Airplane and Cow





Ladyfest Tallinn 2012 film prize.


Once upon a time, a cow went to the airport. There stood an airplane, looking snooty. „Hello, cow!“ said an airplane. „Hello-hello!“ said a cow, but who are you?“ „I am an airplane, answered an airplane. „I fly faster, higher and further than anybody else.“. „But I give milk,“ said a cow.
Vassili Livanov „Silly Cow“ 1987.

This video is about two persons who are happily married but doesn’t fulfil society’s expectations upon typical family. In Estonia people have quite strict and conservative view on gender roles in marriage: husband should earn money and wife should also earn money plus take care of home and children. Having kids is the 1st priority of marriage and there is official state politics supporting this idea. It is because Estonia is very small nation and if people stop having kids or have less than three kids, it simply vanishes.

Me and my husband Sven have lived together for 14 years and have been married for 8 years. We are not a normal couple in the eyes of society:

  1. Either of us changed surname when married. Usually in Estonia wife and kids get husband’s surname, though other ways are also allowed.
  2. We don’t want kids
  3. Sven hates cars. I have got drivers’ licence and I often drive a car.
  4. My activities take place outside from home, while Sven makes chores at home.
  5. I enjoy making huge plans, Sven likes working on the details
  6. Sven is often taken as a woman because of his appearance.


People often criticize our marriage, find it peculiar and have expectations:

  1. If Fideelia didn’t take Sven’s surname, she doesn’t love him.
  2. Only wife and husband, who have kids can be called family. You are not family!
  3. Can Sven drive me home?
  4. Look, girls are kissing! (while we are kissing in the town).
  5. You will drift apart because of different education level!


I illustrate my different family with the help of children’s book “Silly Cow” by Russian author V. Livanov. There the cow meets an airplane. In the video my role is to be airplane and Sven’s role is a cow. Livanov describes an airplane as someone, who is very proud of its achievements and cow as plain creature who repeats the same all the time (“we gave milk”). At the end the cow turns out to be very a important figure. If astronauts wouldn’t drink milk, they couldn’t have strength to fly to the space.

Airplane: in olden times we airplanes were totally different. We were made of wood and dragged on the special floow up on the air. We fell down quickly. But what did you cows do at that time?
Cow: we gave milk.

Vassili Livanov „Silly Cow“ 1987.

The video is built up like dialogue between cow and airplane. I start telling about my achievements since the time we moved together and finish in present day. I make myself very important. Sven’s speech remains the same whatever I say. Old original video and photo footage is used for illustrating the story. At the end of the video I show small notes. When I go far away from home, I leave a note for him. All of these are original notes. It symbolizes our sense of being family and togetherness. I know Sven always will be home waiting, and Sven knows I always come back home where ever I go. Society’s opinion never matters.


Gender studies