On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the Global Film Series hosted a screening of the Finnish documentary “Entrepreneur” in Witherspoon Student Center Campus Cinema, sponsored by NC State Entrepreneurship.
The screening was followed by an interactive Q&A with Jennifer Capps, the director of student learning and faculty development within the entrepreneurship program.
“This could be the exact same story that you see in France, in the United States, Argentina, in Nigeria,” Capps said while introducing the film to the audience. “You could see the same story over and over again...the themes are going to be consistent.”
The film starts out with a scene of a man speaking into a microphone in a small room, apparently reciting his vows for a wedding. From there, the story of this man and his family unfolds. Along with his wife and kids, he owns and runs a meat truck in Finland, trying to make ends meet while obstacles of circumstance test their commitment and abilities.
The film also follows another story of two Finnish women trying to launch a food company that aims to replace real meat with far less environmentally destructive plant-based alternatives. The narrative that is crafted following these two journeys creates a beautiful contrast between the high-growth and capital-intensive world of scalable manufacturing and the world of a small family business in a rural area.
The cinematography immediately stood out as being very different stylistically compared to most U.S.-made documentaries. The shots were often static, wide open and relied on long takes. This technique helped create a slightly ethereal feeling throughout most of the film.
The pacing was slow and contemplative, and the narrative that is weaved throughout the film asks the viewer to connect various dots on their own, but never to the point of confusion. It was a refreshing sight to see a documentary that tells a real-life story while also striving for some level of artistic complexity.
“Entrepreneur” was an insightful window into the ups and downs that inevitably are experienced when starting a business venture. The mixture of professional and personal moments within both of the stories on-screen make for an emotionally engaging and at times educational experience.
After the film’s end, Capps invited the audience members to participate in an interactive activity where they gave their thoughts on the similarities and differences between the two entrepreneurial journeys shown. Many people mentioned sacrifice and the difficult struggle of work-life balance as a consistent theme throughout the film.
Capps spoke about some of the challenges captured in the film that are common in starting businesses.
“It really is a career that in so many ways lets you have personal choice and personal control, but in exchange for that, in so many other ways you give up so much personal choice and so much personal control,” Capps said. “It’s give and take.”
When asked about the process of selecting “Entrepreneur” as the final screening of the fall semester, David Hawley with the Office of Global Engagement explained that it was originally born out of collaboration between the Global Film Series and the entrepreneurship program specifically for Global Entrepreneurship Week.
“They had heard about the Global Film Series and were very interested in it since it could hopefully attract a new audience that hadn’t heard about entrepreneurship on campus,” Hawley said. “It started with ‘let’s partner on showing a movie’, and then it proceeded to finding an international film that focuses on entrepreneurs.”
Marian Fragola of the NC State University Libraries, who manages the Global Film Series with Hawley, gave insight into why “Entrepreneur” became the selection for the screening.
“I found this film, and I liked it because it had a female director, and it was Finnish, and we’ve never shown a Finnish film...and I liked the fact that it’s global not just in the fact that it’s from Finland,” Fragola said. “But also it incorporates that big trip to China, and they’re expanding internationally, and then you have the hyper-local perspective with this family literally going around the countryside of Finland.”
The Global Film Series has now announced its upcoming slate of screenings for the spring Semester, which includes the Palme d’Or winning Japanese film “Shoplifters”. More details can be found online.