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PRODUCTION France / Finland

Ailo's Journey puts the spotlight on Lapland

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- Guillaume Maidatchevsky’s French-Finnish co-production will follow a new-born reindeer trying to find its way through the arctic wilderness

Ailo's Journey puts the spotlight on Lapland
The crew of Ailo’s Journey, during the shooting of the film (© Marko Junttila / Matila Röhr Productions)

Bolstered by a 25% cash rebate from the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, Guillaume Maidatchevsky’s new movie, shot in Lapland over little more than a year, will follow a new-born reindeer trying to find its way through the arctic wilderness.

“In terms of the backstory, there’s just one free-roaming reindeer herd left in the world, and when one of the mothers gives birth prematurely, the baby is left behind by the rest of the herd. So, we get to see the whole of Ailo’s story, who’s as cute as Bambi, cuter even”, explains producer Marko Röhr, on the phone from Lapland, rather fittingly, where his next film, Tale of a Sleeping Giant, will also be shot - the final part of the trilogy which includes Tale of a Forest and Tale of a Lake [+see also:
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“It’s a real prototype of sorts: a fiction tale shot under documentary conditions”, adds Laurent Baudens, also a producer on the film. “Guillaume had wanted to go down that route for a long time, and we gave him total freedom to do so. We also managed to convince huge partners such as Gaumont and Ascott Elite to join us, because they understood we were trying to make something completely new.” And under rather challenging conditions to boot. “We’re one of the few companies constantly working in the Arctic, so we were able to choose places that we already knew”, explains Röhr. “We had a brilliant team and a director who worked so hard, I felt sorry for him at times. But ultimately, nature decides.” 

As proven by recent box-office takings, there’s certainly an audience for this kind of film in Finland. But with Ailo’s Journey, the team are hoping for a particular kind of box-office success. “Before we made Tale of a Forest, everyone kept saying: ‘Nobody will go to see it’. We’d been filming for four years before the first financial backers finally came on board. But in the wider world, this genre was already popular, especially in France. Just look at about Jean-Jacques Annaud’s The Bear or Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou’s Microcosmos.” And what was the reason for their success? Their ability to attract an entire family. “There aren’t too many films that we can genuinely speak of as ‘family movies’. For the most part, it’s not the entire family that goes along to the cinema, it’s mothers and children. But nature-oriented films can attract fathers as well. That’s what happened with my previous films, and it made all the difference. When I asked Guillaume who he was making the film for, he replied: ‘For my two sons’. ‘Great’, I said, ‘now we’re talking’.”

Ailo’s Journey was produced by Laurent Baudens and Laurent Flahault for Borsalino Productions, and Marko Röhr for Matila Röhr Productions, while being co-produced by Gaumont. It has already been pre-sold to continental Europe, China and Japan by Gaumont International, and has received support from the Finnish Film Foundation, YLE, Visit Finland, the Finnish Lapland Film Commission and the House of Lapland. The film will premiere in Finland in December 2018, with the French premiere scheduled for the following February.

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