA. Career: Started making TV commercials in 1989. Has made spots for Aktia Bank, Asuntopörssi (a real-estate company), Lumene (cosmetics) and Valio (dairy products). Directed a short subject ‘Certainly Not a Fairytale’ in 2003.

Vivi Friedman

Personal life: Vivi is in a relationship with Steven Kaminsky, a post-production supervisor.

‘The Family Tree’ movie trailer:

Links:

http://www.thefamilytreemovie.com/ (Official website)

http://www.vivifriedman.com/

 

PÄIVI AND SANTERI – MODERN DAY FINNISH NOMADS

PÄIVI AND SANTERI: MODERN DAY NOMADS
REPORTER:  TOMI HINKKANEN
PICTURES PROVIDED BY PÄIVI AND SANTERI

Päivi and Santeri Kannisto were a well-to-do Finnish couple with all the trappings of a successful life – both well educated with a nice house and great careers. But seven years ago they got tired of the rat race, sold all their worldly possessions and set out to tour the world – permanently.

Q. Talk about your life in Finland when you were still ”normal”,
working career people?

Santeri had an open source software house for some 12 years and Päivi
worked as a Management Consultant.

 

Q. It seems that both of you had found your vocation. You had an
interesting careers that no doubt paid quite well. What are the
reasons why you grew tired of that kind of a standard western life?

Those careers were what others expected us to do, not what we wanted
from our lives. Päivi wanted to travel and Santeri wanted to devote
his life for love and get rid of possessions.

 

Q. You allowed three months to prepare for your new nomadic life
style. Lift that curtain a little – what did you do with taxation,
property and how much savings did you take with you?

We finance our travelling by writing books. Our income is modest but
we consume very little nowadays. Our average total monthly spending
varies between US 400-700$. The taxation keeps on taxing no matter if
they have the right to do it any longer or not. Our income is too low
for any country to tax and most of it consists of tax free grants.

Päivi sold her property and Santeri walked out of his life leaving
everything behind. Santeri’s possessions ended up mostly to the
pockets of lawyers fighting for what was left.

Q. The United States and Finland are both expensive countries – every
time you leave your house, you spend money on gas, food, shopping,
etc. What kind of a daily budget do you normally have – how much is
spent of food, lodging, transportation, etc. and do you select the
countries you go to based on the costs?

We buy fruits and vegetables (we are vegans) and cook ourselves. We
walk distances under 10 miles and use the cheapest public
transportation available for longer distances, and use Couch Surfing.
If we stay around in a place for a bit longer, we rent a small
room/apartment and often help the landlord to decrease the rent by
doing renovation work, installing electricity, fixing things,
painting, etc.

Our living costs have varied very little between countries and
continents. We don’t buy stuff except the bare minimum such as clothes
and shoes, and laptops for writing. There is enough pollution in the
world without us increasing it by consuming products and services.

Working in the traditional sense of the word and possessing cars and
real estate are the most expensive things in life. We don’t do any of
them. We have no need to show off with possessions.

Q. What kind of cultural differences and barriers have you run into?

In Finland people take shoes off when they enter someone’s house. We
do that, too. Sometimes it has been hard to convince people from other
cultures to do the same when they come to our place.

Q. You have said that some countries have been pleasant and some less
pleasant surprises – tell us a little of both – which countries have
you liked, which not and why?

We like countries that allow free debate and do not condemn
differences in opinion. We avoid countries that believe they can make
peace by killing people or countries that support or participate in
such activities. For us, there is no acceptable excuse in taking any
life, human or animal. We are all one. If you hurt others, you end up
hurting yourself.

Q. I bet you have run into some characters on your travels – tell us
about some of the most memorable people you have met?

Meeting Professor Erik Cohen was definitely such an occasion. We have
been doing research on lifestyle travellers and he is also interested
in the subject. We went to see him and ended up sharing a wonderful
night together cooking and talking philosophy. He is almost 80 and
beat us in speed walking.

Q. Right now you are in China. What part of the country are you at and
what is life like there?

We are right now in Guangzhou in the province of Canton in Southern
China. We are staying this week with our American friend from Iowa
whom we met four years ago when we were touring China for the first
time. The country itself is not very tempting because of visas and
pollution, but we came here to meet our friends.

The environment is pretty much spoiled thanks to all products made for
the Western countries. In bigger cities you can’t see the blue sky,
it’s just grey and hazy all year around. Western companies come to
China where it is cheaper to make products. The reason why it is so
much cheaper is because they don’t have to care about labour or
environment. Unfortunately the pollution does not respect the borders
and will eventually spread everywhere just like Fukushima radiation.
It’s pretty short-sighted.

