Liisa Penttilä • Edith Film
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
03/05/2012 - “I was always an addicted reader, and this passion became very useful when producing films – a good story turns into images already when you go through the script,” says Finnish producer Liisa Penttilä, head of Helsinki’s Edith Film.
Originally heading towards law studies, Penttilä was offered a job in a film production company, and decided to stay in the business. Since 1995 she worked as a production manager and line producer, until she set up her company with Denmark’s Zentropa Entertainments in 2001.
Recent feature productions include Finnish director Saara Saarela’s Twisted Roots [trailer] (2009) and Finnish director Aku Louhimies’ Naked Harbour, released domestically on February 3 to become both critical acclaim and commercial success.
Cineuropa: How did you join the Zentropa family?
I met with Peter Aalbæk Jensen in Halifax in 1999, and right on the spot we decided to collaborate, and set up a Zentropa company in Finland. I started my own family at the same time, and Edith Film productions were rolling a couple of years later. Zentropa is an inspiring example of how national and international partners and talent can work successfully together. Danish director Lars von Trier’s Dogville [trailer] (2003) was my first co-production experience, and it was certainly very instructive. Since then I have co-produced with Zentropa international companies, most recently on German director Hendrik Handloegten’s Summer Window [trailer] (2011), with Zentropa International Berlin’s producer Maria Köpf.
What do you like about producing, and which films do you prefer to deal with?
To be a producer and managing director of a production company is a challenging combination of art and business, and it requires a long-term strategy and good partnerships to succeed. The films I am making should have a strong perception of the world and its people, and create an emotional experience to international audiences.
Our latest release, Naked Harbour, is a great example of a quality art-house film that has found its audiences, now exceeding 95,000 admissions domestically. It will be launched theatrically in Russia in July, and in Estonia in October, later in Germany and Lithuania. We made Naked Harbour with Pauli Pentti from First Floor Productions, and we are already talking about new, interesting projects.
Finnish audiences are returning to local films. What has happened?
The repertoire of Finnish films in the theatres has been more versatile than ever, from high quality family films to successful crime series and strong genre films. People not just watching Finnish films, but also discussing them, such as Iron Sky [trailer, film focus]’s national and international breakthrough. There have been close to 30 national premieres annually in last couple of years, which has diversified the supply, but also challenged both marketing and screen capacity.”
What’s on now – and what’s next on your agenda?
We just finished shooting Finnish director Simo Halinen’s new feature, Pizza Desperata, a love story starring Leea Klemola and Peter Franzén, which will be domestically released on November 2, and we are about to close financing for Finnish director Juha Lehtola’s Boy Upside Down, a family film about an 11-year-old boy whose parents die in a car accident, but who refuses to mourn. Louhimies’ action drama Ultimate Fight, with Antti Luusuaniemi and Asli Bayram, is in development, and we expect to start the production early 2013.
Producers on the move is an initiative of the EUROPEAN FILM PROMOTION