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“We have found a good balance to our laid-back yet professional setting”

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Sara Norberg • Executive director, Helsinki International Film Festival

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- We spoke to Sara Norberg about the fifth edition of the Finnish Film Affair, which will showcase films for buyers, festivals and the press

Sara Norberg  • Executive director, Helsinki International Film Festival
(© Birgit Heidsiek)

At the Finnish Film Affair (FFA) in Helsinki, which kicks off today, almost 80 international industry guests, such as buyers and festival programmers, will meet and mingle with members of the local industry, who will present their films at different stages of development and production. Sara Norberg, executive director of the 29th Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy, talks to us about the fifth Finnish Film Affair, as well as the approach and development of this international networking event. 

(The article continues below - Commercial information)Cine Iberoamericano Int

Cineuropa: How has the Finnish Film Affair developed after four years? What is new?
Sara Norberg: The Finnish Film Affair event has grown and developed strongly since its first edition. Both the number of projects and the number of buyer guests have grown, and the event attracts more and more decision makers from all over the world. The biggest change over these years has been how much more visibility Finnish films get internationally. This year, we have changed all our venues and will also be able to offer new Helsinki experiences to our regular guests. There are no big changes in the programme, as we have found a good balance to our laid-back yet professional setting.

Is there more interest in a showcase for Finnish films after the international success of The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Juho Kuosmanen
film profile
]
?
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki already received a lot of interest at the FFA Work in Progress last September, but winning the Un Certain Regard Prize is of course boosting the international appeal of Finnish films. Another success story from last year’s line-up was The Fencer [+see also:
trailer
interview: Ivo Felt
film profile
]
, which was later nominated for the Golden Globes.

At times like these, when it is often expensive for distributors to compete for finished films, is there a growing demand for Works in Progress?
At least for events like the Finnish Film Affair, where the main focus is to showcase films for buyers, festivals and the press, a Works in Progress section is a must.

How many of the projects that were pitched at the Finnish Film Affair last year found international partners or distribution?
Last year, a record number of projects and films found sales agents at the FFA. At least six titles reported making deals, which is more than ever before.

The Finnish Film Affair is an important networking event for the industry. What kind of support is offered to the filmmakers taking part?
We bring almost 80 international industry guests (most of them buyers and programmers) to meet the local industry, and provide coaching and pitching opportunities for films at different stages of development and production. We have two B2B online film libraries, multiple networking events and the major international trade press reporting from the event. We also provide matchmaking services for all participants.

What are the main topics that will be discussed this year?
The focus of this year's industry panel will be on stories and concepts that sell. The panel will be moderated by industry veteran Adam Leipzig, and the panellists include Mike Goodridge, CEO of Protagonist Pictures; Mike Runagall, managing director of Altitude Film Sales; and Claudia Lewis, former president of production at Fox Searchlight. The Finnish representative on the panel is talent agent Laura Munsterhjelm.

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