Q. You mention the internet censorship in China – talk about that and
have you witnessed other kind of human rights abuse there?

Four years ago it was possible to find open proxies and web services
allowing access to censored web services. None of them work any more.
The only viable option is to buy a vpn service which is both costly
and technically challenging, because vpn documentation and client
downloads have been blocked, too.

Human rights are rhetoric everywhere in the world, not just in China.
For example freedom of movement has been limited with all kinds of
artificial restrictions and payments. Think about having to obtain a
permit to practise a religion and then pay a fee every 5 years to have
your freedom of religion.

Perhaps the situation is a bit better now, because Google is no more
working in China revealing the emails of dissidents to the government
for persecution.

Q. You are currently doing a study of the nomadic lifestyle and you
have interviewed other people who share this lifestyle with you – give
us a little peak into what you have found out?

We interviewed 30 contemporary nomads (9 Americans) from 17 countries,
who have been travelling the world continuously over 4 years without
permanent residence or work. Many of the travellers wanted to get rid
of the Rat Race and enjoy adventures, idleness, and masterless life.
They are not owned by countries or corporations. They are
professionals of travelling for whom the mobile lifestyle has solved
some of the biggest mysteries in life. The book will be published next
year.

Q. You are both now about 40 years old. After six years on the road,
how long do you think you can keep on traveling and will there come a
point when one simply gets too old to do that – in other words, have
you talked about eventually settling down, and if so, where?

We are both 41 and have been 7 years on the road. This is now our 8th
year. For us, the future does not exist. We are living in this very
moment with only one plan: no plans. Earlier we had the idea of
finding a perfect place and settling down, but then we discovered
there are are too many of them and so many places still to see, so we
kept going.

Q. In the United States the Occupy movement has spread into every
major city. The Occupy people demonstrate against corporate and
capitalistic greed. Do you feel affinity with the Occupy movement?

We have no sympathy for corporate and capitalist greed, nor for police
states that some of the Western countries represent. In that sense, we
feel affinity and might well stop by to spend a few days in such a
camp.

Q. How often do you visit your family and friends in Finland?

Last time we visited Finland in 2006. Some of our family members and
friends have come to visit us abroad which has worked better for us.
People tend to have more time for us when they are on holiday.

Q. What do you think is the best country in the world?

There are so many of them. Some countries we like a lot include
Brazil, France, and the city of Hong Kong.

Q. And the worst?

In general all countries. It is an absurd idea to divide the small
earth into even smaller pieces of land (countries) that quarrel with
each other and try to build barriers between people instead of uniting
them.

We tend to avoid countries that charge for visas or entry permits
complicating border crossings. Visas are the best way to unwelcome
travellers.

Q. What is the most valuable thing you have learned from your travels?

Less is more. Travels have taught us that we don’t need much, and the
less we have, the happier we are. When we possess something, that
thing starts to possess us and as a consequence, we loose our freedom.

Q. What is your typical day like – I mean, what do you do and how
much is spent on working?

It depends if we are Couch Surfing or renting a room. With other
people we usually follow their rhytm and habits. When we are alone, we
usually wake up before sunrise, have a morning walk or go jogging,
then write a bit, prepare lunch, go shopping groceries, sometimes
watch a film or play computer games, and go to bed soon after sunset.

Q. What happens if either one of you gets sick?

Santeri does not believe in medicine and if Päivi gets seriously sick,
we travel to a third world country such as Thailand that offers
affordable, high-quality medical services.

Q. Have you been in danger?

We visited Indonesia 2 weeks after the Bali bombings. The island was
empty of tourists and local businessmen were desperate. One evening we
we went to a hotel and agreed the price. In the morning, the business
owner wanted to double the price. We declined his offer and then he
started taking our photos with his camera phone and sending them to
his friends saying that they would come and beat us. Then he showed
his backyard and told that the previous tourists who refused to pay,
had been killed there. We sat down with him smiling and repeated that
we are happy to pay him the agreed sum. After 3 hours, he gave up and
accepted the agreed payment.


