When I arrived in Finland 12 years ago, I only knew three persons besides my brother and relatives in this country. Back then, enthusiastic about my hopes and dreams of a new life, I didn’t realize the importance of maintaining the connections with my culture.
Then, through my cousin I met Laura Gazzotti, who introduced me to a warm and happy gang getting together at the iconic Corona bar and Andorra in October.
From the beginning, I was very warmly received as a volunteer in Cinemaissí. Now, it is ten years since that first encounter in the Corona bar and I am the President of Cinemaissí association. I still don’t fully understand what is it that makes me want to come back and be part of the festival year after year. Cinemaissi is a very important part of my life, for many reasons.
Some people find that through sports, or work, or hobbies in general. For me, that was volunteering in anything I found interesting or meaningful.
From the outside, Cinemaissí may look like “just another festival”. But Cinemaissi is more than a film festival – it is an association of friends that got together to see and promote films that are not main stream or in the TV. In Cinemaissí, we are like a family that comes together to organize a big party – but also sometimes disagrees, argues and has different ways to communicate. Even though it is a small festival happening once a year, there is a huge work behind it, and a very strong team that basically works as volunteers for the whole year.
At the festival, we don’t only bring our sunny and warm spring spirits from the South to the North, but we also meet old and new friends, learn from each others’ countries and perspectives, discuss some of the latest facts, news, and stories that are being showed on the screen.
What we see in the films does not always represent the best part of our culture – but there are issues that need to be addressed to bring awareness about situations. Sometimes we are not aware of many of the challenges our people face in Latin America and we believe it is our responsibility to bring those to the discussion.
Films are an especially powerful way to express and to connect with our culture, to give a message for the society on another side of the world. We are proud to represent our culture in all the aspects trough art to share with you a variety of voices.
We are all excited when the Cinemaissí week is here and will be happy to see you all around! This festival is for you all to feel welcome!