July 24 – 28, 2024

Jim Williams, Sr., an elder of the Lac Vieux Desert Ojibwe band in Watersmeet, Michigan, heard elders sing at feasts, pow wows and ceremonies while growing up. He went on to start a traditional drum group called the Lac Vieux Desert Singers who are featured in this film along with the Four Thunders drum, a group that also includes the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and Sault Ste. Marie bands, and singers from Marquette.

Performance at the Edmund Fitzerald Hall Stage.

Kisarit Finnish-American Folk Dancers were organized in 1972 to preserve and present Finnish folk music and dance. Based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, the volunteer members of the group practice weekly with choreographed dances and traditional folk dances from all parts of Finland. Past members of the group have trained and studied with well-known Finnish and Scandinavian folk dance instructors, enabling Kisarit to teach folk dances from every region of Finland as well as other Scandinavian countries. The Kisarit dancers have delighted audiences throughout the United States, Canada and Finland with their performances. In 2022, the Kisarit Finnish-American FolkDancers celebrated 50 years of continuing to bring Finnish dance performances, music and culture for others to enjoy and experience

Documentary about pensioner’s entrancing journey towards finding a connection with the Eurasian lynx hiding in the forests.

The film weaves a compelling narrative that captivates the world of Finnish oddity at Aalto University and beyond, where tradition meets rebellion.

The Happiest Country in the World examines several aspects of Finnish life to see why Finland has been at the top of the UN’s World Happiness Report for years 6 in a row. Documentary host, Nina Trasoff, explores their schools, government, prisons, nature, saunas, and culture to see how we might bring a little bit of Finnish happiness into our own lives.

William Durbin will share a series of archival slides that will help participants visualize the historical settings of his novels. In addition to conventional academic research, Durbin was privileged to interview dozens of people, who have provided him with invaluable first-person accounts of Finnish culture and history. He has not only spoken with numerous Finnish homesteaders and iron miners, but he has also had the rare opportunity to visit at length with several Winter War veterans (the youngest was 85 years old), and Karelian immigrants, who in the 1930s were fortunate to escape from Russia and return to America. Primary among the Karelian survivors was Mayme Sevander, a woman who helped Durbin see Karelia through her eyes.

Presenter Bio:
A two-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award, William Durbin has written fourteen historical novels, including four books that focus on Finnish-American culture and history: SONG OF SAMPO LAKE, a homestead story which is set in Northeastern Minnesota; THE JOURNAL OF OTTO PELTONEN, which explores underground iron mining on the Mesabi Range and the first strike against U.S. Steel, THE DARKEST EVENING, which focuses on the Finns who immigrated to Karelia, Russia during the 1930s; and THE WINTER WAR. Durbin’s latest novel, THE HIDDEN ROOM, is set in Ukraine during the final year of WWI, and it draws many parallels between Stalin’s invasion of Finland in 1939 and Putin’s current, unprovoked attack on Ukraine.