Visit Päivi & Santeri’s fascinating website for more information, pictures and videos: 

http://paivisanteri.blogspot.com 

 Published works by Päivi & Santeri

Tietoverkkotrilleri Takaportin kansikuva Tietoverkkotrilleri Takaportti (Backdoor, IT thriller, fiction)
Kustannus HD, 2009.
Asiakaspalvelu book cover Asiakaspalvelu. Tiedettä, taikuutta vai talonpoikaisjärkeä? (Customer Service—Science, Magic or Common Sense?, a studybook)
Amk-Kustannus, 2008
Kirjan Kullattu kakkalapio cover Kullattu kakkalapio (Gilded Pooper Scooper, satirical short stories, fiction)
Siniplaneetta, 2007Also available as audio book (mp3) and e-book (pdf)
Kirjan Platinainen pilvenreuna kansikuva Platinainen pilvenreuna
Santeri Kanniston erokirja tietoyhteiskunnasta, yrittäjyydestä ja GNU/Linuxista.
(Platinum Extreme, Santeri Kannisto’s autobiography)
Amk-Kustannus, 2007
Kirjan Johtamisen pakolliset kuviot cover Johtamisen pakolliset kuviot (Compalsory Figures of Business Management, a guidebook)
Talentum, 2005
Kirjan Suolatut säkeet kansi Suolatut säkeet (Vitriolic Verses, Doctoral Ph.D. Dissertation)
SKS, 1997

Free e-books, click to download (pdf)

Book cover Parisuhdekirja Onnelliset yhdessä (Happy Together, a book on couple relationships)
Päivi & Santeri, 2009.
La Habanera cover La Habanera
The Escape From The Rat Race

Also available in Finnish and Hebrew.
Päivi & Santeri, 2005
Tourism Guide For Brazilians Tourism Guide For Brazilians
Finnish translation Turistiopas brasilialaisille was published in Gilded Pooper Scooper
Also available in Spanish.
Päivi & Santeri, 2005
Suolatut säkeet cover Suolatut säkeet (Vitriolic Verses, Doctoral Ph.D. Dissertation)
The discursive formation undergone by Finland and the Finns from the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth century.
Päivi Kannisto, 2008

THE PIA PAKARINEN PHENOMENON

STORY: PIA PAKARINEN
REPORTER: TOMI HINKKANEN – LOS ANGELES
PHOTOS: JONNY KAHLEYN
MAKE-UP AND HAIR: KRISTINA DUFF

Pia Pakarinen by Jonny Kahleyn (copyrighted)

Pia Pakarinen by Jonny Kahleyn  ©

The Finnish beauty queen was crowned Miss Finland in March, 2011, and by September she had abdicated her crown amidst terrible press. “What happened?” we asked Pia as she arrived in America for the very first time.

A year ago nobody knew anything about Pia Pakarinen, a 21-year-old country girl from Juuka, Northern Karelia. Then, last spring, she won the Miss Finland beauty pageant and became an overnight sensation. The beautiful and well-spoken blond bombshell seemed to be everywhere. With great triumph, the Nordic maiden was sent to the Miss Universe contest in São Paulo, Brazil. That’s when things started to go haywire. Reports began appearing in the media that Pia insisted that her entourage be brought along and that she demanded money for interviews. She returned from Brazil empty-handed and was said to be canceling and/or missing gigs that she had previously agreed to do. She then dramatically gives up her Miss Finland title in a live TV-broadcast and denounces the organization behind it. Pia Pakarinen was a persona non grata in Finland. There was only one thing to do: Go Hollywood!

Enter Maria and Paul Kizirian, a couple who work at the Network modeling agency in Los Angeles. The Finnish-born Maria happened to know Wille Wilenius, a friend of Pia’s.

Pia Pakarinen by Jonny Kahleyn (copyrighted)

Pia Pakarinen by Jonny Kahleyn  ©

(more…)

FINNISH-BORN VIVI FRIEDMAN’S DEBUT FEATURE FILM ‘THE FAMILY TREE’

Vivi Friedman by Jonny Kahleyn

Vivi Friedman at the LA premiere of 'The Family Tree'

REPORTER: TOMI HINKKANEN – WEST HOLLYWOOD
PREMIERE PHOTOGRAPHS BY JONNY KAHLEYN/TOMI HINKKANEN

Finnish Vivi Friedman’s first feature film ‘The Family Tree’ premiered on the big screen last weekend in Los Angeles and New York. The film boasts a star-studded cast: Dermot Mulroney, Hope Davis, Chy McBride, Selma Blair, Jane Seymour, and others. Vivi Friedman is not yet a household name, but she is well-known in the advertising world. The 43-year-old director has had a long career in TV commercials. She has directed spots for both Finnish and international companies and is represented by an agency in Germany. In America, ad agencies don’t seem to bother much with subterfuge while European TV commercials often tell a clever little story with a twist (revealing the advertised product or service at the end). Vivi became known for these kinds of story-driven commercials. Vivi Friedman came to the United States 20 years ago. She studied at Rochester University in New York and at UCLA in Los Angeles. However, she admits that school was not really something for her and that she got most of her training in the field. In Hollywood, Vivi familiarized herself with the production process of American movie-making by taking on production assistant jobs here and there. Then she made a short film called ‘Certainly Not a Fairytale’.

