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Yoopera! Suzanne Jurva & Erin Smith

Lecturer of the Year 2014

Since 2006 the Finlandia Foundation National (FFN) has hosted a Lecturer of the Year program to encourage sharing of aspects of Finnish and Finnish-American history, culture and life.

The Lecturer of the Year for 2014 was the filmmaking team of Suzanne Jurva and Erin Smith, who produced the documentary Yoopera! The film tells the story of the collaboration of Finnish and American talent in the making of an opera about a labor strike in 1906 in Rockland, a mining town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.). Rockland: The Opera premiered in Nivala, Finland and Houghton, Michigan in 2011. The documentary film’s title Yoopera! combines the word for U.P. residents, “Yoopers,” and the Finnish word for the musical genre, ooppera.

Yoopera! weaves in the companion Story Line project that encouraged hundreds of area residents to tell their family stories on cloth banners. Jurva, an award-winning filmmaker who is originally from Michigan and graduated from Michigan Tech University in Houghton, but now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, directed and produced the documentary. Smith, who teaches digital media and film at Michigan Tech, is the film’s editor.

Read the Program

Time and again, the exchanges gave audience members a chance to engage in the program and revealed many heartwarming memories and experiences for all present.

Click on the image below to download a PDF of the Lecturer of the Year brochure.