I have had the pleasure of talking to a documentary film director, journalist and woman of many talents, Monika Lipanovich. We decided to grab a coffee in the still-summery atmosphere of Stockholm and talk about her up-and-coming Dating project.
So, Monika, tell me what is your film about, dating as a topic can be very versatile.
Dating is an incredibly captivating topic in general, don’t you think? Each person is unique, with a distinct story. And based on individual experiences, the term itself elicits different reactions – from thrill and excitement to “gosh, I hate it!” Also, dating norms differ across countries. My participants reside in Stockholm, but they are not all from Sweden. My research is all about digging into the cultural differences when it comes to love, or, to put it more precisely, the quest for love.
So Stockholm is just part of your journey? Or is there something really special about the dating scene here?
Stockholm is home now, so it makes sense to focus my research here. Also, did you know that Stockholm has the highest percentage of single households in Europe? I stumbled upon an article about it and I thought, there must be a story behind it. You know, being a journalist, I couldn’t help but get curious. I just wanted to investigate if the headlines are telling us the truth because I also know that there are a lot of single people living in London. But in London for instance, it’s more common for people to share a living space. Even if they’re not together, they’re just flatmates. Another factor you have to think of, is how affordable the apartments are in Stockholm compared to London. So you have to analyse different aspects, before you just come to a conclusion, because numbers can be very tricky after all.
Besides the statistics, how would you describe the dating scene in Sweden based on your research?
Well, according to Tinder, Scandinavia holds the record of active accounts. But here’s the kicker: does that mean there’s an abundance of singles, or is the app just crazy popular? Or maybe it only tells us something about people’s preferences on how to meet others. As you know, Stockholm is not the most socially open place. Swiping right might be easier than striking up a conversation at the bar. It’s like technology slowly is taking over face-to-face interactions. I’ve got to admit, I find it pretty darn fascinating. Not taking sides here–it’s not about good or bad, just a whole lot of intrigue. Also, the amount of attractive people would make you think that finding a partner is easy, but research shows that too many choices only make things more difficult.
Do you think that diversity helps to date or it would be better to be more uniform as a society?
I think diversity definitely makes the dating scene more interesting. But people should be on the same page if we talk about for instance paying the bill on the first date, to avoid disappointment. As much as physical differences may look appealing, things like cultural differences, family values, work ethics, equality and gender roles etc… may cause a lot of conflicts.
According to your research, dating is some sort of a chess game where you need a good strategy to play it, right?
Most people I interviewed told me that they hate games. What people declare to value the most nowadays is vulnerability, honesty and respect. But at the same time, they want to feel butterflies in their stomachs. We currently live in a time where physical appearance plays a significant role, not just in the dating scene. We can be shallow, often making decisions based on looks or social status. How much effort do we truly put into getting to know someone? Does chemistry really mean true connection? What are the red flags, and why do we tend to overlook them and sabotage our own happiness? These are some of the questions that will be explored in the documentary.
Are you planning to research and create a documentary just in Sweden?
The working title is Swedish Match for a reason, but during the development, I started thinking of making a series. Dating is a topic that generates a lot of interest, so I am planning to expand it to other countries as well: London and southern Europe would be interesting to contrast. Also, Poland where I am already in talks with a production company. Who knows how it is going to develop, but I am open to continuing the project.
Does the intimacy sell well then?
I think that it is in our human nature to compare ourselves to others and even though you are in a relationship, you want to be aware of how it looks on the other side of the fence. This is why reality shows are so popular: in many of them, there is nothing going on, people are just locked in a certain space for us to simply watch them come up with crazy ideas out of boredom. But please don’t get me wrong, the documentary has nothing in common with reality shows! It’s just an example to illustrate our primal need to watch other people.
Politically correct answer.
I just love unfiltered, real human stories. To provide my audience with something they can cry and laugh about, and learn.
Thank you for your time, Monika! I am looking forward to watching your film or series and will be following your progress on your IG page.
Check out the latest teaser of Swedish Match!