Vivi Friedman directs Dermot Mulroney and Hope Davis

“My agent sent copies of the my film to various producers and agencies, and one of the recipients was screenwriter Mark Lisson’s manager who was looking for a director for Mark’s script. I then met with Mark and we got along great. That’s how it all started,” Vivi recalls. Along with the writer, Allan Jones produced. Alan didn’t divulge the exact budget amount, but said it cost less than five million dollars to make. The Ohio-based movie was actually filmed in Los Angeles in 2008. The tight budget allowed for only 25 days of shooting.

‘The Family Tree’ is a dark comedy about a family in crisis. The parents are on the brink of a divorce, the teenage son is mixed up with a fundamentalist church and its gun-worshipping pastor, and the daughter struggles with her sexuality. The Burnetts get a second chance when the mother (played by Hope Davis) loses her memory due to a head concussion and starts believing that everything is fine with the family. This reboot starts the chaotic sorting out of the whole family mess.

Vivi Friedman at the LA premiere of 'The Family Tree'

Before the cameras were able to start rolling, Vivi had to ‘sell’ her film to some top Hollywood names. With the help of a good casting director, she succeeded in attracting a stellar cast to her first directorial effort. The first one hired was Dermot Mulroney for the role of Jack Burnett, the husband and father of the family. Mulroney is perhaps best remembered from Julia Roberts’ 1997 film ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding.’

“Dermot has a dry sense of humor. He is fantastic as an actor. He totally put his heart and soul in a role that required him to be less than his usual handsome leading man,” Vivi describes. Dermot is reunited with his ‘About Schmidt’ costar Hope Davis who plays the mother and his wife Bunnie.

“Hope is aware of her talents and she has an enormous scale as an actor. She took the young actors under her wing. She says that once you have made a movie together, you are like family members with them for the rest of your life.”

Dermot Mulroney and Hope Davis in 'The Family Tree'

Brittany Robertson, Max Thieriot and Jane Seymor complete the Burnett family as the teenage daughter, son, and grandmother.

“Jane is fantastic. She appears at the end of the film in a scene that requires her to cry. When we were discussing that, Jane asked, if I wanted her to cry from the left eye, from the right eye or from both eyes.”

Chy McBride plays Bunnie’s neighbor and lover. He agreed to show an intimate body shot for the film.

“Chy said that he would rather not appear naked. I said that I just want to show your ass. He replies, oh that? Go ahead, it’s in good shape!”

Vivi Friedman at the LA premiere of 'The Family Tree' by Jonny Kahleyn

Vivi Friedman at the LA premiere of 'The Family Tree'

The featured cast is also full of familiar names. Keith Carradine is the gum-chewing, gun-toting priest. Christina Hendricks of the TV series Mad Men is cast in a similar office manager’s role. Selma Blair portrays a lesbian teacher.

“Selma is just as wild in real life as in her roles. She is an incredibly wonderful person. She questions everything but agrees to everything as well.”

The premiere night at the Laemmle 5 Theater in West Hollywood attracted a great audience who applauded enthusiastically at the end.

Vivi Friedman at the LA premiere of "The Family Tree'

VIVI FRIEDMAN

Family background: Vivi was born in Helsinki in 1967. She spent her childhood years in Nummela, Southern Finland. Her brother Sami works for the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE).

Education: University of Rochester, NY, UCLA, CA. Career: Started making TV commercials in 1989. Has made spots for Aktia Bank, Asuntopörssi (a real-estate company), Lumene (cosmetics) and Valio (dairy products). Directed a short subject ‘Certainly Not a Fairytale’ in 2003.

Personal life: Vivi is in a relationship with Steven Kaminsky, a post-production supervisor.

‘The Family Tree’ movie trailer:

Links:

http://www.thefamilytreemovie.com/ (Official website)

http://www.vivifriedman.com/