Like many of us, Petri Luukainen had too much stuff. But unlike many of us, he decided to put everything he owned into storage for a year.
In doing so, he embarked on an exciting ‘human experiment’ which he chose to film. The end result is My Stuff, Finnish docudrama based on the bizarre personal experiences of the director himself, Petri Luukainen.
After a difficult break-up with his long-term girlfriend, Petri descends into quarter life existential crisis mode. He realises his possessions have come to define his very existence and failed to bring him any real happiness, and he finally reaches breaking point.
To solve the problem, he decides to put all his possessions into storage. He is left alone, naked and possessionless in his empty apartment in Helsinki.
Petri sets aside a year in which he can retrieve one item from storage per day. He also forbids himself from buying anything new during these 365 days. Day one sees him running through the snow butt-naked to retrieve his long coat – luckily this doubles up as a standby blanket for the night.
Cutting through his clutter, Petri reappraises his life via his belongings. Each day, he struggles over what is more necessary – a toothbrush, a sock or a sofa.
On the second day of the experiment, he collects his shoes, on the third his blanket and on the fourth his jeans. As the days progress, Petri discovers he can get by with one hundred things, this includes a laptop, debit card, diary and swimming trunks.
In the attempt to discover what he needs to live a wholesome but comfortable life, Petri learns a lot over the course of the year. In turn, this 29-year old recognises the difference between possessions which he needs and those which he simply wants.
After the screening at a Q&A session, the filmmaker confirmed it was an experiment that took a lot of courage. “I was forced to take control of my life, challenge my needs and actually be honest with myself,” he said.
The film apparently came about by accident: “One day I looked around at all the useless shit in my crowded apartment which I’d bought to fulfil some spots in my soul and I thought ‘what would happen if I transported all this stuff someplace else?’. I needed a fresh start. My friends jokingly suggested I film it so we did.”
As Petri is slowly freed from the burden of his possessions, he falls in love with a new girlfriend half way through the year.
What is more, after his grandmother falls ill, she wisely points out that: “Life does not consist of things and things are just props,” summing up the fundamental message of the film.
Through his own personal journey, Petri’s subtle yet bold documentary manages to shed light on the materialistic nature of consumer society.